Cloth Mesh v.1.0.Java

I recently tried recreating my cloth mesh using Java and its 3D capabilities in Processing, and it made a pretty interesting little cloth that actually moves in 3D with a camera that pans around it.

Controls:
: push the cloth in.
: pull the cloth out.
: extreme

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pushing/pulling when clicking.

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Cellife

This was a pretty dramatic change I made to the original Conway’s Game of Life program, by making the cells interact in very different ways. They each make changes depending up on the eight surrounding

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cells, as before, but they decide how they interact in ways separate from simply on and off; they change their brightness, speed at which they darken and lighten, and several other properties while they make different effects across the screen. These are two settings that I found most enjoyable when playing with the program.

Controls:
: Spawn green/red life, respectively.

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King.com and the Candy Saga

King.com has been making its way through the news lately over their trademark rampage wherein they’ve bullied smaller developers off of titling their games with common words like “candy” and “saga.” Frankly, I’m completely disgusted at the news, and I went to their Contact Us page and sent them the below message:

However easy it was to twist a broken system into allowing you to take hold of common words like “candy” and “saga” as trademarks, it’s incredibly disappointing to see successful developers like yourselves attack other studios over words for which you–law or no law–simply don’t have any claim of ownership. It’s unethical and immoral, and I’ll be using whatever small power I have to convince people that you and your products are not worth the time or money to support.

I don’t think this will have an impact in any way, but I needed a way to let some of my frustration loose. Especially considering recent experiences of my

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own with unjust trademark bullying.

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I Hate to Burst Your Bubble…

I’m a bit flabbergasted by the “indie clique” commentary that’s been floating around the twittersphere today. Not being a successful/rich/famous developer, it would seem that I should be on the outside looking in on this “clique,” but it hasn’t felt that way in my experiences meeting these developers. I went to GDC this last March (my first and only event meeting game developers on a large scale, even after years of working on games on my own), and I could see how people got this perception. There are definitely groups of successful developers who meet and talk at these events together; and rightfully so. They know each other, have had similar experiences to one another, and go to these events often primarily to talk to these friends.

The surprising fact is that lesser-known developers (who don’t know these successful developers in any way other than their work) have an expectation that the developer should talk to them as they would anyone else. This expectation is unfair. These developers aren’t intentionally being “cliquey,” just the way that you’re not being “cliquey” when you go to a bar to sit and talk with your friends. The main difference is that you don’t have random people who also came to the bar staring at your group of friends and jealously wishing they could be a part of

your conversation and group.

I went to a panel a little over a year ago that included an EA lead designer, and I asked what he thought about indies. He said he doesn’t like talking about “indies” because he thinks it’s used to identify indie elitists and not the independent gaming sphere in general. This was my first, real introduction to this idea, and I’m still surprised that I first heard it out of the mouth of a AAA game designer. This, to me, says that this idea seems to be farther reaching than I’d thought… And I’m afraid that it’ll continue to be something that people quietly and unfairly hate about successful indies.

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Making Heroine

Characters in all my released games.

One fact about my games that has never been pointed out to me by a fan or peer is that my games don’t have female characters in them. That image above is all of the characters in my completed
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games. Over the 11 finished games I’ve made, there is not a single female character. I’ve thought about the reasons for this, and I’ve come to a few conclusions as to why this seems to be the case:

1. I’m male. This is probably the biggest reason–I’m a male who knows what it’s like to be a male, and I tend to like playing as a male in the games I play; hence, I make characters in my game male. This mostly explains why my protagonist characters are male, but it doesn’t do a good job explaining why all other characters in my games can’t be female.

2. I’m scared to draw women. This is because people are very sensitive to how female characters are portrayed–however, this isn’t the case with male characters. I can essentially draw whatever I like for a male character (huge upper-body? Check. Big muscles? Check. One eye? Sounds good! Wings? Might as well), and there isn’t a second thought as to whether it is a “fair” portrayal of a male. Because I don’t draw humans, it’s difficult for me to give a “womanly” feel to a character in any way other than to make their hair longer, add breasts, or simply refer to a character who looks genderless as a female. As a result, it has simply always been the case that a male/genderless character will be easier for me to make.

3. Most of my characters don’t have explicit genders. Enemies and other NPCs aren’t referred to by “he” or “she” in-game, and I don’t tend to make human characters that would be easy to identify by sex. However, I can say that I’ve always considered the characters in my game not to be female, and this is mostly for reason four, below.

4. Making women characters is too frequently seen as a statement. This, I believe, is because most characters in games tend to be male–thus, making a character female means there must be a reason why they’re female. Frequently, the “statement” is seen as a misogynistic one. For example, I remember hearing that Spelunky, when it was released for Xbox 360, had a few articles claiming that its use of the “Damsel in Distress” trope (portrayed as a blonde woman in a red dress) was misogynistic due to the fact she could be thrown around and killed like other objects the player can pick up. In reality, I see where they’re getting that reasoning, but there wouldn’t have been an uproar if Derek had just decided to make the character male. This is a big reason why I don’t make my characters female: it opens the door to a conversation about sexism in my game that I never intended to start.

That last conclusion, I believe, is the sneakiest, most damaging reason why I don’t put women in my games (and why I think others might not as well). Most of the time, making a character female is optional. Because of the negative attention that your game can draw as a result of unintentionally portraying a female character inappropriately, it’s often worth it to just make all your characters male or genderless–I know that I want people to talk about the gameplay, narrative, and other parts of my game and not about whether the portrayals of women are appropriate or not. This fear on the part of game developers, I think, is keeping games from moving forward in terms of their portrayals of women because it is frequently not the case that developers can casually make characters female without making sure to determine if all of the actions done in relation to the character are not sexist.

Note: this all applies to race as well as gender.

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Depressed Alien: Stats

I was asked for some statistics on the Depressed Alien site, so I figured I’d just make a blog post (since, c’mon, who doesn’t like some fun website stats?)

NOTE: all information is from July 5, 2013 – August 7, 2013

Most unique visitors in a day: 3,195 (today, so still rising)
Total pageviews: 172,044
Total unique visitors: 8,585
Average pages/visit: 14.98
Average visit duration: 4:14
Average unique visitors per update: 590
Average unique visitors per update (over the last 10 days): 1,769

32% of people visit 1 page
25% of people visit 20+ pages

Most visited comic: #63
Least visited comic: #23

BrowserLocation
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OSSources
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Depressed Alien

I’ve

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been working on a webcomic called Depressed Alien for almost three months now, updating every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (made a ton of lower-quality ones at the start before I settled into that schedule–thus there being 64 comics, at the time of writing). I’ve been enjoying making them quite a bit, and I’m planning on continuing it for a while.

So far there has been a certain measure of success online, especially with reddit. Comic #63 reached #1 overall on reddit a couple days ago, which was very uplifting. Also, comics #48, #52, #55, and #60 have all reached the front page of the r/funny subreddit, which has been encouraging as well. It’s meant a lot to have the internet’s support in making this comic, and I hope to keep it as funny as I can in the future!

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Oblitus – TIGSource Devlog Post

I posted a new topic about Oblitus to the TIGSource forums, where I’ll also be updating how the game is coming along. You can check it out here!

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Here’s one of the new pictures that I included in the TIGS post:

Oblitus
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Obsolescence

I released a new game just recently called “Obsolescence” that is sponsored by Newgrounds and can be played here. It’s a (hopefully) unique twist on the bullet-hell genre in which you move radially

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around the center, which is a huge boss made of a lot of moving, mechanical, shooty parts. Below are a few pictures of the game:

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Oblitus: The Start

Noel Berry and I started a new game called “Oblitus” (Latin for “forgotten”) about two weeks ago, and it’s been a blast to develop. We’re doing something completely different than in the past, as this game is a fantasy-based action RPG with high-resolution graphics. I tend to (always) develop with pixel art, but we’re putting our tablets to use and seeing if we can make a fun, good-looking game without pixelling. We’ve come pretty far in these last two weeks, and we’ll be updating a tumblr with our progress as we go.

We’re using the newly kickstarted and released application “Spine” to do our animation, and so far it’s a blast. I’ve enjoyed making many complex animations for our characters (so far, the current candidate for the player is sitting at 15 animations), and they’re looking great. I had to write my own JSON importer to take in the animations from the files exported by Spine but, in doing so, I’ve become very familiar with the program and making animations smoothly transition from one to another in it (as well as do more complex actions, like stab at the mouse instead of simply following the animation’s normal path).

Noel has been hard at work making a map editor for the game. It’s very cool so far, exporting and importing xml files for levels, and it’s already useful for prototyping levels. The game will open-world, and our plan for the editor is to make the whole map in it and divide the map up into rooms using rectangles. We’re hoping it will be very useful in allowing us to make the game feel inter-connected and open.

We’re hoping to make Oblitus a strategy-based combat game, where the player is going to do a lot more dodging and blocking than they are attacking. It’s going to be hard, but it’s also going to draw you in with its interesting environments and hands-off approach to storytelling. We hope you’ll enjoy it when you get a chance to play, and we hope you stay updated on our website, oblit.us, and tumblr.

Thanks,
Connor

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Seedling: A Post-Mortem

Okay, so I really should have posted this some time ago, but here is a post-mortem for Seedling that I wrote last August for a magazine that did not get released. It features my at-the-time view of the game and its reception, as well as lots of pictures!

Seedling, in essence grew out of a few relatively unrelated factors. I’d just started college and made some new friends, so I wanted to show them that when I said I “made flash games” that it didn’t mean “I make small, simple games.” I wanted to show that I could make a big game, and one series that several of them seemed to like was the Legend of Zelda. I’d hardly ever played any LoZ games (only a Link to the Past, for which I have some intense nostalgia because a childhood friend had it and I didn’t—my view of the quality of the game was bloated by my jealousy and, ever since, I’ve always had a soft spot for the game), but I had it on my game-development bucket list to put an epic adventure game together. Thus was born my largest project: it would be a large adventure game, it would take me about 4-6 months to work on, and it would be inspired by the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

The original character sprite.

The final character sprite.

From here, I immediately began work on the game. I knew it would be tile-based, and I started on a character design that remained, generally, unchanged. The original character had a two-pixel black slit for its one eye, while the final version now has a blue stripe between its two eyes. The name for the game at this time was “Shrum,” which is still my name for the character, and is just a little adaptation of “mushroom.” My favorite part about developing this game was the amazing amount of interest I had for it. Throughout the entirety of development, I never once became truly bored of the project—even designing all 116 areas wasn’t a grating experience, as it usually is for me. I think this is due mostly to the fact that it was a real world-building experience. I could just throw out ideas and almost all of them would stick; I have only one enemy animation that didn’t make it into the final game, and I’d actually programmed most of him, but I just forgot about him. The development process was very painless and organic in this way. Also, the theming of the

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dungeons (lava, ice/water, forest) gave me a lot of room to play with tilesets and color, which also contributed to the world-building part of the development process. This let Seedling be a very fun creative outlet, and I was able to push out content at a pretty rapid pace.

An unused enemy.

One of my favorite parts of the game is actually the level where there is a transition from the forested area into the cold north. The blizzard picks up as you move to the top of the area, and the colors become less and less colorful; this effect really made me feel like the world was multi-faceted, as if it was really a place with different regions governed by different peoples and monsters. For me, this part really contributes to the “fullness” of the world, and I love that.

The icy north!

One part of the game that I am almost embarassed by is the lack of real attention I put into the lore. Not to disillusion anyone who finds it interesting, but I really didn’t put much thought into it. The Creatures of the Relic are all named by the first (maybe second) name that came to mind, and even the title “Creatures of the Relic” is completely arbitrary: I have no idea what “relic” I’m talking about either. Sardol, who is mentioned in the statue plaque, by the man standing next to the statue, and by Sardol himself (who you can talk to via an easter egg) was a very late add-on, but some people have gone so far as to think that the Oracle, who is also randomly named, might be Sardol in disguise—this, to me, is why I love what little structure there is in the storyline. People are able to ask their own questions, like “what is the relic?” and “who is that tooth-shaped guy who is all over the place?” I often don’t have an answer for them, but I don’t NEED to have one, and that is really a cool thing. They can have that wonder and excitement about the Creatures, and they can think about Sardol and his effect on the storyline, but I don’t have to put it all there for them. In that sense, the game is different for each player as they play, and I don’t feel bad one bit for not handing them my interpretation.

The Watcher has been called “the tooth guy” numerous times in comments.

I think it might surprise some people to find that most of the art for the game is as it was when I first put it in. I didn’t go back to edit much of anything in a significant way, aside from the main character sprite, after putting it in initially. For this reason, in-development screenshots of the game are almost identical to the current game. Pictures of the fourth dungeon, where I’m less than halfway into making the game, are almost indistinguishable from the current screenshots in every way except for a removal of black borders in favor of dark-but-slightly-colored borders in most of the art. Here are provided a few shots from when I was 3 months (halfway) into development, and you can probably see what I mean.

One of the funniest and most random additions to the game is the character “Adnan.” He is featured in the corner of the area you teleport to after defeating the Lights. He faces a wall, and when you talk to him, he yells that he is the “DESTROYER OF WORLDS.” I’ve seen videos online where people give pretty hilarious responses to him, and one person even went so far as to say that he is the most interesting character in the game. The origin, in fact, is a friend of mine from college, whose name is Adnan, first saw the game and immediately responded with “put me in it!” In about five minutes, I drew him up (he’s indian, thus the darker skin on the character) and put him into that room with that same text, as a joke. I intended to swap him out for something more meaningful, but I thought it was funny to leave him, and so he has remained!

“I AM ADNAN, DESTROYER OF WORLDS.”

Once I was nearing the end of development, I sought out a musician. I was referred by a mutual online friend to Roger Hicks, who is known for projects like Celestial Mechanica and rComplex, and he agreed to take on the project. He did an amazing job, putting together 22 minutes of music with 15 tracks, and fitting it all into about 5.5mb. He also helped me with a lot of the end-game design because he’s a big fan of these kinds of games—he had a big influence, and I’m really hoping we’ll continue with more projects together.

The character sprite for Roger in-game.

Roger finished the music for Seedling and, from there, it was ready for sponsorship. This was a pretty nerve-wracking prospect for me, as I have done several sponsorships, but not at this scale, and I needed some money to let me quit my new McDonald’s and pizza delivery jobs. College is expensive, and this was going to be important for next year.

Luckily, the end of development happened to coincide with Tom Fulp’s discovery of one of my other games, Hollow, on Newgrounds. He liked it a lot and featured it on the front page for a while. This came as a total shock to me—I didn’t know why it was featured, as it had been on the site lying in obscurity for several months by this point. It wasn’t until Tom emailed me saying that he’d put Hollow up there that I knew why. The second part of his email was even more exciting, however, as he said that he saw my blog post about “Shrum” and that he was interested in seeing demos and possibly sponsoring the game.

As it turned out, we ended up going with Newgrounds for the final sponsorship, and I earned enough money from the deal to quit my jobs. Ever since, Seedling has had a pretty fine reception, including very nice review on websites like IndieGames.com; Rock, Paper, Shotgun; DIYGamer; JayIsGames; and IndieGameMagazine. Seedling is still featured on Newgrounds and was featured on Kongregate just a few hours ago (at the time of writing), as well as receiving the weekly prize for second-highest rating. It was also on the ArmorGames front page for a time, where it has done pretty well.

The beginnings to Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s article on Seedling.

Aside from these positives of its reception, the negative responses to Seedling have been very frustrating. I have received many an email, private message, bug report, and hateful comment about the plethora of bugs and areas in the game where you can get stuck. This has been a dominating force on the ratings of the game, I imagine, as many players give very bad ratings when they get stuck. The issue for me, however, is that it is frankly at the fault of the player—most of the “bugs” and “broken areas” of the game are actually just fine, but they couldn’t figure out the puzzle. For me, this has been disheartening, as it seems it is my fault for releasing for flash. The short attention span of the platform’s players, as well as the free-to-play aspect of it really open the gates for comments that condemn the game’s structure based often on the fact that players just aren’t willing to dedicate the time to really work through the game; they didn’t pay for it, so they don’t have the investment to work at it.

You’re not stuck… You just aren’t much of an adventurer.

Even so, Seedling has been an incredible experience for me, and I’m hoping to make another game soon of this scale for Steam in the future. I won’t swear off a Seedling 2, but I may just take a break from adventure games for a while!

Since I wrote this, Seedling has done even more for me–it led to over a million plays across some of the largest flash portals in the land, a segment on the Philip DeFranco show, an interview with Kotaku, and a subsequent meeting with a member of the Adult Swim Games team. This all snow-balled into my next project with Noel Berry, Prism Panic, which we did for Adult Swim. Seedling has a place close to my heart, as I feel very proud of what it is and how I managed to make exactly the game I wanted to make. Now, onto the next one!

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A Message to “Idea Guys”

The value of an idea pales in comparison to the massive amount of work it takes to realize it.
-Evan Dahm, artist

I felt that this was a particularly insightful quote that can be used to inform many people looking to help on independent video games. Oftentimes, people new to game development approach with the attitude that they will provide a great idea for a game, and then others will

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work out the implementation–these posts, often put on fora where this “idea guy” can reach programmers, artists, composers, etc. tend to get largely ignored or downright stomped on by more experienced members. This seems to mystify these new people who are likely wondering, “Why doesn’t anyone want to work with me on my idea?”

What they don’t understand is that the idea, while important, is generally not the most valuable part of a project. Execution is usually the determining factor in a game’s success, and while a game’s innovative qualities are very important and are utilized as the “draw” to that particular game in its genre, any member on a small indie team can contribute to it; thus, it isn’t a specialized skill set for which you need another team member. In larger companies, the “idea guys” are designers and that is their sole purpose but, for small teams, it simply isn’t feasible to have someone only coming up with ideas. In order to make you a valuable asset to a team, that creative capacity has to be coupled with a second, more directly-specialized skill like programming, art, or music composition.

In short, acquire a skill that will let you contribute more solid work to the group, and offer that ability alongside your idea to get a bit more positive attention!

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Game Design, by Academia

One of the most frustrating problems that I’ve faced this new year at the University of Michigan has been a new class centered around game development. I joined this class hoping to be able to flex my muscles a bit with my previous experience in taking a video

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game idea from start to finish, and I didn’t feel guilty about taking a class I should already have a knack for, as this particular game-development section is part of a course that is required for graduation–A win-win, as the class should hopefully be pretty simple to complete, while at the same time I’ll get a few new ideas about game design under my belt in an academic (rather than article-based) setting.

 

However, the class so far has been a near-disaster. After switching late into the class (I didn’t know it existed until the term had started), I wasn’t allowed to make up any work, and the lectures so far as I’ve seen are centered around very poor ideas on game design and development. My opinions are certainly skewed due to the fact that I’m independent and plan to stay that way, but many of the ideas they’ve brought up are certainly applicable to the industry at large and, I believe, definitely worth avoiding in nearly all cases.

 

One development “tip” that was given to us was that we should always try to start making a game by writing the user documentation. As it was told to us in lecture, this is a critical part of game development, and the user documentation is a valued resource to players. This is certainly universally considered an out-of-touch point–as a gamer and developer, I’ve never written nor read user documentation (such as a game manual) without it being a frustrating and annoying experience. Sometimes this is necessary for a game, and I’m sure players have opened up the game manual that comes with most physical discs at some point; however, the only reason that the player had to open up that manual is because the game’s design failed them. Games are an interactive experience; teaching the player how to interact is a critical part of that, and as games are a form of entertainment, that teaching must also be presented in an entertaining way. User documentation is not entertaining. This is.

 

Another development “tip” given to us was on what our main menus should contain. The lecturer quickly came up with a set of nine items that are necessary for most games, including the title, start, help, customizations, quit, instructions, highscores, etc. He recommended five buttons for the main menu itself, along with submenus as necessary to cover all of these aspects. This idea is almost offensive to me, as I can’t say I’m completely alone when I say that I hate menus. They clutter the screen, they are often hard to navigate, and they pull the player out of the experience. They’re a necessary piece of management in a lot of games, and they have their place, but I feel that it is very important that menu usage is minimized as much as it possibly can. To say that your main menu needs five buttons to be adequate is not just absurd: it’s also lazy. Making your main screen clear and easy to use is something that isn’t easy to do and will require effort, but it’s important. My latest release, Quietus II, has a very simple main screen; your only choice is to press <enter> to continue. Controls are briefly listed on the next page after the intro (not my proudest setup for displaying controls, but at least it’s readily available and easy to see), and you can play. The player can literally press <enter> three times in a row to continue the next level from their last save, and my main menu only has one button. Praepoch is similar–the player presses any button at the main screen, and the game starts. It’s not confusing, and controls are taught in-game. I think that this is design that should be perpetuated. Few people are going to tell you your menu is awesome but, like a field-goal kicker, your only job is to not disappoint.

 

The last game design opinion dished out in lecture was the first one I heard, and it was the most aggravating. The lecturer (this time different from the above two) told us about how the designer’s portrayal of a game’s storyline is pivotal. The designer must outline how the player plays the game in a puppeteer-like fashion. The designer knows best how to unveil the storyline in a game and provide the best experience for all players. The lecturer went on to say that he’s heard of players who play games like World of Warcraft and Diablo III talking about how they crafted their own experience via PvP and exploration, but that he thinks that that approach in design is invalid, and the storylined approach is the superior method for taking a player through a game. This comment left me aghast, as it really seemed as if he was looking at games like they are books–books are restricted to linear storylines and carefully-crafted plots, which are awesome and can also make for good games, but they don’t utilize games’ most important ally: it’s interactivity. Linear storylines crafted by designers don’t let you interact with the storyline. Some games branch out a bit by letting players move through dialogue with options, but this is just a non-linear adaptation, making it an even more custom experience. Custom experiences are the future of games, in my opinion, and the movement of the industry seems to very strongly reflect that. From indie games like Minecraft, where a newly introduced player faces little to no direction but builds their own interesting story full of zombies, caves, and mining, to triple-A titles like Skyrim, where some of the most fun you’ll have is in procedural, unscripted events throughout the game. A game’s storyline should give it a bar-minimum for complexity and entertainment, but a truly good game should allow for far more than that in how players build their own experience. I almost didn’t even finish the main quest-line in Skyrim, because I was so busy taking out bandits and killing procedurally-generated dragons to care. To think that those experiences are worthless is a major misunderstanding.

 

These points really irked me, and hearing these out of the mouths of more than one professor really made me question what they can do for me in terms of game development. Not to mention being told that “I’m not the audience for this class,” when the vast majority of students in the game development-focused class are going into other majors, while I’m going into game development.

Note: just want to make it clear that the class is not a game design class; it’s an introductory game development course. However, it was the statements given on game design in the class that frustrate me, and I still think that they are ill-informed and badly supported ideas even if the class is based around development rather than design.

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Praepoch – Ludum Dare #24 Entry


So I joined the 48-hour Ludum Dare competition this weekend with my entry “Praepoch.” The name comes from the Latin prefix “prae-” meaning “after” and “epoch,” meaning “the beginning of a time of great change.” The idea behind this is that you are uncovering the origins of species in your world through your quest to discover what the small creatures that attacked you outside your house are from. The world is relatively small, but it features a variety of different places, music, and enemies, as well as three different weapons and a few little interesting mechanics. The idea behind this is to enjoy the world and take it in, all the while trying to discover what exactly it all means in terms of the theme of LD #24, “Evolution.”

In short, I really hope you enjoy Praepoch as much as I had a blast putting it together in the 48-hours I had!


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Seedling

Seedling (renamed from “Shrum”) is an adventure game in which you play as a small boy who is tasked with finding a seed to replace an enormous tree for your creator, the Oracle.  You will fight many monsters, collect many tools, and eventually find a way to get to the seed—at whatever cost that may be to yourself and this old land you have changed so much along the way.

This project has been a long and interesting one, spanning over six and half months, to bring about my vision of an adventure game that lets the player do what they do best—killing, collecting, and learning—while at the same time bringing them to question many of the ways that they’ve learned to approach action-adventure games.

Seedling features over 100 areas spread across an overworld with eight dungeons, six different weapons, and several other types of items that give the player new abilities that will help them traverse a world that varies from icy wasteland, to heavy forest, underground caverns, floating clouds, and magic castles.  Boss battles and enemy grunts will meet the player at every turn as they try to gather the tools necessary to reach the seed; a goal that will destroy beings known as the Creatures of the Relic, all while under the eye of the Watcher, who sees and judges your every action.

Thanks to Roger Hicks for his help in making the music, sound effects, and trailer; Sheldon Ketterer for making that wonderful image above; and many others for their help on the concept and execution of the game.

We are currently seeking sponsorship.  Please email me if you’re interested in the project!

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Shrum

Dungeon 1

Well, I haven’t posted for quite a while!  The reasons for this are a select few–mostly that I started a new game project, but also that I’ve started freshman year of college and that has a bit of a workload attached.  This game project has been very fun so far, however, as it is by far my largest game yet.  It has exactly 60 levels at the time of writing, and it is a significant deviation from my typical completed works, as it is an adventure game.  ”Shrum,” as it has been called to this point, is largely inspired by the older Legend of Zelda games, and is centered around a little guy working his way through an open world filled with (what will eventually be) 8 dungeons and many item pickups.

Dungeon 2

The storyline is still very much in progress, and certain other important features are still on their way (no saving, health regenerates on room entry, combat needs to be tweaked, etc.), but I have been feeling very good about this project as it has been the longest-running project, as well as the most content-heavy.

Dungeon 3

There are currently 5 complete dungeons (except for the 4th dungeon boss), and I just did tilesets for the 6th and 7th.  There will be 8 final dungeons, 7 of which will give you new permanent upgrades, and the 8th will be a final dungeon.

Dungeon 4

The items that you find in each dungeon are quite different, starting with the sword, then the shield, and ending in more unique items like the “ghost spear.”  In all, I hope to bring back some LoZ nostalgia in players, but I want to make sure that the game style and many of its elements are uniquely my own.

Dungeon 5

Working with me on the project is my friend, Joe Biglin, who is helping me with ideas and music.  So far there are no sounds in the game, but he’ll be helping me with that by providing a different track for each dungeon, a few for the overworld, and boss music.  I will be making the other sound effects in BFXR as well.

Dungeon 6

I hope this has fueled a bit of interest for what is to come with Shrum in the future, and I will be seeking sponsorship once the game is complete, for anyone who is interested in talking with me about it.

Thanks!

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Minecraft: What Makes It Hit, Stick, and Grow

This is a recent article I wrote for Indie(Function); magazine about my perceptions on what makes Minecraft so successful:

Minecraft: What Makes It Hit, Stick, and Grow

Guest Writer: Connor Ullmann

What Makes It Hit

Minecraft was amazingly confusing the first time I played it.  Suddenly, I find myself in this pixelly world, walking around and fumbling with the controls a bit, learning to jump and use my inventory, without any kind of tutorial or opening NPC telling you how to do this and that and what to do next.  This was initially cumbersome, but I soon caught on to the purpose of this—Minecraft’s unhelpful world really embodied what it is; it’s a world where you’re figuring out what you want to do, and you’re all alone to do it yourself.  In a sense, not having that NPC there made the world all yours, and that feeling really pulls you into the game and makes you want to find out more about it.  This is part of what makes Minecraft so immersive—players are given full control, and have to learn on their own how to use it.  Dying to zombies on your first night, making your first pickaxe, crafting your first torch—these are all important in keeping the player interested in the game, as well as keeping them engaged with thoughts of how each new tool can be used.  Minecraft gives you a world with scant few rules, and you need to figure out for yourself how it all works—thus you discover every facet of it, and the game keeps on giving.

 

What Makes It Stick

Picking away, block after block, seems like an enormous waste of time when seen from outside Minecraft.  You’re going to hold down your mouse button for hours watching the same crack animation overlay appear on block after block, just to find a one-in-a-million diamond ore pit (which will just make you more pickaxes with which to dig more?)  The answer for most people who play, however, is an almost begrudging “yes.”  Because Minecraft, even though it is built on very few core elements, has a sense of majestic discovery to it—on the other side of any block could lie an enormous and expansive cave filled with lava, water, coal, redstone, iron, diamond… Everything you need to help make your recreation of Middle Earth, but at the risk of creepers, zombies, and spiders that will scare you half to death when you find them, and enrage you when you die to them.  Minecraft is complicated, yet the elements within it are simple and not built to make you play with them in a single manner.  The piston wasn’t given a purpose when it was designed—it was designed with the idea of letting players give it purpose.

The future of gaming is in procedural generation.  I say this because I know the feeling of floating around in a Minecraft boat just looking at mountain formations and saying “man, that’s awesome!  I should put my base there.”  Playing an FPS with straight-edged levels and storyline, with the same ammo box in the same place for every player every time the level is played, removes the sense of discovery and instead makes you a role-player (don’t get me wrong, this is good for some games, but not for a truly addictive and replayable one).

Procedural generation, alongside letting the player discover the game without the developer’s hand-holding, has a few subtler benefits.  I’ve worked on my own small Minecraft-esque 2D digging platformer, and one of the most inspiring moments while working on the game was when I had finished building the cave generation algorithm—it lined walls in gold and limestone, created long, dark tunnels, and added pale enemies randomly that would attack you.  Walking into that first cave gave me an amazing burst of motivation, because I was discovering the game, not just making it.  This is an unseen benefit for using procedural generation because, with it, even developers get to feel out the game and enjoy it as they make it, making for a better game overall with more effort and motivation driving its creation.  Minecraft is also is an opportunity for the developer, given the fact that almost every idea is functional within it.  That, more than Minecraft’s explosive popularity and money-making power, is why I wish I had made Minecraft.

 

What Makes It Grow

Building in Minecraft brings about a need to share that is unparalleled by conventional “sharing” in video games used today—one example is online highscores, which are a way in which developers attempt to create replayability by driving you to beat others’ scores online and show your prowess at a game.  In Minecraft, however, you care much more about what you’ve done because you built something—something that isn’t just a number or an achievement.  And, just like showing your mom the lego toy you made when you were little, you crave for the world to see your 1:1 scale sandstone Taj Mahal that you spent 14 hours working on.

Now, what better way to share your vast, labyrinthine tunnel network to the world than through the marvel that is YouTube?  This need to share, in and of itself, brings about a new reason that Minecraft is successful.  When you show off your scale-size replica of the Star Trek Enterprise, people who are interested in Star Trek will stumble across your video when looking for Star Trek videos—this means that the interests that the audience has with which they populate their Minecraft world are also instrumental in propagating the game to an even wider audience.  This is very different from most games, which breed creativity within the game’s own sphere (for example, using different peripherals to build your own gun in an FPS) that take away the audience’s ability to bring in outside influences and share them through the game.

 

What Can Be Learned

Minecraft hits with its originality (sorry guys, can’t give you too many tips on how to replicate that!) and open world.  It is a discovery that is left to the player to understand.  Once understood, Minecrafters can build on what they have and discover new places with rarer ore and cool formations (has anyone else made the floor of their bedroom out of pumpkins?  No?)  Last, players want to show what they’ve made and are making, which is made easy through YouTube and the built-in screenshot button in Minecraft.  Sharing is absolutely crucial for Minecraft, as it helps build the audience and keep players interested because everyone will want to show what they’ve made to the world.  These are make Minecraft hit, stick, and grow with gamers.

Minecraft is an amazing game, and I hope it continues to gather a larger fan base.  It has been an inspiration for me, and I hope this article helped to outline some of the basics in Minecraft that have made it so successful, and how they can be used in more games today!

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Hollow


“Stunning graphics, great gameplay, overall a freakishly awesome effort. I’m blown away.” -Christer Kaitila

I made Hollow for Ludum Dare #21, which is a 48-hour game development competition held online in which you must make all content (sound effects, music, graphics, and non-library programming) during the 48-hour period.  This was a really awesome experience; I’ve meant to get into one for a long time, as they’ve always sounded like a lot of fun, but the scheduling (it’s always on a weekend) really made it difficult.  This time, however, the stars aligned and I got to work on the game almost every waking hour throughout the weekend, and I’m extremely happy with the result.

Hollow is an atmospheric, creepy little platformer where you play as a white creature who has fallen down a pit into a cave where he has to fend off multiple multi-eyed, pupil-less monsters to try and escape.  This fit the theme of “escape” as much as I could think of, but the development was much more about the game itself than the competition.  I haven’t gotten this excited about a game in a while, and even if the game doesn’t do well in the competition, it’s all worth it simply because I finished a game that I truly enjoyed making!

Anyways, in the future look out for a more complete version with more levels and content, as I’m hoping to get a sponsor for this game.  Thanks for reading!

Other comments so far:

“That was a pretty wicked and wicked pretty game.” -Zemmi
“This was a beautiful game. Aside from its length, it left no indication that it was made inside 48 hours.” -Josh @ Dreamland
“Very well executed, This had much more content than I would expect from a 48 hour event.” -hamster_mk_4

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Project Gamate Goes Live!

Yesterday came the official release of Project Gamate, a new website dedicated to a project of mine where I will build a game based solely upon the ideas given to me by the community.  Each update I post, I will choose one of the top three highest-rated ideas (as proposed and voted upon by the community) and it will be added to the game.  I’m really excited to work on it, and I think Noel Berry did an incredibly job designing the site.  Big thanks to him!

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Quietus II Trailer Released

I recently created a promotional Quietus II trailer to get some more interest from sponsors so that I can release the game, and IndieGames.com was nice enough to post the trailer on their blog (click the picture to see the post).

The video itself can be found here:

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Java

I recently started programming using Java with the “Processing” library, which has been a ton of fun for quickly laying out prototypes and little tech demos (as I love to make).  On the gaming page I’ve recently added Points, Circles, and Maps (yes, incredible names, I know!)  Each of these programs uses simple math in 2D and 3D, making some cool effects.

In Points, the basis is that there are 1000 points floating in a 3D space, and they beat to the beat of a heartbeat when the mouse is not held.  Using the first two number keys, you can manipulate the points, and you can make the points fly randomly by holding the mouse.  The camera will fly around it in 3D, making a pretty smooth-looking simulation.

Circles is based around the idea of circles floating in space that will always instantly expand to fully occupy their space before hitting the edge of another circle.  Each circle will do this, and draw solid lines to any circle it is in contact with, and it will also draw almost transparent lines to others that are close to within two times its radius.

Maps is just a program that takes a grayscale geographic map of the world colored with brightness by the terrain height, and then it pixelizes it into blocks that will grow taller the farther you move your mouse to the right edge of the screen, all the while zooming around it with the camera!

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Lightus

I’ve begun work on my next game using a lighting engine (open source, feel free to use it!) that I put together after giving a bit of thought to pixel-by-pixel raycasting, and I’m really enjoying this process.  The game is pretty far from completion, as I would want to do a full adventure game (probably a metroidvania) and so far all I have are a couple enemies, what will most likely end up being a boss, rudimentary attacking, and a level editor that I’m building alongside the game (presumably to release with it).  Here’s a screenshot of one of the pre-made levels I have in the editor with some static lights I put down using <space>:

The level editor is hopefully going to be pretty easy to use after my work on it, as right now it uses XML files that I can load into the game by simply copy-pasting levels I’ve made.  This will definitely speed up the process of finishing the game once I get to simply grinding out levels later on before release.  Today I added some background color tiles that you can put in of varying size, and I’m using three default colors right now; I can add as many as I like without any extra effort, so there will probably be several more that I will add in the future.  Also, I added an obstacle, which is a red beam of light.  This one was interesting to add to the editor, as I wanted to let the player preview where the beam will carry before and after the beam is placed, which was a bit of a challenge.  Here’s an image of it in-game:
Please let me know what you think of the game as I work on it; I’ve already begun to run low on ideas, and eventually I’ll need a storyline for it.  Help would be greatly appreciated!  Here’s a link to the game on the website, which will be updated frequently: Lightus (name in progress).

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Project Gamate


I started a project this week with Noel Berry (Canadian game developer, creator of Leap4Blue, and brother of Liam Berry, who made the music for Quietus) that has been so far dubbed “Gamate.”  This will be a community-driven project, and a webpage will soon be made with more information and the proper description of how it will be fully community-oriented and the path (or lack thereof) for development.  I’ve been working on a level editor for the game that will allow players to make and share levels, as well as allow us to make XML-based levels for the game easily and intuitively.  Above is a picture of the editor with many features that may not be present in the future version but were placeholders and leftovers from when I worked on the project before deciding on the latest plan for development.  Anyway, look for updates, as they will be very frequent when things start rolling!

 

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Honors Application Essay

I wrote my honors application essay for the University of Michigan a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed writing it, to my surprise.  There were a few prompts to choose from, but I chose one that I thought would be interesting to twist in my own way: “Take a complicated idea or object and make it simple.”  In response to this prompt, I wrote a ~600 word essay on how to make water using cellular automata, in layman’s terms (for the most part).  Without further ado, have a read:

One concept that I have found of continuous interest as a programmer has been that of water.  It is a fluid and, as such, it has properties that would seem to make it very difficult to realistically simulate in a fast, simplistic way in a video game or program.  Making water fall, splash, or spread outward due to celerity in waves, and still settle into available crevices neatly would appear to require a vast amount of calculation and rendering precision in executing it on even a basic level.  In the real world, this liquid interacts on a molecular level, which results in these properties of which we are all familiar.  But a program would not be able to run with per-molecule level precision at any kind of reasonable rate, if at all.  In programming video games, there exists a constant dance of balancing the game experience with the speed at which it is able to run; in essence, finding elegant solutions to complicated concepts is the hallmark of a talented programmer, and simplicity correlates directly with its running speed and its overall quality.  In order to solve these kinds of speed problems with water and still give it the capability to form waterfalls, lakes, and varying water levels, from deep to shallow, on entirely randomly-generated terrain where specific-case implementation is impossible, I use a simple technique called “cellular automata.”  This technique divides the aquatic region into squares or rectangles to make a grid where each “cell” can hold a possible amount of water.  Each cell has a set x/y position, width, height, and percentage of fill.  Using only the last value, the fill of the cell, and rules governing these cellular interactions, we can develop a program in which water is able to act in a naturally fluid manner and behave according to all of the tendencies listed above.

In determining how these different cells interact, it simply comes down to deciding how water would act with the different cells around it in reality; if the current cell has more water than the cells to the left or right of it and at least one of them is not obstructed by an impediment of some sort, then this cell must empty water out into that cell to make both have an equivalent fill value.  Also, if the cell below the current cell is not blocked by ground or another obstacle and is not completely filled with water, it must fill up with as much water as it can from the current, higher cell until it is completely full.  Then, we simply have each cell draw a rectangle whose height is determined by its fill value, and we have a program where water can flow left and right, as well as by gravity.  By using these simple, logical rules and executing them for each of the cells that contain water several times a second, a program can easily handle this method  and give an effect that will allow for waterfalls, bodies of water with varying depths, and waves.  Also, with a little tweaking, pressure calculations can be implemented to show when water is shallower or deeper.  Thus, the daunting task of making water adapt in a predictable fashion to a randomly generated environment is quickly turned into a simple case of taking a step back, looking at how water works in the real world, developing rules that fit the natural manner of a liquid, and manipulating a single value, the percentage of fill, to represent that behavior in each cell of a grid.

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A New Game

New Game

So I decided to start a new serious game project; lately I’ve just been tinkering around with random concepts without a cohesive game with which I can put a real bit of gameplay. So, today, I started a project that has a little green guy who can shoot an enemy that will bite when you come near and an enemy that can fly around and he’ll freeze and turn into a platform when you press his button (or die if you shoot him). It’s playable at this point, and darn near complete in what it does; it’s not really buggy, and all of the elements that I currently have in it, like the enemies, are pretty well-polished. Obviously, though, there isn’t much of a game there, so I’m going to have to expand. The main issue, however, is that I don’t really have a main mechanic to build the game on… Right now it’s just another mindless platform shooter. I’d like to keep the level design from getting too intense with puzzle elements, but I also want to keep things interesting. Any ideas?

Note: It will be iPhone compatible, so no crazy button-frenzy controls!  I want it to have the player only ever use left, right, jump, and shoot buttons, which will be placed in a static position on the screen.  Beyond that, it has to be something that at least isn’t used frequently like jump or shoot; a power-up activation button or something would be okay.

 

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Multi-Touch Softbody Physics, Day Two: Collisions

So I did some more messing around with my softbody simulation, staying up to an ungodly hour, and I managed to get some relatively stable collisions along filled figures like circles, rectangles, and triangles using some work with formulas I found in this article. The article gives a nice overview of softbody physics, and I got some nice results for the collisions when I grabbed a couple formulas (geez, those given values were not easy to find…). Anyway, the game is a bit laggy now, sadly, so optimization is going to have to come before I throw anything public with it. I really would like to stay off of the iPad or iOS devices considering how limited it will be in the FPS department, but having the multi-touch on the screen really puts me over the edge; it’s just not the same on a computer. I’ll put up a version to play online at some point, if I decide against the Kickstarter project (mentioned in the last blog post) or if it fails on me, but it’ll be a bit before I know whether or not it’s a good time to release. Here’s another picture with me grabbing one of the nodes and the bottom part hitting a floating circle:

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Multi-Touch Softbody Physics for iOS and Summer Plans

I just started an experiment yesterday in using Verlet Physics Integration to make a multi-touch softbody physics engine on my Dad’s iPad, and I made a cool little app where you place nodes (grid or not), then you can press play to run the app using the soft physics and your shape(s) that you made. You can connect different nodes, and you can delete them and such to play around with it. It’s a bit of fun, but there’s not a ton of replayability thus far; basically just messing around for a moment. I want to make it so that I can get some softbody collisions in there, but I’m having difficulty getting it running, so disconnected objects pretty well ignore each other altogether.

One cool feature is that you can grab up to eleven vertices when playing around, which is a ton of fun. I’ve gotten all ten fingers each grabbing a node and stretching the shape out, which is cool to throw around in different ways. Below is a picture of me grabbing with three fingers:

Touch my softbody.

This little app is functional for browser play, without the multi-touch, but I think I may wait because I’m planning to open up donations for a possible Kickstarter project where I will take on making 15 small flash toys (like the others I have been making recently, i.e. Conglomerater, Blocks, and Mold) over the span of 30 days from June 1 – July 1. I may mess around with the number of programs (possibly reduce it to ten, in case I’m over-estimating my ability), but I would put it up for about $3,000 minimum of donations to fully fund it over 30 days in May. We’ll see how it goes, but I’d really like to do this, yet I’d need the money to pay for it.

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AIR 2.6 and iOS


In this post, I’m going to show how to take a normal Flash project made in FlashDevelop and make it work for your iDevices.

First, you’ll need to download Adobe AIR 2.6 and start a project using it.  Then, you can simply copy-paste your game with all of it’s contents into this new project and compile.  Starting with this new, AIR 2.6 compiled SWF, you can start the process of making it work for an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad device.  At the very end of the tutorial, I will have packaging .bat files and an example XML app descriptor file.

Another tutorial for this development process can be found here.  Yet another using Flash Builder instead of FlashDevelop can be found here.

1.  You’re going to need to become an Apple Developer to get this to work; it costs $99 for app development.  You will not need an actual Mac to do any of the following sections, except for the final upload of the app, as that must be done using the App Loader that only works on Mac computers.  I personally just used Windows for the whole of development, and simply had a friend of mine do the actual uploading of the App.

2.  Install OpenSSL for Windows.  This will be needed in order to make a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). Here is a .bat file you can run that will accomplish this for you:

path %PATH%;C:\OPENSSL FILEPATH\bin
openssl genrsa -out -passout pass:YOURPASSWORD mykey.key 2048
openssl req -new -key mykey.key ^
-out CERTIFICATESIGNINGREQUESTFILENAME.certSigningRequest ^
-subj “/emailAddress=YOUREMAIL@example.com, CN=YOUR NAME, C=US”

3.  Using your new CSR, you can upload it to your Apple Developer Provisioning Portal (under “Certificates”) to get a certificate.  If you are working individually (essentially, there’s no team admin who will need to approve your certificate) just reload the page and you should be able to download the certificate file.  This file will be named “developer_identity.cer”.  Using this, you can now attach provisioning profiles to it (we haven’t made any yet, so don’t be surprised if you can’t!), as shown below with the attached “Home” and “Connor Ullmann” profiles attached to mine.

4.  Next, plug in a device you want to test your program with and open up iTunes.  Click on the device’s name, and open up the summary.  There, you will see the Name, Capacity, Software Version, and the Serial Number.  Click on the serial number, and you will see the Unique Device ID (UDID) appear in its place.

Now, go to the “Devices” tab in the Provisioning Portal and click “Add Devices.”  Enter the name of your device, and enter in the 40-character UDID.

5.  Let’s make an App ID!  Go to the “App ID” section in the Provisioning Portal and click “New App ID” in the upper-right.  Fill out the form with a name like “Quietus” for my game Quietus, have a new seed be generated in the drop-down menu, and make a suffix that goes by the form of “com.yourname.appname”.

6.  We can now make a provisioning profile that will allow this device to run a program you put on it; you can’t simply put your app on any device, as with the Android App Store without it making it through a review by Apple in the Apple App Store.  To make a provisioning profile, go to the “Provisioning” tab in the Provisioning Portal and click on the “New Profile” button, or simply click here.  Add any device you wish to allow to run with this provisioning profile, and click submit.  Then, you can now hit “Download” to the right of the profile table to download the provisioning profile (it’s file-extension is .mobileprovision).

7.  With iTunes open and synced with your device, open up the folder with the newly downloaded provisioning profile and drop it into iTunes.  Now, sync your device with iTunes again.

8.  Execute this .bat with the path for you OpenSSL’s bin directory, and you will get a p12 certificate.

path %PATH%;C:\OPENSSL FILEPATH\bin
openssl x509 -in developer_identity.cer -inform DER ^
-out developer_pem_identity.pem -outform PEM
set RANDOM=.rnd
openssl pkcs12 -export -inkey mykey.key ^
-in developer_pem_identity.pem -out iphone_dev.p12

9.  At this point, you will have a plethora of different files, like your CSR, your CER, your .mobileprovision, your mykey.key, your iphone_dev.p12, etc.  For the most part, you will be able to ignore all of them except for the .p12, which will be packaged with all of your files (the SWF, the p12, the app descriptor XML file, the default start-up images, and the icon images) in the final .ipa which will run on your device.  Make the appropriate changes to this template below for your application descriptor file (save as “application.xml”, for example):
More information about the XML document can be found here.

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″ ?>
<application xmlns=”http://ns.adobe.com/air/application/2.6″>

<id>com.yournamefromappid.appnamefromappid</id>
<versionNumber>1.0</versionNumber>
<filename>APP NAME (put what you like, like “MyAppiOS”)</filename>
<name>NAME (this shows on the actual iPod as the name)</name>
<description>APP DESCRIPTION</description>
<copyright>YOUR NAME</copyright>

<initialWindow>
<title>ARBITRARYWINDOWNAME</title>
<content>INPUTSWFFILENAME.swf</content>
<systemChrome>standard</systemChrome>
<transparent>false</transparent>
<visible>true</visible>
<minimizable>true</minimizable>
<autoOrients>false</autoOrients>
<resizable>false</resizable>
<renderMode>gpu</renderMode>
<fullScreen>true</fullScreen>
<aspectRatio>landscape</aspectRatio>
</initialWindow>

<icon>
<image29x29>ICON29x29.png</image29x29>
<image48x48>ICON48x48.png</image48x48>
<image57x57>ICON57x57.png</image57x57>
<image72x72>ICON72x72.png</image72x72>
<image512x512>ICON512x512.png</image512x512>
</icon>

<supportedProfiles>mobileDevice desktop</supportedProfiles>

<iPhone>
<InfoAdditions>
<![CDATA[
<key>UIStatusBarStyle</key>
<string>UIStatusBarStyleBlackOpaque</string>
<key>UIRequiresPersistentWiFi</key>
<string>NO</string>
<key>UIDeviceFamily</key>
<array>
<string>1</string>
<string>2</string>
</array>
]]>
</InfoAdditions>
</iPhone>

</application>

10.  When you have compiled your SWF file and have finished all of the previous steps, you will be able to package your application.  In the same folder that you run the final packaging .bat file from, you will need the SWF, the p12, you app descriptor XML, your .mobileprovision file, your icon images (size 29×29, 48×48, 57×57, 72×72, and 512×512), and default images to show just before start-up (called Default.png, Default-Portrait.png, and Default-Landscape.png; these will make your app seem as though it’s loading faster by showing an image directly before the app actually starts). Below is an example image of my project “Quietus” before packaging with all of the necessary files:

Here is a .bat that you will run, with the necessary changes:
Note: when executing this .bat file, if you are asked for a password, use the password you entered when making your key in step 2.

path %PATH%;C:\AIR 2.6 FILEPATH\bin\
adt -package ^
-target ipa-test -provisioning-profile MOBILEPROVISIONFILENAME.mobileprovision ^
-keystore P12FILENAME.p12 -storetype pkcs12 ^
OUTPUTIPAFILENAME.ipa APPINFOXMLFILENAME.xml INPUTSWFFILENAME.swf ^
ICON29x29.png ICON48x48.png ICON57x57.png ICON72x72.png ICON512x512.png ^
Default.png Default-Landscape.png Default-Portrait.png

11. This .bat will output a .ipa file; this is the final app file that you will be able to play on a device that is allowed to use it, as given when you set up the provisioning profile. To try this out, just drag and drop the .ipa file into your iTunes and sync your device. If everything works out, your device should now have your app on it, and it should run!

Final Notes: Here’s a little bit of iPod/iPhone/iPad information. AIR 2.6 only works on iPhone/iPod Touch 3GS+, and works on both iPads, so iPhone 3G isn’t supported. Also, the iPod/iPhone resolution is 960×640 with the retina display, and the iPad is 1024×768.

I hope you enjoy making iOS apps, and I will be happy to answer any questions in the comments!

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Quietus – iOS released!

 

It’s made its way through the labyrinthine maze that is the Apple review service, and it is now playable on the App Store!  It is ready to go for iPhone (3gs+), iPod Touch (3rd gen+), and iPad, and it costs a whopping $0.99; help the cause, give me money to feed my Wendy’s addiction!

 

Reviews:
IndieGames Blog
Appolicious
iFanzine
Games Radar

 

Below are links to some reviews of Quietus when it was released for PC:
JayIsGames
IndieGames Blog
DIYGamer
Kotaku AU
Bytejacker (voted the winner in the Free Indie Rapidfire)
AV Club
E4
Canard PC
Game Polisher Radio
FlashPunk

Just to let you all know, I will be doing quite a bit of development for iOS in the future. My next several games should be fully playable on iOS devices, and the controls schemes will be tailored for one-touch play. I hope you enjoy Quietus for the App Store as much as it was loved for PC, and I hope it keeps you coming back for Quietus II when it hits for computer and mobile platforms!

iTunes Store

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New Art


I posted 8 art pieces to my previously astonishing collection of one. These were all drawn in the past year using my drawing tablet on a laptop, and they were a lot of fun to draw.  The weirdest one, that being the really colorful “Trippy Beast” was my first foray into doing some art that is just plain random.


A lot of the reason I don’t draw very often is that I see drawing pictures as something akin to “lazy game development.”  Essentially, if I like an idea enough to do a very large, dramatic, scenic picture of it, I might as well make a game where the elements of it actually interact.  For that reason, most of my drawings tend to be something that would be hard to represent in a game with the level of animation capability I have, or they are simply because I was too lazy to attempt a full game with the idea.

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Going Mobile

So I’ve been doing some pretty big working getting some work done with making mobile applications.  I started out doing some work with iOS with Flash on Windows 7, but it turned out that the Adobe Packager for iPhone was a total deadweight and I couldn’t scratch more than 9 / 60 FPS at best with a simple program that just told me that FPS.  I gave this up, and I moved on to working on the BlackBerry Playbook, which has a sweet deal where any developer who gets an app submitted by March 31, 2011 gets a free-bee Playbook!  I submitted Quietus II mobile after some tweaking with the controls, and I’m hoping to catch on with this deal.  I’ve run into some trouble getting the signing keys from them, however, so it may end up breaking the deal since the app is doomed if I don’t get them in time for the deal.  Fingers crossed!  Below is a screenshot of the playbook version of Quietus II:

Wee!  Touch movement!

So I finished up this version and submitted to the BlackBerry App Store; it was really nice, because porting the game was incredibly easy, even with having to make the new movement system.  Following this, I found out that the day after I quit working on the App Store with Flash stuff, they released Adobe AIR 2.6, which makes Flash run much faster on iDevices; this meant I could go back to making myself some games for iOS!  So, in a night or two I managed to put Quietus II on iPad running at 25/60 FPS, which works very well considering it’s still above the 24 FPS minimum for eye check period (makes it so the game doesn’t appear laggy, just slower) and because slowing the game down for unfamiliar controls is something I would’ve wanted to do in the first place.

My dad trying out Quietus II on iPad.

With some input from Vieko Franetovic, I’ve got Quietus up and running on iPad and I’m submitting it to the App Store.  Sad story of it all is that I’ve managed tog et through every step of the process on a Windows computer, down to packaging the app for upload and even filling out the app profile with the version number, icons, screenshots, etc., but the final act of putting it up for approval has to be done on a Mac.  It appears there’s no way around it, so I’m putting it up via Mac.

On another note, I’ve put up a few different programs for cellular automata, destructible terrain, and a weird 2D string ball that looks like it’s morph-rotating in 3D space (turns out it was an accident in the programs math that made it look like that).  These programs were never really shown outside my computer, so enjoy the fact they haven’t been played by very many people!  Lastly, Robot Climb was released across the internet after the 7 day sponsor period on Retromundi.com, so try it out on the games page here.

Thanks for reading!  I’ll try to put out more updates on what I’m doing as things progress, and I’ll keep putting out my little flash toys as I go.  Bye!

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ConnorUllmann.com is Unveiled!

Finally it is up and going with a great design thanks to Noel Berry!  On here I will be posting any flash web toys and games that I make, along with art and general blog entries about my life and what’s going on with my games and such.  Keep an eye out for a bunch of new content, because I’ll be putting up my work over the past year or so as often as I can!

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