Global Game Jam 2014 – Perth Site Summary

So here's a quick rundown of the Perth site of Global Game Jam 2014. The point of this list is to give a quick summary for each and every game. I'm by no means fair and balanced, I mean a) there's my brother, friends, employees, long term compatriots and my significant other included amongst the jammers b) I sponsored, helped organise and participated in the jam and c) I live in Perth so I know everyone else. But hey, publishing on own blog and all that, you've been warned. For those that don't know, we had 48 hours from Friday night to create a game on the theme "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are". There's plenty of more games and sites to check out at http://globalgamejam.org/. The site will still be a little slow for now. A big thanks to Lets Make Games for organising the jam, it was fun as always and we were highly caffeinated. And if you just want to explore the Perth jam site games yourself, click here.

99 Problems (and blocks are all of them)

Simple well executed puzzle game, more of a proof of concept than something with incredibly challenging puzzles but it's orange skinning levels and simple humour are entertaining for the five minute play time. Worth a look at least once.

Alpha

Possibly known as Assemble, basic god game where you play a leader of people who you then teach to ransack the land, decimate the wild animals and kill the opposing team over the network. Simple, straightforward and has the scariest bison I have seen in a god game.

Carry the Fire

This game isn't uploaded yet, but fantastic looking art direction and simple game design for a platformer. Rather quite stunning, once the team gets it online definitely give this a look. Basically each button on the controller is mapped to your torch, enemies and platforms are visible when you have the right colors, run the map and light the torches! Edit: Hayden's put the game online, grab your controller and play it here!

Dandelion

This was pitched as a hunt for a serial killer on a train from the perspective of an older man and a young child. The art direction is fun to check out, think The Last Express crossed with PaRappa the Rapper however as this is Game Jam the plot isn't fully implemented, there's some text bugs (your fellow passengers love of tennis is amusing) and you can't get your teeth sunk into the mystery. But well worth giving a look, especially as you can play it in browser.

Cluster

Simple twin-stick shooter for four local players, when you kill an enemy they leave an explosion the color of your team, any player who runs through that cloud instantly becomes a member of your team for a time span and their success becomes your points. Not fully implemented but a fun concept and pretty mental to play as is.

The Floor is now Lava

Simple game, boulder dash crossed with fantasy where you have to flick between three different characters / worlds each with different skills to work together to get to the exit. The first few levels had me puzzled and I could definitely play some more of this!

Shootgunner

Quick, rough and dirty for the second year in a row, Team Bear Storm yet again deliver a game on theme about as subtle as a pan-galactic gargle blaster (a brick wrapped in a slice of lemon). But damn... that minigun.

Mirage

Twine text-adventure game where you're lost in the desert and can't find your way out. Surprisingly bleak writing but I am assured there is a narrative high point and not just death at every turn. I have yet to finish the game without dying.

Mad-House

You're locked in the asylum, but your ability to possess rats, cats and birds might be your best hope of making it out of your padded cell. Really nice environments and it's amazing they pushed this Oculus Rift game out in the 48 hours.

Imminent Illusion

First time pair of game jammers knocked out a simple shooty shooty bang bang game with robots and zombies. Shoot more robots and zombies to stay alive longer, get touched by them to lose time.

Forest

Second in my "I really want to play this but can't" category (due to mac build) but the demonstration was cool. Really bleak and whitewashed alien environment where you can only see just beyond your viewing frustum. However you can "throw" a viewing bubble to see more of the world in front of you and "create" a bubble to remember what was there when you've left. No real gameplay but it looked cool.

Dwarf Squad

Four dwarfs, one controller. The idea is that four people can each move up, down, left and right on a corner of the controller. Make your way to the exit and then the second level starts throwing really confusing tricks at you where you absolutely need to work with your fellow players. I wonder where they found their four handed tester to defeat this game. And you can play in browser.

Clarity

Looks absolutely great, this game deals with the designer's views on antidepressants with the player's world slowly becoming washed out and worrying with red stress. Excellent art and implementation on this project, it just appears that the team didn't manage to get much gameplay in there but well worth a walk around.

Lepus

Two players in an asynchronous game where one player must hide among a bunch of computer controlled characters while an opponent tries to catch him. But each player has a slightly different viewpoint, grab a friend and give it a try!

Lysandra

Lysandra is a girl trying to explore the mysterious tomb she has found herself in, with some handy possession skills and some perspective swapping to solve puzzles she just might be able to make it out alive. A large amount of gameplay here and even a closing cinematic it's rather impressive what the team put together. I just wish I could figure out how to change the viewing angle.

Derp Dispatcher Saga

Derp your way across the landscape, jumping on the natives heads, smashing them with boxes and generally navigating the land. This was meant to be a game where you end up seeing the consequences of disposing of the native enemies but the team instead has sworn to never create a physics based 2d platformer again. I wish them the best of luck.

Mirror Fall

Help the sugary T-Rex collect enough candy to save his kind on a weird mirror landscape. Basically keep the three bars full by collecting the right type of candy shown below, but it's mirrored so it isn't as easy as it makes out. And runs in browser!

Mood Jumper

Another HTML5 game but this time keep platforming to keep happy even as bad news comes and finds your unfortunate hide. A little buggy but some charming touches.

Animal Disco

First time group of randoms who came together and pushed out their first Game Jam game. Find the one person at the disco who can stand your presence and swap out body parts from the other party goers so you might have a chance with them. A tad buggy but that's to be expected.

3d Anaglyph Game

Yes it runs in browser, yes the solo team member is wearing shades in his photo, no you should not play this game as he is now blind from playing the game. Do not ask how he wrote this article you are currently reading.

TL;DR

Play 99 Problems (and blocks are all of them), Carry the Fire, The Floor is now Lava, Dandelion, Shootgunner, Forest and Dwarf Squad.

Coders drinking Coffee with Cause

It’s quite simple, Five Senses has a special batch of backroom beans which will be turned into coffee by the efforts of Ron and the cohort at Maven Espresso at $2 a cup or $4 a filter.  The least we can do is support Coffee with Cause‘s noble endeavor especially as proceeds go towards girls education in India.

So it’s simple, all welcome, we’ll be meeting in the Raine Square food court at Midday on Saturday the 30th of March.  If you need to figure out where Raine Square is, check out this link.  Then we drink coffee, if we decide to do a coffee crawl both SRO and Mo Espresso will be on the hit list.  But hey, @sutto and @sonictail are playing things by ear.

And we accept no responsibility for light feet, heart palpitations or the belief that you can code the next facebook, see you there ^_^

 

The new Australian GD Industry

It’s 2012, the Australian games industry has become mostly indie with a few notable exceptions and is divided into two disparate yet equally important groups, the young upstarts who are trying to make a living building video games and the old hands who have seen the cycle and just want everyone else to disappear and leave them to it.

At least that’s how it appears to be from the perspective of the younger generation.

This is a unfair viewpoint, but not without some element of truth. Australia’s industry was built up on middle of the road contract work for international companies, but the industry as a whole could not pivot fast enough when both the Australian dollar went up and the middle market just upped and died (again there are exceptions). So we’re left with a large amount of small startups with varying degrees of success and the previous generation of game developers just shrugging their shoulders and going “whelp, we’re sorry”. For the younger generation who have had dreams of joining a studio and being paid to work on games once they have finished their study, this is a bit crap and as such their feelings of being screwed over by those that came before is kind of warranted.

But on the flip side, there are developers out there starting companies and getting people paid to do work. Joe at Fiasco Studios and Morgan at Defiant Interactive are two excellent examples of the previous generation going “lets do it right” and building companies in the new industry. Morgan especially should be pointed out with his hiring policies working on giving students just what they need, a job with experienced people.

But in “Wait Awhile” these opportunities do not exist, at least not yet. Through some new ideas especially Spacecubed (a co-working environment that has started up) the games industry has started to have a ‘in’ to other businesses and a completely different type of person. And Lets Make Games has been an excellent industry body giving us what we need at this exact moment with very meager resources, they’re fighting the good fight and allowing the rest of us to get on with what we want to do, make games.

But how can we, the younger generation work towards building the jobs we want? here’s a few ideas. And note, the following does not have to be practiced by everyone;

  1. Wheaton’s Law with amendment – Don’t be a Dick and make sure you comment on a critical level.

    People should not be dicks, it’s a simple rule that in Perth goes double (cause we’re so damn small). However a new problem has arisen from this statement, apparently not being a dick means if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say it at all. This isn’t a problem directly endemic of WA, but we can fix it. It’s quite simple, if someone asks for comment, give it to them honestly in the form of critical comment. However the person asking for comment should take the comment with dignity, regardless of result (and this applies to other people who overhear said comment).

    Even if someone says “it sucks” the next thing out of your mouth should be “sure, but tell us why it sucks”. We all want to see a better quality of game development, so we need critical comment to improve.

    Plus if someone asks for assistance, answer in english, not in a link to “Let me google that for you”. That’s just insulting.

  2. Work outside the games industry.
    This can be summarized as “network like crazy” (and may your liver hold out long enough). There is plenty of work for other people, sure it may not be directly games but it pays. And we need money. Do not look down on doing time in PHP or designing that umpteenth business card website. But do look for opportunities with people you want to work for! Look for people outside of your direct circle of influence and make opportunity, who knows where it will lead. Games are not made in a vacuum and game developers are very talented (esp in sweat equity). The first Startup Weekend held in Perth gathered the most teams to launch a product and have customers by the end of the first weekend. And the teams that came first and second? Half the team of both were Game Developers! And while the connections made have yet to bear fruit, they will in the future.

    My point is, stop putting up walls around yourself claiming to just want to put code on screen towards a game. You’ll miss opportunities which might be beneficial.

  3. Get some space
    I keep hearing about how people want space, but we (collectively) have no money. You never get something for nothing. So how do we solve this?

    What I think is that we just need to rip the bandaid off. Space needs to be paid for, but not in the traditional sense. A small space for a set number of months, say three months, at the end of it we’ll know if we can continue. But that small commitment would be the best way of testing the waters and limiting risk to the point that the game dev community can handle.

  4. Share some experience
    The WA game dev scene is built of cliques. This needs to stop, it’s hurting us in the long term. So to start with, next game jam we should mix it up, work with people we don’t know.

    And for something more radical, we should set up a volunteer partnering scheme.

    The idea is simple, teams make space for new people to join the team once a year and then have a idea of who they’re looking for. These spaces are then promoted to the community, people join with the understanding that the position will last for a minimum of three months. The idea is that it works both ways, experienced teams pull on students and student teams pull on experienced people.

    This will go towards providing the work experience and experience sharing we so desperately need and encourage teams to make room for students. Plus will have the effect of networking vertically across the game dev scene.

  5. Leave.
    Note, this isn’t for everyone and in theory people will come back with more experience in the future… right?

So there’s a few small ideas we can start to explore. Anyone interested?

p.s: I wrote the above article some number of months ago before media fund was announced, after seeing the recent reaction at the Melbourne forum I thought the opening bit was valid.  The later part is especially still valid, funding does change the situation, but we should still be working on other avenues!

Day 1 GDC 2012 – All the things!

GDC proper was about to start, i’ve been around san francisco seeing the sites, eating burgers, visiting alcatraz and prepping my liver with various people and / or scholars. So I’m prepped, ready and raring to go right? Let me put it this way, when faced with too much choice, indecision takes over and well, I had a few to make today.

For those that don’t know, Monday and Tuesday at GDC are occupied with Tutorials and Summits, focused sets of material that last the entire day on particular topics, from Google developer days, Social Media and AI summits to tutorials on game design, mathematics and scrum training. So I had a choice, business and leadership training, game design workshop or smart phones summit. As i’m doing the producer boot camp tomorrow I decided I would be better off attending the smart phone summit and see if I could learn something new, I was slightly afraid it would be very hands on with current technology which wouldn’t be immidiately beneficial to myself, but sometimes you just need to take a leap.

For the record, I’m going to try and do sketches of as many of the panellists as I can through the week, my art skill’s pretty poor but we’ll see where it goes ^_^; My apologies in advance if you’re the person I’m talking about and it looks nothing like you, this is pretty likely.

Jamil Moledina

So the first talk of the day was “Guidelines for Building Cross-Platform Games” with Linda Tong (Tapjoy), Martin Chamrad (Craneballs Studios LLC), Kyu Lee (Gamevil USA), Jamil Moledina (Funzio), Perry Tam (StormB) and Mike DeLaet (GLU). So between them they have created one of the largest pile of multiplatform games on mobile platforms around including Modern Warfare, Zenoia, Overkill, Crime City (and if you don’t know GLU you haven’t been near a mobile phone store in the last ten years) and many more.

Their talk was focused on a much higher picture than I expected, discussing multiplatform development from a business perspective, when and where they would choose to utilize the other platforms. Of no surprise, no-one was currently working on Windows Mobile 7 due to several reasons, primary of which was the current install base, tho everyone expects that to change. Mike DeLaet had nothing but good things to say about Android as a platform, but always have a eye on what’s coming out in the future so they can start to filter out older devices now and make sure their development is keeping up with the market at the correct pace. Gamevil had to make a similar choice with the iphone 3G in order to keep with the curve, it was apparently a difficult choice. Currently no-one uses HTML5 due to performance and distribution, but they expect it to change. Mike DeLaet also said that he currently expects WinPhone7 to grow in 6-18 months and will be in a three horse race by 2014. Of final note, people are looking for true cross-platform play, as in between console, portable, mobile and more and that people should really make this happen. On the whole, not too bad but it really was from the perspective of having a highly successful business, not of too much worth.

RJ Micael

Second was “Designing the Five Second Game” with RJ Mical who (sadly) I was not aware had made video games at Williams Electronics, involved with inventing the Amiga, Atari Lynx and the 3DO and more recently was a senior manager at Sony for the Playstation. So pretty much a very amazing (read:fucking awesome) guy. The point of his talk was to present analysis he had done in order to create a game as a personal project, so he had looked at about 50 games (partial list is here) and found common criteria.

  1. Easy to Play, Mildly Challening & Fun
  2. Learn the rules in 5 sec
  3. Learn the interface in 5 sec
  4. Finish the level in 1-5 Minutes
  5. Anyone can pickup and play but challenging to become an expert
  6. no real time investment, can walk away mid level
  7. simple graphics and fun audio

RJ went on to display a game by Secret Exit that he felt had those items in common and went into statistical (basic) detail on what percentage of games used those points and what other points were also common, but not between all the titles. But at the end of the day, less is more, simple ideas and art trump expressively detailed worlds and you have to have the decent sound (not soundtrack) as “all the little beeps and boops” will make all the difference.

“Thing I remembers when I went back to programming OpenGL is how much I hate OpenGL!”

Graeme Devine of GRL Games

Next up we had “Designing a Game your teenage daughter will actually play” with Father and Daughter pair Graeme and Rocque Devine from GRL Games (Giant Robot Lizard apparently ;) and the basic idea was Graeme presenting the games he had published by his own business in the last year (well, just six out of eight) and his daughter would comment on them from her perspective. The session was pretty interesting (and lets be honest, will be invalid shortly unless you can repeat the process with your own procured teenager) but the main issues that were highlighted by her preferences were a desire to be lead in the correct direction (was a fan of hidden mystery games), sharp graphics, a desire for customisation (in both music and graphics) and a request to avoid spamming facebook as it isn’t the done thing.

Rocque, the (dare I say it) 'smarter' half of the panel.

What was interesting is that Graeme went onto how he works with his daughter designing a game she wants to play. Apparently the typical prototyping cycle involving regular iteration she wasn’t interested in, he had to come back every fourth or fifth time with a slew of changes as in Rocque’s words “she trusts him to make the right decicions”. That being said getting the game ideas out of her head is a very painful and drawn out experience. But the game he has designed with her “Dance City” is a combination of Space Channel 5, Temple Run and LMFAO and will be interesting to see finished.

“Guidelines for successful mobile apps for children” with Carla Fisher was next in line (@nocrusts). This was a gentle introduction to design considerations for ipad and tablet based materials for young children and justification for said choices. The most depressing fact that I walked away with was that only 1% of children will play an app or a game more than once. But many considerations include;

Carla Fisher of No Crusts

  1. Keep buttons you don’t want kids accidentally using high up out of reach.
  2. Any buttons you want the kids to use, make sure the “hit zone” includes space lower than the target, as kids aim low.
  3. Drag and Drop is hard!
  4. Multi-touch, swiping and scrolling are all learned behaviours.
  5. make sure that you interact on touch-down, something needs to happen.

She also went into considerations concerning text & speech, syncing text highlights to audio helps reading comprehension and support text with audio cues wherever possible. Carla then went further into changing development and narritive guidelines for 2 – 12 and how the cognitive processes change over that period and how we can use scaffolding to support our games. So overall a very imformative panel to someone who has no idea about that field.

Finally for the day we had “Life in the Funds Lane” with Brian Robbins from Riptide Games. The purpose of this talk was to discuss a variety of funds that developers can gain access to with some work, and how they would do that. The basic fact is that most of the funding companies he was speaking about want eyeballs / network and reach out of their funding, therefore their priority was marketing and any money allocated would usually be used for marketing budget, quite sobering really.

Brian Robbins

The first thing you need to gain said funding is a track record, but seeing as those are in short supply at the moment what you’re usually requiring is a nearly completed game only really seeking money for marketing and porting between systems. Brian then went into what he called “5 Minute MBA” to talk about some realities involving costs of running a studio, running costs, cash flow and other bits and pieces. But the main point was “be careful, think about literal contracting costs, you can make this work and good luck”. I only wish I had seen this six months ago instead of having to learn it myself on the go (school of hard knocks and common sense >.< ).

So that was pretty much the day, after which I found the scholars, doped a pile of mates into the metagame (to get free cards) and went and drunk a couple of beers, not too shabby. Tomorrow is Producer Boot Camp, so wish me luck!

The story so far

I’m sitting down on a bed with July friends in our hotel room in San Francisco as I type this and feeling quite reminiscent. You see the last time I did this was four years ago, having been awarded a gdc scholarship I had flown by myself across the world and has in a small hotel room on the edge of the mission district wondering what would be going on. I was alone and had not met anyone else yet (the scholars program soon fixed that). Now four years later I am back at GDC and feeling that I should talk about what’s happened in the past four years.

There is a reason for this. A quick scan of the previous scholars shows that they are a collection of the best and brightest. Usually these people go onto work for amazing companies, Microsoft, bungie, insomniac and cap on to just name a few. Or are fairly successful in a academia. Now not all scholars do that, success is contextual after all, but I feel I should be explaining what I have been up to in the intervening years.

The big thing you need to realise is that Australia’s game industry has traditionally taken care of shovel-ware, third party contract work (which has now changed) and there was especially next to no ‘industry’ in Perth.  Now for me to get more ‘traditional’ employment I would have to be working elsewhere, in another state, but I’ll go into that later.

In 2008 I was employed by ECU in the school of computer and security science as a IT guy. If you have ever worked IT you will know that many of the jobs are boring and stressful. My duration with the team there was working in IT heaven. Almost any resources and time we needed to stay on the cutting edge where possible. Everyone worked together. There was no shirking of work, no bullshit politics, just a bunch of talented peoPle working together. This was put to an end by operational excellence (when you hear the words “operational excellence” and “Deloitte” well, run) and my contract was let go as it was too difficult to place me.

This led to me starting my own business, developers at large, and working on it full time. The business plan is simple, gain contracts for common work in Perth and try to earn and find jobs in game development on a contract basis and use profit money towards developing our own projects. Not a bad idea, but in the intervening time the industry has changed (lot less people want websites) and people in Perth are just starting to think about game development and how it can assist their business, but more on that later.

I got married in July 2010 at a small ceremony at the church Leah’s parents had helped build and develop over the years. There was a whack of organising that I do not remember much about, but apparently Between both families and me we sorted it. Leah keeps saying she didn’t help as she was on site but I’m not ago sure about that. But the wedding was a success, cheap and memorable. Special shoutout goes to the photographers here, between Dick and Eugene we were covered :) Plus of course Leah! (Technically I’m now Hayward-Crichton, but can get away with calling myself Jon Crichton ^_^).  This is the reason why I stayed in Perth, you see, Leah is a geologist who works for a very respected multinational and Western Australia is where all the work is.  I could not in good faith go ahead and move her elsewhere just for my own career, she has a awesome one and earns far, far, far more in a year than I ever would ;>.>  And not to mention that I’m versatile, I can swing with a lot of things.

During this time I employed an couple of contractors to do web work. One day after taking one of the guys (Matt) out to see a client in rural WA we ended up in an accident. Bye was in a rough state, I broke an arm rather impressively (radial fracture above the elbow) and did several ribs. As a result I missed out on my honeymoon and do not remember November of 2010 at all (drugs were good drugs). It took several more months before I could get back to work, but the web industry in Perth has started to change, and the year was slow.

Midyear a job landed near my lap, one that I am rather happy with.  The local science museum were developing an exhibition based around firefighters, helicopters, search and rescue etc.  They wanted many interactive digital exhibitions.  A good friend has worked as their games programmer for many years and he had larger more interesting project to fry, so we were asked to come on board and build the games.  Four games (and one kiosk) in a three month period, collaborating closely with the museum on many levels.  We got the job done just in time in the end, there was some time blowout and I could write a very large paper on problems with the project (or just look in a mirror for the biggest time cause) but the experience with Scitech, Wez, John and Myself was invaluable and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So for the TL:DR;

  1. Went to GDC2008 as a IGDA Scholar.
  2. Worked IT for a couple of years.
  3. Got Married, stayed in Perth for love, Got into an accident.
  4. Working as a manager on small web projects.
  5. Did awesome project for local science museum.
  6. At GDC again on my own dollar (and important business dinosaur’s!).

So that’s the story, 2010 was a learning experience, 2011 I decided to make sure I would do whatever possible to do other work and learn a whole bunch more.  This year I’m focusing more on polishing what I do know and trying to bring various projects to the fore.  So i’m busy (when aint i?)

But the biggest point of this is success.  There are many endpoints for success like, career milestones, employment, financial, personal etc.  But the main point to take home is that success is contextual to a individual’s standpoint.  I decided that instead of finding employment and learning the ins and outs of the games industry from the inside, I would take the school of hard knocks method and find my own way, making mistakes hard and fast and continuing to develop wherever possible.  It’s worked fairly well so far with Game Pride continuing to develop and evolve as a team, DATL going well and always open for opportunities.

But with that being said, I’m going to try and put myself out there and see if anyone’s interested, who knows what opportunities might fall my way, and I plan to make a couple myself :)

Learning from my mistakes L2: Get over it! “it” being your regrets.

When I was in high school I loved computers, I built my own Pentium 133mHz processor computer from scrap parts so I could tool around in Klik and Play, watch Initial D write school reports (oddly enough never looked for porn on the internet while I was using it) and hell eventually built a box mod for it for under $20 calling it the shit box (it even got featured in AtomicMPC, I was such a tool).  My point being is that I loved my computer and what’s more, I loved making video games.  I built a couple in basic following old computer books, built pokemon clones in Klik and Play and this continued through to my high school classes where I would teach myself pascal faster than the rest of the class to be able to tool around with video game logic.  Man I loved programming back then, I could run rings around all the other students, hell one of the tasks was to use a turtle drawing program to make a simple house or rocket, I made a full isometric model of a space ship I designed in technical drawing, but I digress.  Hell I dilligently studied physics as I thought it would help me get into games programming.  My plan was simple and relied on speed.

  • Complete CompSci degree with units to help focus on games programming in three years.
  • Goto England.
  • Work for Rare.

Yes I was a naive moron (hell I helped found a lanning group >.<).  But then something happened.  I graduated and went to university and suddenly I wasn’t the best of my peers.  It actually took me three years to realise that University wasn’t about slacking and that I should pass some fucking units.  I don’t know why but I seemed to wake up from some terrible fugue and realise that uni wasn’t going anywhere, I had a whole pile of units completed, but still had a couple of first year units done.  And what skills did I have?  I sure as hell couldn’t program like some kind of speedy animal, fuck me, in a race to write hello world in JS I would probably come last.

I think what woke me up was the start of a Computer Science and Games Programming double degree, I shucked all my old failed units and suddenly had excellent standing, a plan and a focus I liked.  Skipping ahead some units in order to fit the timeframe I would complete uni in less than two years.  But then my old friend popped up, programming.

I kind of blame the uni for this, my starter language was Ada, I never did Java and C++ and I only connected SO much, as in I could read basic files, follow a path but couldn’t get my head around OO (three times I did that unit >.<) so when games programming came around I was in a whole world of hurt.  All I really needed was a better progression into languages, but it didn’t happen and I failed, failed and failed again.  Somewhere along the way I started to focus on the other stuff (and made a whole pile of other mistakes along the way, but that’s a story for another time) and gradually moved away from programming, becoming the guy you went to for all the other shit, the ideas, direction, random filler crap, who knew a bit of everything and could clean up after you.

I became a jack of all trades, and it wasn’t until later when I met a lead from a startup beginning in perth that I connected that there was a role for me, Producer.  Yes, I had become the very thing I hated, management (and wow, what has come out of that is interesting, and painful).

This worked out in sorts, there’s a whole pile more things in there that I could tell you but I don’t want to go into everything right now.  But still to this day I wish I had paid attention more in programming class.  I want to be the guy who can sit down and ram out a idea, prototype something, look at a language or script and modify it easily.  I continue to try and learn languages and be able to write them fluently (I can read em tho) because I want to sit down, by myself and just rap something out to show to people.  I’ve learnt a variety of scripting languages, C#, JS, C++, Lua and I know many engines in which to use them.  But I envy guys like Farbs, Cactus and Messhof for just being able to bang out any old idea and see if it works.

So in short, my biggest regret is not paying enough attention in programming class.

Earlier this year I sunk into a bit of depression, regretting that I felt I had not accomplished much in the past year.  Oddly enough I needed that, I realised that looking back and regretting what you have done misses the point.  You need to learn from your mistakes (gah, corny much?) and figure out a path to success.

So what did I do? Organise to meet with the gang, get things moving, thinking about more ideas and hell, even this blogging is part of it.  I need to move forward with no regrets but also my regrets point out my mistakes even more, so they’re valuable as long as I don’t spend too much time on them.

And finally, I did something.  Greg said I should spend less time blogging and more time making games.  So that night I sat down and made a simple game in Construct (Klik and Play but not shit) about blogging.  It isn’t much, but it’s a step forward, the first of many I hope.

TheBloggingGame : The rules of this game is quite simple, click on the door to goto work, fridge to eat, computer to blog.  Click on yourself to refill the fridge (but that doesn’t quite work well).  There’s a win / lose condition and as you can see it’s very basic.  But it works.

And returning to where I started is something I now don’t regret ;)

ST~

Learning from my mistakes L1 – Don’t Panic

Hi, for those that don’t know, I’m Jon Hayward and I have made a LOT of mistakes. In fact the earliest blog post on this site (March of 2006) is not the earliest mistake I have made, no, that was far earlier. You see making mistakes is rather important, you learn from mistakes and if you’re smart, you don’t repeat the same mistake and you move on quite quickly. What my aim is to remark on some of the situations I have been in as a series of lessons, more for my own benefit but it may amuse you, the reader (yes you, that one guy, I know what you’re doing there).   And it’s also to assist with my own writing, I need to do it daily and often, but I promise no frequency. So with that said let us begin.

Lesson 1: Don’t Panic

Several years ago I met a guy on a forum who wanted to run a lan group south of the river here in Perth, he was pretty awesome, I started talking to him when I was in year 11 and in year 12 (2000) we started to run the event called Redflag Lanfest.  Now those were amusing years and I learnt a lot, but not as much as our very first lan.  Gareth, Fadi and I had spent quite some time colllecting the equipment, sorting out the hire of venue, tables, power and more and finally after a evening of sorting everything out we were about a hour until we were to open the doors Customized Inflatables.  Then my parents rocked up…

Now keep in mind that I was still in High School (and may be a unreliable narrator) but I was running around like a idiot from task to task, barely taking a breath.  Everything had to be done then and there and right that moment and right in the middle of it all my parents rock up to see how i’m going.  And suddenly I drop my brick of a mobile phone and kick it across the floor, it spins several times, hits a couple of trestle legs in the admin area and comes to a halt.  I pull myself back up and my father pointed out to me that I shouldn’t be rushing, what needs to be done will be done in due time and running around like a maniac doesn’t change that.

I now look back at that memory and identify it as having significance, it was when I learned the appropriate time to panic.  And you want to know the big secret about that?  I have not found a moment when panicking helped.  What happens will happen and as long as you do everything within your power to make ‘it’ happen everything will be ok (learning to let things go will be covered in a future post).  Since that moment I have found my capacity to handle multiple concurrent tasks has increased, I can’t do anymore than one task at a time but I can handle tasks from several projects and keep em in my head, or better yet in project tracking software.  Keeping a cool level head is important in everything you do.

How does this all relate back to Games Development?  It’s more of a life lesson but one that does pertain to my projects quite well, plus I wanted to start with my first mistake in indie game development -_^

p.s: apologies to Douglas Adams

New Year Update – Yeah, that was a year…

I look at this site and I see updates from several years ago, one thing I have discovered is that you either have time to update the blog or time to do the work, not both and this site is proof of that. This year has seen John, Chris and Myself working away on various games in Flixel, a small flash based game API. We didn’t finish any but had some good time with Wez, Lisa and several other people here. One game we hope to release sometime in the near future.

Now we’re in the new year and it’s got me reflecting a bit on the nature of what I have done over the past few years, so i’m going to talk about it on this blog. We’ll see what happens ;)

#Freeplay10 Twitter Rundown

Well Freeplay 2010 just occured in Melbourne and it was really awesome, I have a lot of thoughts, a pile of re-affirmation about what i’m doing and some great skills to test out when I get back home.  But I spent a lot of time on twitter over the weekend, talked with loads of people so I decided that the best way to run through all the twitter accounts I found (or already had) over the weekend with my thoughts where I can apply them.  Sort of a report but in context of people.  This is by no means a complete list as I could keep pouring over the list for days, so I decided to stop here right now and get the first draft out.  However I would love to make this a even MORE complete report, considering there was 66 people listed in the programme booklet and I have NINE people listed here as guests (granted right now I’m not going looking very far, e.g. not beyond the #freeplay10 search) I have a little more work to do.

In short, please check this over and follow some of these people, if you want me to update / add / remove yourself off this list ping me @Sonictail or jon@game.pride.id.au.

Really Important People

Basically these are the people who made the event / parts of the event happen, check em out!

  • @free_play: The official FreePlay twitter account, important to note.
  • @paul_callaghan: Paul was one of the Co-Directors of FreePlay, please direct thanks there!
  • @peenydeeny: Eve was the other Co-Director, I had a nice chat with her both nights when she was wiped.  Seriously epic achievement here!
  • @IGDAMelbourne: The Independent Game Developers Association of Melbourne, awesome bunch of guys who organised drinks every night, check em out! They’re more active than ever (literally!)

Important People, but not for freeplay…

Here’s two accounts you should be following cause basically, it might help you out in the future!

  • @artsdigitlera: Fee Plumley from Australia Council, introduced everyone to the idea of how the Arts funding through the AC works. Check out http://www.artsdigitalera.com/ for more info.
  • @WorstMC: Mike Cowap is from Screen Australia, I didn’t realise that they were only 18 months old! He also gave info during the Government Secrets panel.  They’re open to ideas so check out Screen Australia’s website.

Guests

These are the guests I could find on twitter, this is by no means a complete or accurate list, but I did try to match people to what they did etc, please don’t hurt me ;>.>

  • @AdamATOMiC: Adam Saltsman gave the Keynote on Sunday at #FreePlay10 on Play & Games & Video Games & Us… I still need to finish digesting this talk before I speak on it.
  • @brandonnn: Brandon Boyer gave the Saturday keynote on All Play is Personal speaking about how he stopped making games and started writing about them and more importantly why. Also thank him for Offworld, even if you haven’t read it, it’s affected you in some way. No joke!
  • @Doolwind: Alistair Doulin is a Brisbane based developer who is listed as a speaker, but I cannot find what he spoke on! (please feel free to correct me) But in the meantime he has already put his thoughts on #FreePlay10 online, check http://bit.ly/indiecondition to read it!
  • @benbritten: Gave the talk on using Unity3d, which you can now check out on his website here.
  • @terrypaton1: Terry Paton was up during the “A Million Little Ideas” talk and had some excellent thoughts on the subject, also check his blog http://pixelpaton.com/.
  • @brawsome: Andrew Golding is responsible for Jolly Rover which won Best Game at the #FreePlay10 awards. Seriously, check out Jolly Rover now!
  • @KlickTock: Matthew Hall runs KlickTock which is responsible for Doodle Find on iPhone. He also was on the “One Man Band” panel talking about what he’s learnt as a solo developer.
  • @morganjaffit: Morgan Jaffit was on the “Play is Everywhere” panel, runs a startup in Brisbane called Defiant Development and seems to be really awesome. You can check his blog here. Also has worked for Irrational, Relic, Ubisoft and Pandemic. I hope I didn’t annoy him over twitter ;>.>
  • @lantree: Glenn Watson gave a talk on pipeline tools and development which I really enjoyed, I just wish he had more time. He’s a big beliver in sharing so check his blog here.
  • @dangolding: Dan was on the twisting space panel which I unfortunately missed (but many said was epic) check his website here.

Indie Devs

These people didn’t necessairly speak but have awesome games, do I need to say more on this?

And everyone else

These are the people I found on Twitter that commented through the weekend, I’ve posted what I could find with a couple of links (no time on google here folks) but if there’s no comment, why not drop me a line and let me know what’s what? (@sonictail). Additionally if you’re in this list and are a speaker or a dev, let me know and i’ll correct that.

  • @grassisleena: Leena seemed fairly active during #freeplay10 but she did a nice little piece beforehand on the Co-Director on #FreePlay10 and you can read it here.
  • @DYoshii: There is only one thing I can say about Brad… RUN FOR THE HILLS!
  • @Jickle: James O’Conner, Writes awesome articles for Hyper and is a all round awesome guy. I’m dissapointed that I missed catching him at #Freeplay10 but you can check his website here.
  • @GameTacoWall: People from Game Taco were tweeting all weekend, their podcast / website is located here.
  • @BRKeogh: Brendan Keogh has been writing reports on #FreePlay10 for Gamasutra, check out his report on Brendon Boyer’s keynote here: http://bit.ly/cUtuwn

And that’s all for now, i’ll post some thougts later, now I have to do some actual work (yuck)