Browsing Posts published by MartinCopp

In between zooming around from NS to NB this past weekend, I knocked out a Ludum Dare game. Neat little randomly generated retro style platformer. Posting this both on the Ludum Dare site and my own blog. So LDer’s enjoy an expository preamble!

Click to play

Preamble

So if you’re unfamiliar with Ludum Dare it’s an online, solo game development competition. They release a theme and you have to develop a game using that theme in a forty-eight hour timeframe.  A large list of themes is created and after a few rounds of voting , the list is culled to a dozen or so final themes to vote on. After the final round of voting is complete, the theme is released and a sleepless, hectic weekend begins. I was rooting for “Randomly Generated” to be selected as the theme and was already salivating at the prospect of making a roguelike.

Over the last few years the only games that really stick out to me as being actually fun and life destroyingly addictive were the new wave of roguelikes. Spelunky, Transcendence, and The Binding of Isaac have taken a mostly inaccessible genre and made it almost casual. If a player can get over how masochistic these games are, it really scratches their drive for mastery. There is nothing that can foster that “Just one more turn…” effect better than these games. But I digress, this is a subject worth a post all on its own.

Spelunky was a harsh mistress

The weekend of this Ludum Dare coincided with a friend’s Christmas party I few hours away. I didn’t want to lose six hours driving back and forth so I opted for twelve hours by train. After packing everything for the trip I settled in and waited for the theme reveal. “Alone” ended up hedging out Randomly-Generated by a few votes.  Even though I was bummed over my pet theme losing, I figured I could still work Randomly-Generated into my concept. What I roughed out, was that you were a monster created by the government, you wanted to escape their pursuit and be left alone. I pegged the gameplay as a platformer with randomly generated level sections. I wasn’t sure about combat and mechanics but I was hoping it’d grow organically throughout the competition. My main goal was to produce something playable that had some random level generation in it.

Could you, would you, on a train?

What went right?

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If Google brought you here, you’ve likely searched high and low for a solution to the missing Stereo Mix in Windows 7.

Problem:

Trying to record streaming audio in a program like Audacity or Soundforge, but your Stereo Mix option is unavailable.

What? It'd make a good ringtone!

continue reading…

Last January when we were establishing On The Fly Entertainment we decided we’d need a business plan. We wanted to hash out on paper if a small social game studio would be able to employ a handful of people, and really research our market. This also was a big help when approaching funding agencies.

This was hugely time consuming for me as I didn’t have the first clue about writing a business plan. I cut down on industry jargon considering the folks reading the business plan may not have a Facebook account, so the first third of the business plan eases them into the concepts of free to play games on a social network and all that jazz. The rest is market research with comparisons to our own plans. Although this is geared towards a social network game studio, the format would work just as well for a Flash or XBLA/PSN focused business plan.

Download (DOC, 2.85MB)

If you’re in internet explorer, download the doc :P

It seems like a waste to let this while away on my desktop, and it’s a pain to find business plan resources for very small indie studios. So if you don’t have a “Business” guy hopefully this is a help to you. Only thing left out of this is our cashflow projections, which in hindsight, were a bit… off. If there are any improvements you want to suggest feel free to leave a comment!

Woo! Site revamp! Slightly more professional than the old site, and easier for me to update I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on a variety of game related topics lately, and I really want to make the effort to clearly articulate those thoughts. So the purposes of this blog are threefold:

  • Develop a writing style, and figure out what my preferred content will be.
  • Spotlight nifty bits of game design or tech things.
  • Chronicle thoughts, ideas and things I may want to revisit later.

I mean, I’ve been dying to throw a blog together for a while, but I never really had much to say. In this past year there has been a ton of things that have really motivated me to write:

  • Have plenty of post-mortem stuff from Sum Fighter that I want to put into words before I forget it.
    • Also a few XNA and XBLIG development and post production tips.
  • Finally ticking off my New Years resolution of “be more active in online communities”.
  • The enjoyment I have gotten out of blogging for LudumDare and 1MonthGame. Although it was a relatively small amount of blogging I loved the experience.

I guess the final spark was a call to arms from a Brainy Gamer podcast:

Its impossible to play everything and it’s silly to even try, I go back to the arcade era, and I remember when we all played the same games. Even when the Atari and later the NES arrived with a flood of games, it still seemed like we all basically played most of the same games, we had a common set of experiences. Now if you consider that the market includes mobile games, social games, flash games, PC gaming, console gaming, and etc, we have a flood of games in an increasingly fragmented market. I think if we had to identify common experience games we’d be hard pressed to do it. There’s now more than a single “audience” out there for games.

…To me, all of this is to suggest that now more than ever, we need smart informed people writing thoughtfully about games. Now, this isn’t just a matter of more hands on deck to cover the spectrum of games from casual to hardcore … I think it’s more about shedding our predjudices about genres and platforms and target audiences. I think its about finding ways to respond to games outside the existing frames of mechanical analysis, buy it or rent it advice, numerical scores, or other familiar methods of responding to games. More informed or alternative critical responses might be generated by other voices (outside of mainstream game journalism), and we need those voices in the conversation.

…What I am trying to say is, if you see yourself possessing such a critical voice, but you’ve remained on the sidelines because you see the writing about games space, hopelessly over populated, I encourage you to consider jumping in and adding your voice, add your perspective, add your point of view, become part of that broad conversation, that I think is necessary if we are to get beyond the kind of standard “play it, talk about it for five minutes and move on to the next game cycle” which I think we are mired in.

Reflecting on this, I know I’m offering another game developer voice amongst a sea of many, but it’s a voice I want to develop. All in all I’m not sure how this blog will end up. It could be a development journal, an attempt at game critiques, or even a smattering of random tech tidbits. At the very least I know the blog will help me find my voice, reflect on experiences, and let me flex my writing muscle a little bit.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”