Progress

Teaching myself game design from the ground up.

Month: November, 2012

Portfolio Games

Here are my two games for my portfolio for the NYU Game Design MFA Program:

1. Queertastrophe 

Download Queertastrophe: http://www.sendspace.com/file/0r2sud

Note: That link has expired, so I re uploaded the files at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/i1chqssldzez2oa/Queertastrophe.zip

Installation: Unzip the file by double clicking it.  Then open the .app file labelled “Queertastrophe”.  Because I made this game in Game Maker for Mac, I was unable to save a version for the PC.

2. Fish Kill

Download Fish Kill: http://www.sendspace.com/file/ndqeq0

Note: That link has expired, so I re uploaded the files at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/zrm5yjsg19b0cv2/Fish%20Kill%20by%20Marni%20Cohen.zip

Installation: Unzip the file by double clicking it.  If you are using a PC, double click the FishKill.exe file.  If you are using a Mac, open the FishKill.app file.

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Name Game

Screen Shot 2012-11-21 at 4.00.51 PMAlmost done with my dancing game where you avoid your exes, here’s a screen shot.  I think  I’ve made the background about 5 times now and I need to finish the rest of the art so I can move on to the coding and wrapping it up nice for my portfolio.  I’m really proud of this, it’s my first solo game from beginning to end.  I’m making it in my game maker trial which I have 6 hours left in to finish this game.  No pressure, but it needs a name.

(edit: left the trial on over night and had to purchase game maker.  I feel like I lost diy points for spending money, but I guess supporting programs I use is a good idea)

Grad apps and Mazes

Making a 3D maze in Sketch Up for a group project in my Unity class.  SketchUp is an awesome tool from Google, and it’s a walk in the park compared to learning Maya.  You can use it for architecture, 3D models, and fancier stuff that I don’t get yet.  And it’s free!  Not just a demo that lasts x day (my biggest peeve because on the xth day I finally get how to use the program decently).  Here’s a snap shot of the maze so far:  

I really want to dive into working on textures for it, but I’m trying to dedicate the day to writing my grad application essays.  I don’t like trying to sell myself, especially to something that I’m going to pay a lot for, and I’m really conflicted about academia v. DiY education and blahblah but if I had an MFA I could someday ultimately teach game design and that would be amazing, and more and more jobs are asking for academic game design experience.

progress

I can’t believe how far I’ve come in such short time.  I’ll try to break down this post by progress, resources, and future plans.

Progress

Coding wise, I’m doing great in my C++ class and it’s helping me understand how to read the basics of other languages.  Back end design is sooo interesting, but all of the programs I write for my homework are to solve math equations which I’m not so interested in.  I want to be learning more codes simultaneously but I need a solid grip on one code first so I can branch out easier and not mix up everything I’m learning.

If you’re into learning C++ my class uses the book: C++ Programming by D.S. Malik and that seems to be the school standard.  Most of the homework is the exercises in the back, and it doesn’t really matter if you have the brand new version, the content in the older versions is pretty similar and way cheaper.

I chose C++ as my first code because it seemed like the most direct route to C#, although it isn’t an easy first code.  I know a lot of people who pick python as their first.  I asked someone what they felt the two most different codes were and he said Python and C++.  He described Python like a deck of cards, and C++ like a single card, Python deals with more global concepts while C++ is more about the individual aspects.

Art wise, I’m teaching myself Maya.  It’s a 3D animation program that is used often in the professional world, a good but complicated tool to learn.  (Free to use if you’re a student! The perks of community college).  I’m about a week into it and modeling my first animal, a fox, here’s a snap shot:

Image

As much as Maya scares me, I’m learning a lot faster now that:

1. I have a mouse.  I was using my laptop touchpad which is impossible for some needed navigation.
2. I’m over the initial “oh my good look at all those buttons” stage.  I’m getting better at ignoring the buttons I don’t understand and focusing on honing the tools I’ve figured out.

I’m taking a class on Unity, a game engine for 2D and 3D, but the class focuses on 3D.  The teacher had an emergency and won’t return for the rest of the term (half of the nerds in my class are already beyond what the teacher can show us anyways so I’m picking up odds and ends from them).  The teacher was replaced with a Maya teacher who knows nothing about Unity but can give me pointers and show me the millions of shortcuts in Maya (he’s teaching a course in two terms on it that I’ll take, but this is a great head start).  I like 3D modeling a lot more than I thought I would.  But I still think in 2D.

I’ve been drawing a pixel sprite a day as part of my crunch to get my first GameMaker game done.  It’s a dance party where you avoid your exes and bring drinks to everyone else.  I’m making most of the sprites based off of my friends and trying to keep it a very queer crowd (in all sense of the word, there’s a dancing pirate in the crowd).  I’m almost done with the background, I just need to figure out how to portray my exes without resembling them.  Here’s a sample sprite I did:

Image

Notes on Game Maker: It is a weird program.  It was highly recommended for newbies, so I’ve been toying with it.  It is good for learning, but not great for making games, and each version costs more and more just to make the game available to more people.  For example, if you have the Mac version you can only make Mac games.  Same with the PC version.  If you pay more you can get the HTML5 version and others that will make your game on whatever platform, but it’s a lot of money for a learning tool.  I wouldn’t recommend paying more than 20 bucks for a version of it.

Pussy Control, the gaming collective I’ve started, is going well.  We meet weekly or biweekly depending on availability.  It’s a small group, which is good because we just play games and this way we all have more turns.  We’ve played board games, gone to the arcade, and had a Super Mario World night.  This Sunday is bowling.  It’s a good way to keep me social despite all of my projects.

I’m applying to graduate programs which adds a crunch to all of my work, because I want it all in my portfolio and none of it feels ready but I can tell it will be ready in time.  Once my applications are in I am going to buy Dishonored and beat it.  Or maybe AC3. Or both.

Sources

Recently watched the Indie Game Documentary on Netflix instant watch and it was such a great insight on how if you want to make a great game you have to give up your life.  I’m still struggling to accept this because I have a pretty awesome life, but I’ve been doing alright progress on juggling my projects with going outside now and then.  It looks at Super Meat Boy, Braid, and Fez, along with the (awesome) white guys who made them.  I can’t wait to start uncovering the women and people of color and queers that are making amazing games, they are too far and few between still.

I’ve been diving into video tutorials.  I’ve heard Lynda.com is great but I’m broke and have little time to dedicate to it.  Maya has videos that have been great, and codeschool.org is nice for concepts.  I’m going to plan a post soon with all of the syllabuses (syllabi?) and articles and resources I’ve gathered with some summaries to help navigate it all.  I’ve been doing so much work that updating this blog gets left in the dust and I don’t want that. I want this blog to serve as a resource for other people trying to do the same thing I am, learn how to make video games.

Future

Grad school applications have me by the throat for a few more weeks.  I’m applying to NYU, Drexel, SCAD and UCSC.  I’m going to finish the fox model and dancing game by then, and a week after my Unity project is due in class (I’ll go more in depth on that another post, it’s a team project puzzle platform adventure and I’m mainly doing the art and design of puzzles rather than coding).  I want to focus more on the design elements of game play in the near future, now that I am getting a grasp on the art and coding basics.  I love that with every step I take in the direction I open more doors.  Earning my English degree never felt like this.