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9:25 PM on 03.12.2012

Late for Halloween, but yeah, whatever :)

So we just released a casual time-management game (for the casual gamers out there; i mean you do exist here on Dtoid, right?). Basically it's our macabre take on the bright-and-happy-service genre. I guess we're putting the "fun" back in "funeral," eh?



If you wanna try it out, a demo is downloadable at our Big Fish Games page



:-)   read


5:39 PM on 02.04.2012

Global Game Jam 2012: Enclosure



This is my 2nd time to join our local (read: Manila) game jam (my first jam was two years ago, and last year I just helped organize the event). As always, it was a very memorable 48-hour game dev crunch time (crunch can be fun, too!)

Anyway, here are the details:

Tien, Kristian, and I -- also known as Team December Project -- created a game from scratch based on the theme "Ouroboros," or the snake eating its own tail. It took a while for the word (and its meaning) to sink in, and it was at around 8 or 9 in the evening of Friday when we decided to take this theme out for a nighttime stroll. So we went out, walked several blocks, discussing, throwing ideas around, deciding which platform to use (Flash), how it should look (painting-inspired), and what elements to focus on (visually, the circle thing stuck with us).



But still the game eluded us. So we walked some more: talked and talked, got lost, asked strangers where the shops were (we missed the free dinner, heh), followed a couple who told us they were heading the same way, and finally, a few minutes later, in front of 3 steaming plates of tapsilog. We still have no idea what our game would play like, so we continued with the name-association thing that Tien suggested (so that's ouroboros = circle = infinity = loop = and so on). We didn't bother to over-think the theme because it will just make things complicated.

I didn't how it happened, but we started browsing through Kristian's Android phone for inspiration, and he showed us some interesting live wallpapers (take that, iOS!), including this particular Tron-esque thing:



"What if we could touch those lines and they change direction?"
"Like Tron?"
"Yeah, but different!"

Okay, so it's not the real conversation, but we got the feeling that we're on to something. Something about the lines and the colors. One early idea that I proposed was this:

What if each color has a behavior (like how it moves), and mixing one color with another changes its behavior?

Tien and Kristian kept the ball rolling by suggesting different (and definitely better) mechanics and goals. Some ideas were discarded, others combined, but we always go back to the stream of colors. Mixing colors was definitely in; one of our the game's initial goals was to combine a multitude of colors to form a white loop, which opens a portal to the next level.

But the "how to do it" part? Definitely still up in the air.

Walking back to the Jam site, we discovered this giant sundial in front of an engineering college building:



Tien suggested that we stop and just, you know, look at sundial. We're still kind of lost with our game idea so we took the chance to take something from it -- figuratively speaking, of course. After a few minutes of staring at the structure (and getting curious looks from night joggers), we decided to head back to the site.

By the time we arrived at UP ITTC building, we're pretty solid with the mechanics of the game, but the goal is still, well, nothing! We knew that pressing on the screen (we're envisioning it as a mobile game) will make the stream of colors passing nearby to start orbiting the center of the point, but the "why" part? No, we're not there yet. AND it's almost midnight; everyone's already hard at work with their games while we're just setting up our workstations.

It was around 3 in the morning, after writing a very short document of what we've talked about, when the initial excitement over the idea started to wane: we still don't have the goals, the obstacles, to make it look and play like a game. And it's already Saturday!

So I went out, took a couple of markers and a piece of carton (we ran out of paper) and tried to assemble our mechanics -- everything we have, really -- into something that would seem like a game. I went back and discussed this with Kristian (Tien slept early since he didn't have that many tasks to do). "Click anywhere" was thrown out, and we limited the color streams' movement in a grid, which made the whole thing suddenly look organized.



We decided that the goal now is to guide the color stream to a supposed "Point B" by using the orbit-around-a-point mechanic. Our game finally found its purpose. Everything was clearer now.

30+ hours later, we completed our game, Enclosure. It took home the Jury Award 1st Place and the People's Choice award as well. Yay! :-)



You can download our game from our Global Game Jam page:

http://globalgamejam.org/2012/enclosure-infinite-hues

Be sure to check the other awesome games from ITTC and CSB sites, too!   read


9:22 AM on 09.19.2011

Vivi, then not Vivi (a fan art)

Yeah, it's been three months since my last art update. Been very busy with a game due this October and I was just...well, busy.

A few weeks ago I noticed some friends from the art department were posting very nice pieces of digital art for what they call an "art jam" -- so being the presumptuous game designer that I am, I asked if I can join as a sort of newbie-so-don't-take-me-seriously contributor for their weekly art submission. Their previous themes were about faeries (don't ask) or orcs or other fantasy creatures, and lucky me, last week's theme was a "character from a video game." So maybe I can do this -- not with their level of skill, but I think I can scrape through with something.

Anyway, I've been meaning to do a fan art from Final Fantasy 9 for a long time, but I was just too scared or too lazy to do it; it's my favorite FF, by the way, so it's really a no-brainer. I started working on something Vivi-related last week inspired by that heartfelt scene at Dali Village where our tiny black mage discovered something horrific...



...only to replace it with another concept while traveling to work a few days later (Pro-tip: hop on a bus, sit at the corner, and just think) and decided to tie it to my previous work (a kid playing as Wander of SotC).



After a few days of experimenting and revising and polishing (and repeating almost everything), I finished the too-soon-for-Halloween boy in a Vivi costume fan art:



I'll save the dramatic Vivi scene for later. :-)   read


2:42 AM on 06.12.2011

At least try (LA Noire fan art)

After six long months of silence, a new fan art. This time for L.A. Noire:



10 cases in and I still don't know what to make of L.A. Noire. The technology's great, and so does its beautiful recreation of 1940s Los Angeles, but repetitiveness is quickly setting in. Maybe its potential is hidden sometime after my first 10 cases, but for now the entire talk-investigate-talk-chase-talk-shoot-talk shenanigan is just testing my patience.   read


11:00 PM on 12.31.2010

No cake this Christmas (new fanart)

As part of an ongoing tradition to post something gaming-related every Christmas (as seen here and here), I made another fan art with Fat Princess as its theme. I know I'm a year too late, but better late than never, eh?



I have a confession to make though: I didn't finish the damn thing and it wasn't half-done by New Year. I've less than a day to spare for this (I'm working this holiday, so...) and I guess I bit more than I could chew. Proof that it's unfinished: Knight and Priest hats for gifts instead of actual characters, no background (well, complete bg), etc.

Still it's a progressive improvement; my first Christmas art has two characters, the second has three, and this one's got four characters! Yay!

Seriously, Happy Holidays to all. 2011's another big year for gaming.

+ +

I'm a PS3 owner, and I know many owners (and fanboys, there's a big difference) are looking forward to the platform's 2011 lineup -- just look at all the first-party/exclusive stuff scheduled for release next year!

1) LittleBigPlanet 2
2) Killzone 3
3) Uncharted 3
4) The Last Guardian
5) Resistance 3
6) Infamous 2
7) Ratchet and Clank: All4One
8) Journey (probably)

Usually we only see 2-3 major games a year, and for some reason (perhaps dev delays are also a factor?) we're getting most of 'em this year. Maybe the 2012 apocalypse is real so they want to end the year (and the world) with a bang. Cheers.   read


10:12 AM on 11.08.2010

Colossal (art update)

While listening to Kow Otani's sublime soundtrack for Shadow of the Colossus, I remembered that I did a fan art for it almost 2 years ago:



I was too proud of it then because of two things: 1) It was one of my first digital artworks using a pen tablet -- and in color too! 2) I finally finished SotC! A momentous occasion perhaps.

Now 2 years later, I had this idea of a boy trick-or-treatin' in a Wander-inspired costume.



A lot has changed after 2 years, I guess. :-)

(Looking forward to that HD ICO-SotC bundle next year!)

======

Speaking of HD ports, I think Square should upgrade FF12 to the PS3. Gameplay- and story-wise, it's definitely more next-gen than FF13, IMO. Come on, those textures are screaming for a make-over!   read


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


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