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BostonFIG Here We Come

Posted August 3, 2015 By Andrew Bradley

We have been informed that our game, The Treasure of Skeleton Island, was accepted into the tabletop showcase at the upcoming Boston Festival of Indie Games!

We have a good deal of planning to do in the next month to get ready, so watch this space for the experience of first-time booth-holders at a small but growing con. Hope to see some of you there!

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Short All-Purpose Update

Posted June 13, 2014 By Andrew Bradley

Well, it’s been far too long since we updated this space. If you are a regular reader, I apologize for the lapse. But, strength! The lapse has not extended as far as our development tasks. Read the remainder of this entry »

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XKCD: Orbital Mechanics

Posted April 17, 2014 By Jeff

Substitute RAND for NASA and this describes my knowledge evolution fairly well: Orbital Mechanics http://xkcd.com/1356/

Gotta love a game that teaches orbital mechanics. Now, if only I could find one that teaches auto mechanics, I’d be on my way to learning something useful.

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Kickstarter is live!!!!

Posted April 5, 2014 By Andrew Bradley

Go check it out!

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Throwback Thursdays: SimCity 2000

Posted March 7, 2014 By Jeff

It is hard to believe that this year is the 20th anniversary of SimCity 2000. It was the first game I can remember staying up all night to play. SimCity 2000 was one of the rare games that received parental non-disapproval. After moving cross country four times, with three to four years between each move, that game is the only thing that has been lost and then replaced. I haven’t played it in a while, since I’m writing this on a Chromebook and never bothered buying a drive for my MacBook Pro, but this being a Throwback, I’m going to ask my younger self to review it for me.

SimCity 2000 graphics are awesome. Instead of the boring top-down colored blocks from SimCity, the view is almost 3D and the buildings have all different designs on them. You can zoom in to see details and spin the camera around to see things from different angles (important when you start building big buildings, because they’ll actually block your view sometimes). Now that your city is no longer in flatland, there is terrain to deal with as well as layout. You can edit the terrain for free before the game starts, creating mountains, lakes, forests, etc. Or, you can take a computer generated terrain, find a good spot to start your city, then reshape the terrain as you expand. I usually take the second approach, since it is more realistic, and isn’t that the whole point? It makes you consider building a road around that giant mountain (even though it screws up your grid), rather than embarking on a costly earthworks project.

Taking care of the city finances is important, since it determines how fast your city grows and what kind of development moves in. I try to avoid industrial cities because they’re dirty and make lots of pollution, so I usually zone very little industrial and enact any ordinance I can to keep things clean, even if it costs me money. Since the plot of land is so large, you can try sticking all the dirty industry off in a corner, but any successful game eventually takes over the whole area, so you’ll have to deal with them at some point.

I find the most challenging thing to do well is public transit. It doesn’t make sense to put in subways for a small town (and the game doesn’t make it available until your city is bigger anyway), so by the time you’re ready for a metro line, all the good places to put one are full. I don’t mind knocking down a building or two to put in the station (no eminent domain problems here!), but sometimes putting in the underground tracks automatically reshapes the land above, destroying whole blocks. This was always very frustrating to me and I never found a good way to avoid it.

There isn’t really any way to “win” at SimCity 2000, which is part of the appeal, but I find that I sometimes get a bit bored when my city is running too well. I’ve even left it on overnight and come back in the morning to things still running smoothly. Of course, a few fires may have burned some sections, or something like that, but the residents rebuild. Eventually, once I’ve filled up the map and am earning lots of money, I’ll throw in a bunch of disasters (tornadoes, fires, even alien attacks are possible), see how well I can react, then trash the city and start over from scratch. This way, you can play over and over again, each time making your city bigger, or better, or grow faster. It’s a wonderful game and I’m sure I will enjoy it for many years to come.

I’ve got many fond memories of SimCity 2000 and its descendants, though SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4 are sort of blurred together in my mind, but I never got in to any of the spin-offs, the most notable of which was TheSims. I like the grand scale of trying to manage an entire metropolis over managing individual lives, and I also stopped playing video games during college, when TheSims was all the rage. SimCity 2000 is a well-balanced Imperial Stout: it isn’t too aggressive, so it is easy to get started, but there is a lot of depth to its character and every once in a while you realize after the fact that you accidentally consumed a bit too much to handle in one sitting.

Want to try SimCity 2000 for yourself? Buy it via our link below and we’ll get a nice little Thank You from Amazon for sending you their way.

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Fishing Jam conclusion

Posted May 29, 2013 By Andrew Bradley

This was a good game jam. A loose topic, loose timing, just really the vague suggestion that people make a game. And so, with those vague guidelines, I did manage to knock together what might generously be called an alpha build of a game about fishing, as a shark.

The design is much more ambitious than this, and I do hope to continue with it. Which I think is really the point of the game jam. Not to have a finished, polished, product, but a finished-ish product that is worth building on.

If you’d care to play it, click. Opens in the Unity Web Player, which you’ll need to install if you haven’t got it. Controls aren’t listed on the site, but they’re WASD or arrow keys to steer the shark, space bar to dash forward.

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XBone Thoughts

Posted May 24, 2013 By Andrew Bradley

So Microsoft had its big Xbox One launch party this week. I, like many, tuned in. I, unlike many, was happy with what I saw.

Home Entertainment Console

Much of the twittersphere was up in arms moments in to the presentation and ongoing until Microsoft started talking about the games. The Xbox is supposed to be a game console first, they said, and I agree. But I use my 360 these days as much for home entertainment options as for gaming, so I for one can see that the new product, much like the current gen, is a home entertainment box. Games are one of the things it does well.

But what was new, sexy, and exciting was the dashboard voice interface, the Skype capability, the DVR and live TV capability. When they finally got to the games everyone was clamoring for, they weren’t exactly well-received either. Some EA Sports titles thrilled exactly nobody, and a new Call of Duty that’s already been announced may get some excitement going, but it isn’t really that thrilling. Ok, so now there’s a dog. And fish that get out of the way.

The problem is, this is a new console generation at a time when the previous generation, while aging, could probably have hung on a little bit longer, and the improvements in graphics and sound, while technically prodigious and thrilling, don’t make a gigantic difference to the viewing experience at 40 frames per second. If I’m stopping to observe the scars on my pet dog in CoD, I’m dead. The side-by-side comparison of MW3 to Ghosts certainly demonstrated that the power and capabilities of the new box are vastly superior, but I think Microsoft knew that the difference wasn’t really their biggest story. That’s why they held off on it.

Brohammer Games

The game criticism that I felt was more valid was those games which they chose to present. But in retrospect, I understand this decision too. Among the “hardcore” gamer community, and most of my developer friends, a new generation of EA Sports games barely registers on the radar. There haven’t been any incredible experiences in that area in a long time, and EA doesn’t seem inclined to work toward any. And why should they? Pressing a new edition of Madden is like printing money. And that’s exactly why Microsoft chose to present it. Madden trailed only Black Ops II in sales for 2012. So if you’re trying to introduce a new box, are you going to appeal to the connoisseur crowd, or the mass market? There was no mention of indie games or Microsoft’s approach to them at this event, and for that I don’t blame them either. Would I like to see my games one day published on this box? Of course. But as a maker, it’s important to remember that it’s games like Madden and Call of Duty that put boxes in houses, and once those boxes are there, they become the market for the more experimental or interesting stuff.

To that end, I found the complaints about the lack of indie talk to be misguided and selfish. Indie, remember, comes from the word “independent” and we shouldn’t be presented at an event like that. We aren’t the mass market that makes money for Microsoft. Sure, there’s some income there, but Ghosts is probably going to generate more income for Microsoft than a year’s worth of indies. Braid was considered a smash hit in XBLA terms when it was released, and it sold around  30k units in its first month. And that was a massive success. Call of Duty: Ghosts sold that many copies last week (according to VGChartsz.com), and it doesn’t come out for six months. Even the runaway success of XBLA sales numbers, Minecraft is pushing maybe 5 million sales. This is of course a tremendously impressive number, but it’s where the big-name games we saw this week will be when GameStop closes up from their midnight launch parties. And that’s Minecraft.

You can’t have an indie game scene without a platform. While PC, Linux, and Mac are certainly not going anywhere, having consoles brings games to many more people. You couldn’t have even had a AAA title like LA Noire without Grand Theft Auto, nevermind experimental imaginative stuff like Journey or Fez or Terraria. I’m still confident that Xbox One will be a tremendous success, and that a vocal internet isn’t necessarily going to change Microsoft’s plans. And nor should they.


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Fishing Jam, Part 1

Posted May 19, 2013 By Andrew Bradley

I’m not fantastic about updating. Maybe this week.

Anyway, thanks to the Twitter, I found out about this game jam. The 1st ever fishing game jam, and it’s this week, so hey, why not.

The rules are loose, and using the term “rules” gives them even more strength than they really have, because this is the best kind of game jam — they’ve thrown out an appropriately vague theme, given an approximate time to work with, and said Go! So here I’ll go.

I played around Blender a little bit (Warning: Non-artist art ahead), and have created my main character and have him working in Unity here.

All this machine does is swim, and eat, and make little sharks. And that's all.

All this machine does is swim, and eat, and make little sharks. And that’s all.

Next up I’ll be attempting to make the ocean generate randomly each time you play. I have some ideas for that. And most of the game play worked out. This should be a fun week, if I really have time to do it. If I do, I’ll keep things up-to-date here, because what’s the point of a game jam if I don’t?

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New Focus

Posted April 4, 2013 By Andrew Bradley

So if you’ve been following this blog, which according to the stats you haven’t, you’ll have noticed I stopped posting a couple of months back. So here’s the deal.

After the success of my first One Game a Month project, I was totally reinvigorated about game development and wanted to immediately move toward bigger projects. So the once-a-month idea went out the window, and I’ve started in on something much larger that will require me to include other people and will take probably a year or so minimum, depending on what else happens in that time. But as a lone developer, I’ve often had a hard time finding real guides to the whole process of game development. Finding individual ideas on some steps is easy but overall guidance is hard.

“But haven’t you been a professional game developer before?” you ask. Yes, I have. And that’s why I’ve decided to re-focus this blog on going through the process as I do it. My intention is to keep it more up-to-date but I think everyone’s always is.

I’ll start soon with the very first steps, stuff I’ve already done for this project, and go from there.

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One Down

Posted January 31, 2013 By Andrew Bradley

It’s the end of January. And that means I should have a game completed. And I do.
Check out my One Game a Month profile here: http://bit.ly/WE6EL3

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