Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

PSA time

A couple of links today.

If you want to go to the Flash Gaming Summit and would like to save 15%, enter the code "Blog_gamingyourway" and hey presto, more money for beer ( Thanks to Ja'Nay for including us in that offer ).

Next up, Garret emailed us about develteam, a social networking site for indie devs. I'll be honest I've really not had time to register / check it properly out yet, but the concept of helping to form teams in a structured environment ( As opposed to just asking on NG, or even FlashKit games, remember when that was a thing ? ) is a very cool idea.
Speaking as a coder it's not easy setting up working with an artist who has the same vision for a game as you, this should hopefully make it easier, and is well worth checking out.

That's it, pimping all done.

Squize. 

2012 in words and pictures

It's that time again. These normally take forever to do, but I think this one can be knocked out in about 5 mins as we've done fuck all this year.

Shall we start ? Yes, lets.

January:

As always we have our birthday in January, we're 5 now, and still not imploded under the weight of our stupidity.
We were still basking in the lovely Outpost glow ( 2011 that came out, and we've still not finished the sequel. The Beatles still release more albums than we do games ).
We did have an interesting interview with Jean-Philippe Auclair, author of The Miner, which I'm sure you all use now.

February:

We picked up a little head of steam this month. It started with the first image from Outpost:Swarm and the start of the DN8:Pulse development.

We actually finished the first beta of Swarm at the end of Feb if I remember correctly... but there was still a way to go before it would see the light of day.
Olli also pimped a rather lovely lego house he'd put together.

March:

More DN8:Pulse, I tried to be quite active about it's development on the blog, posting weekly updates ( Which is very active compared to the last couple of months on here ).
Want to see some glowy bullets to help fill this post out ? Yeah, why not. 

And that's month 3.

April:

A great month, with both Swarm finally launching on Miniclip < I thought I should link to them, they're an up and coming portal and need all the traffic they can get.
We also got a pre-release review of DN8:P on the excellent FlashMush blog, which we were happy about.
But when exactly did DN8 II, the stage3D mix, come out ?

May:

Ah, the 1st of May. Thanks to Jules and Rob at TurboNuke for sponsoring that bad boy.
One thing we learned was never ever bother doing a stage3D game, as these stats revealed.

Overall I'm pleased with most of DN8:Pulse, I'm glad I did it, but I did make an actual loss on the game after paying for the ( Great ) art and music. It did well on newgrounds ( Our only daily 1st ), got a great review at Jays, and died on it's arse everywhere else.

( Never do a stage3D game, I can't stress that enough ).

June:

I hit 40, and for some reason didn't mention it. Normally I like to big up my birthdays.


I did finally write up a postmortem for Swarm, which was good to do. I really like that game, yes it's limited in scope and with hindsight we could have dropped more references to the story in there, but the AI is cool and it just plays nice and simple.

Also a sneak peek of "Quantic Velocity", our failed game this year. We started off using stage3D, then saw just how badly DN8:P had done, restarted it as a horizontally Uridium like game, then restarted it again as a vertical scrolling one. Just an aborted mess. I'm kinda glad Lux and I went through that, better on a smaller game than a large one we really care about.
I don't think we had a clear enough focus on what it should be, and then I backed myself into a corner with the baddie AI and it was just easier to save the assets for another day.

July:

Nothing much to see here, apart from work finally starting on O2. So we're 5 months, nearly 6 months, into it's development and still no private beta. There are reasons...

August:

We pushed O:Swarm out to Facebook as a little experiment. Due to a lack of pimping on our behalf it's pretty much stayed as it is, we want to go back to it and give it more social love, but if no one's playing it then there's little point ( And no one is playing it 'cause of a lack of social features. Oh ).

Worth doing, just to see all the hoops we have to jump through to get a game on there, and it's far from dreadful, we just didn't expand on it as we could have.

September:

I experimented with HaXe NME. I'd like to go back to it sometime, but when I really don't know.

On the O2 front I added specular lighting, which if I do say so myself, looks fucking stunning.

Hurts lower end cpu's, so it'll have to be an option, which is such a pity.
Also Lux nailed the title screen for O2, which is important as I really like a title screen in place on a game as it helps set the tone ( I'm sure I've mentioned this a million times before, so I'm going to cut myself off before I bore myself ).

October:

Bit of an almost constructive post from me for a change, about Survival horror. If nothing else it was a slightly indulgent way for me to get things into perspective for O2.
The comment which started it all, and quoted in that post, has really helped define what we're going to do with O2. Lots more one off set pieces ( Which is one of the reasons it's still in development ). 

Swarm made it's merry way to Newgrounds, and did quite well ( After being fucked in the eye for a daily 2nd. These things don't normally matter to me, but there was some strange voting that day, which also screwed us for the Halloween comp. Bitter ).

 

And that is officially where the year ended for us. In nearly 6 years of doing the GYW thing we've never let the blog slip for so long. Two actual releases in a year, one a sequel and one a spin off ( And a cancelled futuristic racing game ). Not the most productive we've ever been.
Let me explain, it's not you, it's me. We've been suckling at the adver-game teet a lot more this year than other years. We don't pursue freelance work, but sometimes it just lands in your lap and you'd be silly to say no to it.

So this year we did a quiz plus mode7 driving game for Goodyear ( We're not overly proud of it, hence the lack of mention of it on the blog. Very low budget, and it unfortunately shows ), I did a couple of Flash games for a certain cigarette company ( NDA'd up on these, I don't think I can even mention the agency I worked for ), then an Android tablet app for them which was purely for "in the field" employees, so that's not even available to get anywhere.
Then in November I went over to the US for a month ( Just got back on the 21st December ) doing more Flash stuff for the same company, but mainly JS/HTML ( And no, not "HTML5" which is just a stupid nonsense catch all term for all different kinds of tech, as I had to learn quite quickly ).
I think in total there are 6 Flash games, a tablet one and 4 or so html apps that Olli and I have worked on that we've been unable to mention on here.

See, we're not that lazy, we've just changed from being open and honest about everything to being sly. And evil. It's the new direction for us.

Ok, I guess this it the part we look to the future. I'm currently playing with porting Chock-A-Box over to html. That was originally a game in a day for me in Flash, it's fucking well not in JS. On the 2nd Jan I'm back full time on Outpost 2, which I'm really looking forward to and from there...

We think O2 will be our last sponsored game, it's just a badly broken business model ( There's a blog post on it's own, maybe I should bite my tongue until we've sold O2 ). In the new year we're going to be looking at new tech and new ways to get our games out there.

Thanks for always sticking with us, and we wish you a happy New Year.

Squize.

Beware! Information ahead!

Nothing game related this time from me (you don't want to hear about the ups and downs of [re-]writing an e-learning platform, do you?)

So what we have here today is something Lego related. I think I mentioned once or twice my fascination for Lego and for architecture (on g+ at least) and in between coding session I started to build my own version of Case Study House #22 (or CSH#22 for short, also know as House Stahl). I'm not entirely sure what I like more, the house itself or the picture of it (done by Julius Shulman).

I began tinkering with it sometime last year (the early part) and I guess a first model was ready by mid 2011, ordering it through Lego's Design ByMe wasn't quite an option as the model came in at about €180 (some 930 parts after all), so I filed it away as a nice thing done.

Came December and I felt the need of buying something useless so I had another look at the CSH#22 model and started to redo it, reducing parts and adding a base to the model and ended up with 841 parts and a model I was pretty pleased with. Still €149 is something to think about (esp. in December) - no order for me.

Finally on Jan. 18th I decided I *want* that model. NOW! Too bad Lego discontinued the service on the 16th. What a let down I can tell you. To cut that part short - I ordered all the parts through Pick-A-Brick (€50 less, btw) and now it waits to be assembled.

Erm - what was I about to write about again?

Oh, yes. The model went on http://lego.cuusoo.com/ (go, sign up there ... and vote for it) - although I think 10k backers might be a bit ambitious ...
Anyway, from there I was contacted by a nice fellow who asked if he could do renderings of the model (as the screengrabs from DigitalDesigner are not really making anyone "wow").

So here they are:

 


A shot not unlike Shulman's foto (click image for larger version)


Front shot (click image for larger version)


Overview (click image ... you know)

Images rendered by Phillipe P. (see his other renderings on Flicker or at http://www.argobrickmodels.com/)

I'll post an image of the finished "real" model ... when it's done ...

 

nGFX

An interview with Jean-Philippe

We recently discovered far and away the best debug / profile tool for Flash devs, "TheMiner". It's just a pity we found it so late into Outposts development, but it still helped us remove various mouse listeners that I'd missed ( I'm really badly anal about killing those, and I was shocked how many I'd actually missed ). It's now an essential part of our toolkit, and I was lucky enough to ask the author, Jean-Philippe Auclair, some questions about it.
 

Hi Jean-Philippe, can you give us a quick run down on your history with Flash.

I started coding as3 about 4 years ago. Before that I was a C++ Software Engineer on a Nintendo DS 2D/3D game engine.
When I think about this, it seams like it all started last week. 
During the last 4 years, Flash changed so much that it's really hard to follow the pace, even for a guy who follow a LOT of RSS feed and twitter.

So I started Flash 4 years ago as an AI developper, leading a game project at Frima Studio in partnership with a local university.
Then I became Lead Software Architect on Frima studio MMO game engine, doing supervision of npth frontend and backend architecture.
During this time I also started a technical blog about Flash for hardcore developer. 
By always trying to push the bundaries of flash, I found out a lot of trick to optimize flash content and get the most out of it.
Because of this, I have been selected to participate to molehill pre-release program very early.
At this point, frima studio decided to invest a lot in this new promizing technologie and I have been working on Molehill for almost 18 months now.
We were choosen and featured by Adobe at Max 2010 with ZombieTycoon in flash Molehill, and MAX 2011 with Neema Project. 
Using this new knowlegde, I gived multiple session for frima about Flash3D at Flash Gamming summit 2010, MAX 11, GDC Online 2011 and Dig 2011.


I think every game dev plans to do something like this, but no one ever gets round to it. How did you find the motivation to actually pursue it ?

Well.. It all started with a blog article I made: http://jpauclair.net/mm-cfg-secrets/
In this post, I'm talking about a lot of undocumented features of flash using the mm.cfg file.
One of the feature is "PreloadSWF". A nice way to launch a flash application before the main SWF is being executed.
So I started exploring this, and after a few articles, it became clear that "something" could be done with this.
I opened a google code repository, and it became FlashPreloadProfiler. A tool that can be use to track some data exposed by flash.
After a months of part-time developement, there was already tons of cool features, and special algorithm to get the most of the exposed protocols, and even more! 

Being able to dig deep inside flash, and make it easy for people to use it with this software and my blog was what kept me going.

Recently, I decided to start making something more serious out of this, without changing the way I feel about it. 
This is when FlashPreloadProfiler died, and TheMiner was born. A complete solution with a lot of features added, with proper website, bugbase, forums, etc.


There are lots of cool things in there, was there anything which you thought "This will never work" and then surprised yourself ?
 
Many of the features are not "out of the box". I had to spend a LOT of time to finaly come up with solutions.
Getting the Stack of some listeners. Merging the instanciation of object with function call traces. Having urls of some loaders. etc. 

Any major technical hurdles you found, and how did you get around them ?

It's hard for me to say "it can't work"... there is always a way.. 
While doing this profiler, some of the things I tried never got an answer.

So even today, it's really hard to say if I should continue to look for something, or I should find something else to look at!
 

What future plans have you got for TheMiner ( That you can tell us about ) ?

Big plans!

I keep a list of what will be added next, what features should be re-worked, etc.
The problem is, each time I check one of the Item of that list, 2 or 3 items have been added to it, so the list is expanding!

We also have a bugbase to support people working with it. 

And finaly, TheMiner will soon have a new brother. But I won't say to much about this for now!
 

What's the response been to it so far ?

It just started, but it goes better that I was expecting it.

I was thinking "something like this take time to get known". But because FlashPreloadProfiler was there for some time now, and hardcore developer generally hang around my blog, the wave was big enought to get known pretty fast.
The free non-commercial version has already been downloaded multiple hundred times.
And since there was already thousands of developpers using FlashPreloadProfiler, the Pro version of TheMiner became a necessity for a lot of people using it for commercial project. So it's going pretty well also.

The community also responded very well by doing translation in multiple languages.
Right now, TheMiner is available in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Russian, Hindi, Chinese (traditional and simplified) and Turc

FlashPreloadProfiler has been a great adventure over the last two years.

TheMiner is just the beginning of something even greater.

I'd really like to thanks everybody that followed me during this time, and those who helped make what it became. Thank you.

www.sociodox.com/theminer

@jpauclair

I am now an official Miner

And I'd really like to thank Jean-Philippe for his time, and I honestly can't recommend theMiner enough, it's one of the few tools we can recommend without a moments hesitation. The free version isn't crippled in anyway, you've literally got nothing to lose by trying it.

Squize.

Happy New Year

I don't think I have to say much after that title.

[Add one very gruesome image of the number 2012 written in fireworks]

No list of good intents, just the wish to find more time to write about game coding (and of course writing on games).

 

So have a good one (and me being too buzzed to sleep, I do some coding)

 

nGFX

2011 in words and pictures

Time for our annual review of the things we did, the things we'd say we'd do and didn't and other post filler.

Where should we start ?

Jan:

4 years old, and what a way to start the year, with a big old Facebook RPG no less.

Knight's Quest launched, although I think we worked on it for another couple of months. We made it all procedural thinking how clever we where that it would reduce maintenance costs, and on the first day of release someone reported a bug on level 71. In all the testing we'd never got that far, he must have played for hours and hours straight. Dear sweet mental players.

We also did an interview with our mate Ryan about his book "Getting your Flash game sponsored" which was fun, and we were asked to judge a comp for the first time. Funnily enough, the last time too. Odd that.

Feb:

This was a dev type month on the blog, with posts about DN8's development and some background on how we made the levels in Knight's Quest.

Destroy More Cars also launched. What's that ? Yeah, only 10 million plays last time I looked, sorry ? Yes you're right I'd forgotten the first one is in Spil's all time top 10 with 14 million + plays. I'm only giving it large like that as I find it funny that our biggest hits in terms of plays are games I really can't stand. The 2nd one was better in lots of ways, but not a game I'd ever play.

March:

The whole month just going on and on about DN8. Which brings us to...

April:

DN8 launched, did really well critically at newgrounds ( Who were our sexy sponsor ), so-so everywhere else ( It got some nice reviews though, this one has a lovely screen shot, plus it came 2nd in the bytejacker game of the week, or was it day ? Anyway 2nd out of 3 counts as a win in some way ).

I played it the other day, and it's still quite nice. Pleased with that one.

May:

Quiet month really, some of our friends in China tried hacking the blog ( Why for fucks sake ? We don't even read the crap we post on here, whose going to read your l33t hacx0r message ? ), pimped our friend Matthew's new game, posted some links and wrote about a failed prototype.

June:

Olli posted up a couple of prototype games, one which is still sitting on his HD, the other out and about and coming further down this list.

The rest of the month was talk about the development of Outpost. What an insanely long development time that game had, but there were reasons why.

July:

I wrote a pissy little rant, which made me feel better if nothing else.

Olli wrote some notes about how Nuts&Bolts worked, and also pumped out a teaser for it.

We finished the month with the long overdue DN8 postmortem.

Aug:

A painfully quiet month. I was working on two client projects and Outpost and realised I was going to run out of money before any were done. That meant knocking out a quick game, which turned out to be Orbz.

Quite a fun little game, very throw away. The plan backfired, we couldn't give it away for sponsorship. In the end I decided to use it as our Facebook test game. Long story short, it is on FB, but it uses the AS3 FB toolkit, which for unknown reasons uses a pop-up for the confirmation page ( You know the one where you agree to let some strange app at all your private info forever ? ). The thing with pop-ups is that pretty much everyone blocks them. I lost all interest in what wasn't really an interesting project to begin with, so it's on FB just never been pimped. I will go back to it one day when I do another Facebook project, but it's a hellish horrible mess ( The API, not the game ).

Sept:

Virtually nothing really, we were both at a low ebb doing things we didn't really want to do to earn the cash we needed to do the things we wanted to.

Oct:

Slightly better month, with the main thing being the launch of...

Nuts&Bolts went live, and what a great little puzzler that was.

I also had a quick play with stage3D, nothing too special, but if you ever played with Papervision it was a world apart.

Nov:

The blog had a long overdue shake up with Olli performing the massive / painful / massive task of moving the blog over to new software. We were getting to the point with the old software that just posting to the blog was a huge chore, and it just killed our post rate as you don't need to be battling software just to post some words.

One of the projects I worked on in the Summer went live, Beyblades. I didn't have a great deal to do with it, didn't touch the gameplay, and that was kinda nice. The other game I worked on was a manga style interactive comic. I really don't even know if it's live, as a project I take zero pride in it. Maybe I'll post up how I did the xml structure as that may be quite handy, but a pure sell my soul for money project. Awful.

Also I posted a quick tutorial about object pooling. I don't think code / tutorial posts go down well on here, you kids just seem to like reading us cussing and stuff. You cunts.

Dec:

This year has flown hasn't it.

Olli posted some neat theory about random levels and a grab from his current game.

We bigged up Home Sheep Home 2, we like to help the little struggling indie games, hopefully we helped it's traffic a little ( Re-read the word "Little" again. About 400 people have started playing it during that time, it's both insane and well deserved how big a hit it is ).

I posted up the now annual drinking binge known as the GYW Christmas party, and did a quick test with Unity's Flash exporter.

Oh, and a little game Lux and I were working on went live. Don't know if I've mentioned it ?

Outpost went live yesterday, and so far has had a fantastic response from the beautiful NG community, which fills my hart with happy.

And that was 2011. Not as productive as we would have liked, but we can always say that ( And always seem to ). Outpost is the very best thing I've ever done and that's not a bad thing to be able to say.

As always we'd like to thank you dear reader, if it wasn't for you we'd still be writing this stuff, but quite possible in shit on a toilet wall. You're our outlet and our muse, and for that I've got to thank you.

See you in the new year, hope you have a great one,

Squize.

Merry Christmas kids

On behalf of us both we wish you a very Merry Christmas. Make the most of it, 'cause I had a terrible dream about you involving a white van. He's not stopping. Then I see your eyes just staring out into the forever...

Anyway, have a good one, and it was only a dream, possibly nothing to worry about.

x

GYW Christmas party '11

This is becoming a blog tradition, and I think it will stay until my kidneys finally give up. Looking at that lot, I think it'll just take a glass of water.

Never again and all that.

Squize.

Happy Halloween

Have a scary one kids, and to get you in the mood, imagine how much you'd pap your pants in this situation.

 

 

Squize.