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9:45 AM on 08.22.2010

it's been a while (art update)

Busy with work, life, and the silly ideas in my head, and what happens? I start to neglect this adorable, little blog. I'm here to repent. Starting with a quick art:



I've missed so many PS3 games during this hiatus that I don't where to begin. Even if I start playing 2 games a month, the sheer number of releases will just murder my game time like some, uh, game time murderer.

Help.   read


9:47 PM on 05.07.2010

you complete me (a game idea)

Last month's game design challenge from GameCareerGuide.com was all about the iPad, and they were asking for ideas that would make a great game for the device. I wasn't even planning to join the iPad hype-train, but while doodling about during my break -- a day before the deadline -- I just stumbled on an idea of square heads you can attach on 'empty' bodies. So for the entire 30-minute or so break, I just thought about how funny it is attaching and removing heads like Lego pieces, with the bodies struggling for freedom from the player's godly, sausage fingers.



Nothing concrete on the gameplay, admittedly, but maybe this could work on a Lemmings- or Lost Vikings-type of games, where you have to switch heads to complete a level. Or something.

Anyway, this rush-job piqued gamecareerguide's interest enough to include this in their Honorable Mentions list.

My pitch here.

Full list here.

They've posted another challenge this week -- hey, maybe YOU guys can post your ideas as well!   read


12:32 PM on 03.24.2010

when it rains... (art update)

I haven't had the courage to take another dive into the crazy-ass Philadelphia-ish world of Heavy Rain, mostly because I was barely impressed with how everything turned out in the end (especially with that guy), but partly because the character couldn't even be bothered to bring a fucking umbrella.



Story-wise, it's like Indigo Prophecy all over again: off to a great start, then things went horribly wrong and you know exactly when it went downhill. Much to my surprise (and disappointment), the things David Cage promised to avoid this time around (supernatural, etc) didn't matter anymore, as the story itself became the problem regardless of the premise.

But yeah, I liked the concept of the Origami Killer (but not the motive behind it), and the gameplay is a big improvement over Indigo (and could be a template for future adventure titles), I liked some scenes that didn't feel forced, and other moments that are just there and they're subtle and unsettling at the same time. There's just this nagging feeling that the writer just listed down independent scenes, cool on their own but distracting in the whole scheme of things.

I guess there's another time, Mr. Cage. Try adapting a regular bestseller first, if you don't mind. :-)   read


9:01 AM on 03.22.2010

Sony's gonna launch a console in our country -- for the first time

So yeah, a Philippine console launch on March 27... 2 months after I bought mine. Could've changed my mind if I knew back then that Sony will be launching it officially.

It's a big deal because:

1) We've never had any real console launch in the country. Nintendo doesn't seem to mind, and even though I've heard that the 360 is 'official' here, support/promotion is weak at best. I bet thousands will attend just to experience what it's like to have an official release, even if we're almost 4 years behind everyone else. At least we're not Brazil! ;-)

2) I've been using a Canadian account for my PSN (don't ask) all this time, and if the forum insider rumors are true, they'll also launch a local Playstation Network (or at least they should). Which means, I'll be "coming home" in a matter of days.

3) It's a vote of confidence: it's a given fact that many third world countries have a significant piracy problem, and while an official launch may not remotely slow it down, at least Sony now know how much gamers here are supporting the platform for years and they are willing to back us up.

4) There's also a rumored 3D gaming demo at the event. That's good enough for me. And I just bought an HDTV this month, so it's gonna be depressing as well.

5) Official support: Right now majority of malfunctioning consoles are being repaired by 3rd party shops, and even though they do a pretty decent job at fixing them, an official go-to shop is well worth the wait.


So what happens now? Time for some speculations:

1) Local ratings = could be bad. Only once or twice did I see a local article reporting about some official wanting to do something about violent video games -- negligible compared to what you guys have to put up with every day. It could be a problem later, when gaming really hits mainstream. In a country where contraceptives are still being debated and 'questionable' TV content is under scrutiny, this could become a catalyst for a total mature video game ban.

2) Local support = local Sony Computer Entertainment studio? Who knows, right? I mean, if a Philippine developer can get to help develop Uncharted 2, anything's possible. A local SCE studio may just happen, even in my dreams at least.

3) Nothing: maybe they're just selling the product. it's just business, after all.   read


8:29 AM on 02.01.2010

GGJ'10: FTW

Okay, last post I promised that my Global Game Jam story will be concluded in the succeeding post, but due to a very interesting development, I'll keep the 2nd part on hold for now. Why, you ask?

Because our entry, Crease, won both the Jury Award and the Participant's Choice Award! :D



You can download the game on this site (just look for the /release/ folder).

Anyway, here's the gist of its gameplay:

"[Crease] is a puzzle-platformer where the player must literally fold the game environment to help the slug reach the door."

A lot of ideas have been shelved for this build, some of them are listed below:

1) Multiple creases -- certain framework limitations, uh, limited level design to a certain degree. Our sole programmer told us they can be fixed, but not within the 48-hour time limit.

2) Character can move -- the platforming part of our puzzle-platformer wasn't all that represented because we've decided to focus on the folding mechanism and how much we can get from it. Future versions of this game will definitely include character movement.

3) Multiple folding platforms -- this is also due to the time limit, but we're pretty sure this can make the game all the more interesting.

4) The sticky side -- one crucial idea we came up with is that the character can move only within the sticky floor. This adds another layer of strategy because now the player must navigate within the allowed area. If we add the folding mechanism, this means the the sticky sides can be flipped and rotated (depending on the crease and the fold, of course).

5) Portals -- yeah, we'll be taking something from the cult favorite FPAdventure.

I think we're all interested in how far this game can go in the future. The 48-hour limit definitely affected how the concept, but from the looks of it, mayba we can expand Crease further, folds and all. ;-)

It's been a great-great-great learning experience, and I congratulate all Manila Game Jammers for not going insane in this 2-day fun crunch!



Production pics below:


Because our game is based on paper folding -- fun fact: one title suggested for this game was "The Origami Killer" because of the origami reference -- we used an unusual method of designing levels by actually using strips of paper folded in many different ways. Prototyping was already complete way before the levels are coded.


Our technical designer checking some of the level proposals. WIN means it won't break the game, and FAIL means we're idiots. Haha.


QA was also done on paper, which made the whole bug-testing process easier than expected.


Because the number of fold combination was daunting -- our programmer set out to define each of them, again on paper. :-)   read


6:02 PM on 01.29.2010

Global Game Jam: The first night

It's been an interesting night. Arrived late at the venue, and I missed all the talks from some of the master developers. I was so late, in fact, that a friend only texted me the theme (which I cannot reveal for time-zone reasons). When I arrived, they were just wrapping up on the "pitching" part, and there was already a pretty long list of ideas on the board. I pitched my idea too, but of course nobody bought it (and I call myself a designer, sheesh).

A friend at work pitched his idea personally, telling me how he needed help in this particular design. I reluctantly agreed -- reluctantly because I found the design too broad for such a limited time, and because I kept hoping that I can still push forward with my own (I can draw, but I need a coder to complete the "team.") Still, I said yes to his concept.

Around midnight, my friend suddenly proposed a new (but related) design. It was the first sign, and fortunately I convinced him to focus on his previous design because it would be such a waste of time (5 hours I think) if we have to start over.

By 3 AM, he told me that it wasn't working ... and we're not in the prototype stage yet! His arguments were valid, I gotta admit, and I kind of scolded him about it, that he should've seen this coming, that game designers should be "two steps ahead" of everyone, especially on what can and can't be done. Still, there was no other choice, and we were forced to scrap everything (although no significant code work was wasted, thank goodness).

After a while I came up with a seed of an idea, and a long discussion ensued for almost an hour. We talked about it during early lunch and we kept on paring down its excess fat. I googled the very concept, thinking that there must be something somewhere (like, you know, Kongregate) we can use as basis for the design, but luckily/unluckily there was none. We finally settled on its most basic form and now a new day awaits.

It's been an interesting night.


(to be concluded)   read


8:43 AM on 01.28.2010

gamejammer



Tomorrow is a big day for me: my first Global Game Jam weekend and also the first time I'm gonna develop a game not issued by the company I work for. Ah, the scary taste of independent game development...

Wish us luck! I'll post pictures whenever I can. (I think they'll be streaming live stuff from many different parts of the world, so goodbye anonymity)

If any of you are interested in joining this event, find the nearest spot here

  read


8:25 PM on 01.15.2010

GTA noob (plus art)

So I just started playing GTA IV -- my first GTA actually -- and 5 hours in, I'm still playing that darn thing. Good memories of Driver 2 came flooding back -- car crashes and all -- and they never get old. Anyway, this momentous event deserves a quick Niko Bellic art. Enjoy.



I now a mental to-do list for that game. I don't care much about the do-this-do-that story, so I'm making one myself. If only the console version has a Movie Director mode like in D2...   read


3:30 AM on 12.30.2009

tough call (better late than never edition)

I remember a friend asking everyone on Facebook which of the 2 high-def consoles he should get for the holidays. That launched a good wall-full of fanboys and girls, telling him what to buy. Eventually he bought a PS3, since we're pretty much a PlayStation country.

The one I did below is, in a way, inspired of that flame-bait post. Only this time, a child is caught in a console war for the first time.



Well in any case, this boy has what we call a very good problem.

Useless info: This is a sorta sequel to my first Dtoid Christmas post.
==

Anyway, here are my 5 Gaming Moments of 2009.

1) Lead design for 3 projects -- 1 iPhone, 1 PC, and one iPhone-PC. 1 released, 1 in the hands of our trusty QA team, and one still in pre-production. It's a year of pleasure and pain for me, and more will come in 2010.

2) Met with Uncharted 2's Art Director -- for one of our local dev meet, we had Erick Pangilinan as our guest. He talked about a lot of things, especially on the development side of Uncharted 2, although he also let us in on some secrets in and around the industry. Enlightening stuff. He also handed out Uncharted 2 shirts, but they were all in L and XL sizes so I passed (which I regretted dearly).

3) Game Design Challenge wins -- I know, I know, I've posted about this before. But it's still worth mentioning here. It was fun, and I learned that game devs need not be isolated (a startling parallelism with the "antisocial gamer" stereotype). Talking about how you work and learning much more from others is pure win.

4) Good gaming experience -- while I'm guilty of not following HD console gaming scene (because I only have a Wii right now, PS3's for my birthday later) and barely scratching the surface of what PC offered this year, but what I played, I enjoyed. 2010 promises to double that (because many '09 titles slipped to 1st quarter instead); now, if I have double the time, I'll be, uh, doubly happy.

==

2010 is almost here. Ready your FantaVision. :-D   read


7:28 PM on 10.15.2009

oh, Y0j1mb0 (the unsolicited art)

Alright, this may sound strange, but when someone commented on my last post warning me of something...



I got curious, so I clicked on Y0j1mb0's profile and saw amazing pieces of his alter-ego (on his banner and sidebar) from many artists in Dtoid. So I got an idea and started drawing right away (directly in ink, forgot to bring pencil to work yesterday):



This unsolicited, unasked-for piece is a 'thank you' note for putting my last post in cblogrecaps' Top Sauce (10/2).

EDIT: Seems like photobucket messed this one up yet again; anyway, you can find a higher res copy here

=========================

Been playing Need for Speed: Shift for a couple of days now. I realized the racing genre hasn't advanced in years other than shinier, more realistic cars and environment. Gameplay-wise, we've all seen this in the PlayStation days. Racing, Fighting, and to some extent the FPS genre -- they're all getting a bit stale. And no, online multiplayer is not a gameplay revolution.   read


7:17 PM on 10.02.2009

Nothing against Nomura, but... (plus some random art)

Just a random art very (and I mean very) loosely inspired by Mario's underwater adventures. This was done yesterday (all ink!) when I can't power-sleep during my lunch break. It's a slightly different style from the usual stuff I did before.



===========================================

I'm kind of worried for the Final Fantasy franchise, and probably for all the wrong reasons, but you've got to hear me out:

I'm getting sick of Tetsuya Nomura's art -- there, I said it.

The FF franchise could do some freshening up where art style is concerned. But this guy's clout over Square Enix is too enormous that his style has become some sort of pseudo-mascot for the company's contemporary games. Hell, even Yoshitaka Amano and Akihiko Yoshida's character designs (for FF9 and 12, respectively) both were forced to emulate Nomura's, not to mention a lot of unknowns inside the company. So much for individuality, I guess.

I think Nomura's character designs are becoming a bit bland, similar to Akira Toriyama's increasingly boring output. Or maybe their works have been overexposed and we're just getting tired of seeing familiar styles over and over again.

Wouldn't it be great if they get a new artist every installment? Since official FF titles are not directly related and are basically standalone titles with common (although faint) themes, they can at least risk changing the character designer, too. That'll give each title a flavor of its own, and it will generate more hype (and much forum trolling) with each official announcement.

Hey, Tetsuya! Give yourself a break! (or at least get your own series)   read


11:17 PM on 09.27.2009

let's pause for a break: Typhoon Ondoy

I know this is a gaming-blog and everything in between, but I just have to post this. I've been tinkering my other blog so until it's still broken (I forgot what "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" meant). Anyway, here goes.

Maybe I haven't introduced myself properly before: I live in the Philippines, an archipelago in South East Asia, and 2 days ago we were hit by a terrible storm known locally as Ondoy (international name: Ketsana). Long story short, a month's worth of rain poured down in less than a day. Estimates say that the amount of rain was double the amount from Katrina (455mm vs 250). According to officials, this was one of the worst flooding experienced in the country since the 1960s.

As of this writing, more than a hundred were killed (and counting) and 340,000 displaced. As you already know, I am a game developer for a company based in Manila. Most of my colleagues live in the city, and some of them couldn't make it to work due to floods in and around their homes. I was commuting back home when the storm hit; I got stuck inside the bus for 7 hours, but thankfully it was a safe (though boring) ride. Some people got off the bus to walk, just to get to their families.



I saw a couple of minors walking, never minding the danger ahead.



I got home at around 12mn Sunday. I listened to the news (cable was cut) and heard of ongoing rescue operations around the city. The entire National Capital Region and the provinces around it were put under the State of Calamity. Dozens of non-government organizations have pledged their support in assisting the needy, and I know more will pledge theirs in the coming days.

I didn't know that in the my lifetime I will be this affected by a storm. I usually just laugh it off or worse, thank the heavens for not sending me to school/work for another day. This time it's different.


Anyway, if any of you would like to donate and a portion of the thousands of Filipinos affected by Ondoy, you can send whatever amount you want, however small, to this link (Paypal): http://barriosiete.com/donate-for-ondoy-victims/ (Barrio Bayanihan for Ondoy Victims). Or here: http://www.redcross.org.ph/Site/PNRC/wtd.aspx (Philippine National Red Cross)

Thanks for the time to read this, and let's hope for a better tomorrow for some of my countrymen.



PS. This was done by my 4-y/o cousin yesterday; their house was one of the hundreds outside our subdivision affected by the storm.



(Caption: "Their house")   read





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