Seen Around LA

Posted by on May 31, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

I’ve started work, I’m settled in, and I’m finally adjusted to the pacific time. Working at EALA is awesome, and if the rest of the summer is anything like the previous week, I’d love to come back in the future. Unfortunately, given the nature of the work, I can’t talk about what I’m doing because it’s an unannounced project. So instead I’ll talk about the rest of LA. Two Ferraris, a Mercedes McLauren, three Shelby Mustangs, four Bentleys…in a span of four blocks in Beverly Hills. Ate lunch at the Urth Caffe, an extremely overpriced Starbucks. I frequently use “overpriced” and “Starbucks” in the same sentence, but I never expected to use them in that context. $16 for a sandwich and a cup of tea. Close to the apartment complex where we live, my roommates and I found Brennan’s Pub. It’s a pretty standard Irish Pub, except on Thursday nights they have Turtle Racing – which is exactly what it sounds like. Eagerly awaiting Thursday night. The apartment complex itself, “Fountain Park,” is quite nice. Swimming pool, hot tub, gym, on-site pizza place, and lots of greenery. The rooms are on the small side (meant for two people instead of four) but it’s still got everything we need. Only been to In-N-Out Burger once so far. Supposedly there’s a better burger place around here called “Counter,” but we haven’t made it there yet. Found a crazy-awesome hole-in-the-wall Chinese place though. I utterly failed at bringing my camera along this weekend. I’ll attempt to redeem myself this...

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In the words of Douglas Adams…

Posted by on May 24, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

“In no known language exists the phrase ‘beautiful like an airport.'” I’m sitting at gate B9 in Jacksonville waiting for my flight to take off to DC. United tried to convince me to change to a later flight three times at check in, so they must really want me to take a different airline. Like many airlines, they overbook every flight to maximize profit. I don’t really care what airline I fly as long as my bags make it to LA. Weather in Jacksonville has been less than desirable over the past week. Six days in a row of rain, with more rain in the forecast every day for the next ten days. The forecast for LA for the next ten days has partly cloudy skies with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the high 50’s. Providing United doesn’t delay my flight (lol) I should be getting to my new apartment in about 9...

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Audiball Postmortem

Posted by on May 22, 2009 in Blog, Feature, My Games | 0 comments

I’ve wanted to write a proper postmortem for Audiball for some time now and I’ve been putting it off for far too long. Below, I try to summarize six months of my life into a few pages of text. Audiball was not a commercial success, nor was it groundbreaking in any way, but it was my experience with game development and I’ll always be proud of it. Read on if you’re interested in the game’s original vision, what sacrifices were made, what unexpected events changed development, how the game’s soundtrack was composed, how you can learn from my mistakes, and how an announcement trailer can be the longest fifty seconds of your life. Background Before starting development on Audiball, I was hooked on Jonathan Mak’s Everyday Shooter. Of course he’s already credited in the game for inspiration. It did a great job of using non-traditional sound effects in each level to blend with the game’s soundtrack. Each level used a different set of sound effects for shooting, explosions, combos, and just about everything else. It’s really what made the game exceptional as opposed to, well, your everyday shooter. Everyday Shooter At the same time, I was playing quite a bit of Rock Band with my roommates. The speakers on our TV blew out while we were in the middle of a difficult song, and while the guitarists and drummer were able to continue without a problem until it came back on, the singer promptly failed out. I guess I had never really considered that Rock Band is just a test of muscle memory. It’s why Guitar Hero is able to take away all the colors of the frets and players still know which buttons to push: the colors are irrelevant once you know where they are, it’s only the positions that matter. It was then that I got curious about the idea of focusing on the colors of the frets rather than their positions. It would be a completely different way of using the guitar controller. Of course, that also meant that no skills would carry over from any other guitar game. Playing Audiball for the first time would be similar to playing Guitar Hero for the first time; the guitar controller would be a new controller all over again. Then came the challenge of trying to make it “fun” as opposed to “unintuitive.” Rock Band doesn’t lets you play music much in the way that you play a game, but you don’t produce music or influence it in any way other than “off’ or “on” when you miss or hit notes. I wanted to explore making something that was “the opposite of Guitar Hero” in that multiple aspects of the player’s performance would determine what they heard coming out of the speakers. I didn’t want to try to make a music composition program for a guitar controller because I didn’t see how that could be fun – of course, Guitar Hero World Tour ended up doing it later that year anyways. Instead, I tried to let the player work towards a visible goal (the gameplay) while using the sound intensity to reflect their progress towards that goal (the  reward). Initial Design (March-April 2008) The game was initially drafted on a giant whiteboard in our residence hall in spring...

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Summer Plans

Posted by on Apr 12, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

Haven’t made a proper update here since before GDC (which was awesome, by the way). I thought I’d write a bit about what I’m doing right now and what I’m doing this summer. I made a post over on the Indiecisive Games blog about Audiball’s performance on Xbox Live Community Games. It was about average for Community Games, and it was a great experience for our first project. The next Indiecisive project is well underway and will be “revealed” on April 30th when we submit it to Indiecade. On Friday I accepted an offer from EA LA for a “technical designer” internship position. I know that I’ll be working on an unannounced project on a smaller team, but that’s about it. I’m really exctied for the opportunity to work with some of the best minds in the industry – even more so than the amenities their campus has to offer. I will also likely be attending E3 this year because I’ll be in LA. It doesn’t seem too long ago that I was slobbering over the computers in my middle school library every time E3 and the hype that surrounds it rolled around. My classes finish at Tech on April 27, and I move out to LA on May 22. I’ll spend the bit of vacation I have between Jacksonville and Atlanta, but I’m glad I’ll get to stay busy. Finally, I put up a self-portrait of myself on the “About Me” page. The idea probably isn’t original. I haven’t seen it before, but that doesn’t mean a thing on the internet. I still had fun putting it together regardless. I’ll be sure to make an update to the site when I can say more about the Indiecisive project, and I’ll update whenever I can while I’m in LA to talk about everything except what I’m doing at work – I have a feeling EA wouldn’t like that....

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I Can Has Moar Composition

Posted by on Mar 31, 2009 in Audio Composition, School | 0 comments

Here’s another composition I made about a year ago for a music class at Tech. I was still learning Reason at the time, but it’s better than the last one I posted. The time I spent on projects in this class laid the foundation for Audiball’s soundtrack, which I’ll also post at a later date. Of course, Audiball’s soundtrack was based around procedural generation, so releasing it as static files is a little harder than it is with these. Download (3.17...

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Random Art #1

Posted by on Feb 26, 2009 in Artwork, Contests, School | 1 comment

Here are some more random designs I made last year. The events they were made for have come and gone, but hey, it can’t hurt to put them on the blog, right? comp For a design derby themed “Words As Art” chalk For a flyer used to advertise a campus organization’s chalk-drawing contest guitar For a class project, where I was tasked to combine something I love (plastic guitar games) with something I hate...

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Finishing Pre-Production, or Starting Development?

Posted by on Feb 18, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s one of those “half-full, half-empty” things, you know?  I’m getting into the full swing of the next project from Indiecisive Games. We’re still waiting for Audiball‘s sales results, but it’s never too early to act on a good idea. I’m excited about working on a new game. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed being able to relax, catch up on sleep, and have a social life over the past two months and the nature of the job means I have to give some of that up (most likely the unimportant stuff like sleep). The biggest lesson learned from developing Audiball was that deadlines aren’t a good thing like professors will have you believe. Any amount of good they do in “motivating” you to work is quickly erased by the hundreds of hours of sleep you have to give up to meet said deadline. I now fully understand the ideology behind “Valve Time,” or Blizzard’s motto of “it’s done when it’s done.” With this indie company I’m working for myself, right? There’s no reason to drive ourselves crazy by saying it has to be completed by such and such a date. And to any of the companies I applied for an internship with who may be reading this, I’m actually just kidding, I’m really good at following deadlines, and usually I like to finish stuff early because that’s a desirable trait for a hiree....

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Theme Update

Posted by on Feb 17, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

Just installed a new theme to the site, one that shouldn’t have any problems in IE7, Firefox, or Opera (image alignment was rough in the last theme). I’ll be making some of my own changes to it over the next few weeks, so if you encounter any problems displaying the page, please let me know. This blog is also now being streamed to the new D-Pad Network homesite, so here’s a shout out to all the regulars over there.

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Audiball Featured on Georgia Tech Homepage

Posted by on Jan 24, 2009 in Blog, My Games, School | 0 comments

gatech My indie startup, Indiecisive Games, was featured in a story by Georgia Tech’s Digital Lounge this month. You can check out the full article...

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Games of 2008 Wrap-up

Posted by on Dec 28, 2008 in Blog, Now Playing | 0 comments

Since Audiball finished development, I’ve had a lot more time to play the games I’ve been buying over the past few months. Hit the jump for some quick impressions. Fallout 3 – Didn’t care for Oblivion so I came into this game not expecting much. The “VATS” battle system makes it a completely different gameplay experience even though it’s the Elder Scrolls engine. Tons of character, tons of stuff to do, but I was disappointed with the rather limited scope of the endings. Dead Space – Excellent game. As others have said, “Resident Evil 4 in Space,” and that can only be meant as a compliment to EA Redwood Shores. The focus on dismemberment is unique and somewhat refreshing in a genre that has always been about headshots. Left4Dead – Speaking of zombies, this is the multiplayer game of the year. Versus mode is a wonderful change of pace from deathmatch and CTF. Lips – Disappointing to say the least. The microphones are of awesome quality, but despite the addition of gesture controls, I’d pick Singstar or Karaoke Revolution over this any day. Of course, Rock Band still tops them all. Biology Battle – A fellow Xbox Live Community Game, and easily the best one on the service. Although it’s $10, it’s a Geometry Wars clone that manages to be better than Geometry Wars in every way. Mother 3 – Finally got around to playing the fan translation. I last played through Earthbound about a year ago, and I’m enjoying this just as much. Still clueless as to why it’s not being released on the other side of the pond. Tales of Vesperia – At least as good as Tales of Symphonia so far, which was previously my favorite game in the series. The voice acting doesn’t make me want to shove forks in my ears, so that’s better than most JRPGs right off the bat. Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 2 – Better than Episode 1, at least. This is turning into a better-than-average RPG, so anyone who had any interest in the first one owes it to themselves to check this out. If you like Penny Arcade and you like RPGs, you’ll love this game. Mirror’s Edge – I can understand the negative reviews: the combat sucks, especially in areas where it’s forced. But when everything else is so good, it’s hard to withhold a recommendation. It’s somewhat anticlimactic, but it’s an amazing start. I just hope it does well enough to warrant a sequel. Banjo Kazooie (XBLA) – I can’t believe how much this game has aged. Was I really this obsessive about collect-a-thons back in the day? Gears of War 2 – Not a fan of the control system. Presentation is top-notch, but when every other time I die is a result of a faulty control scheme instead of a smart AI, it gets annoying. Whose idea was it to make “climb” and “roll” the same button with an unforgiving margin of error? That’s it for now. Happy new...

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