Teaching myself game design from the ground up.

ImageSo last week I made a board game template, which was kind of a nice break from not-coding because I’m busy procrastinating on a different project.  So, there’s this community called SMYRC (Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center) and it’s basically a safe place for queer kids to hang out (high school age) and meet other gaybies.  I used to go, and there was an alumni meeting recently of all the youth from when I used to go (like a big gay high school reunion).  Anyways, I wanted to bring something to this reunion that we could give to the youth to build off of.  One of my biggest complaints about the queer community is how challenging it can be to feel connected across generations.  It isn’t like gay parents can give their gay babies a sense of gay tradition.  I’ve heard some Imageamazing stories from older queers about the politics of being gay in the in the past and it just brings a broader sense of community to being queer.  

So, longer story shorter, I made a board game template.  I made blank cards, decided that the cards had to be something anecdotal with a “move forward or backwards x spaces”.  The photos are too tiny to really read, but these say things like “Out of Coffee, skip turn”, “Get run over by pride float, move back 3 spaces”, “You’re baking cookies. There’s are no eggs and no milk or butter.  Use avocado and applesauce like a boss.  Forward 5 spaces”, and “Pierced yourself with a safety pin (and it gets infected). Move back 3 spaces”.   It brought up a lot of great stories and was a really fun bonding experience since most of us were awkward art kids in the first place. 

I also made a blank board based off of their logo.  There are a couple alternative paths, but one is


clearly shorter than the rest.  The rules I printed were basically “The person with the most glitter on goes first.  Pick a card to see how far you move.  Everyone is a winner but the game ends when you age out.”  (Aging out means being too old to be considered a youth anymore by smyrc’s standards).  I’m really glad I made this project, even though I didn’t actually get to play it in the end.  I hope to visit it in a few months to see what the youth have added, I’ll post photos when that happens.



Time Management

It’s amazing how much happens between each post, I went through all of the old posts and fixed them up a little bit.  I gotta work on structure in a way so you can better see what I’m doing with my time and so I can share the resources I’m using.

First off, time management is a real challenge.  I work from home, take classes, balance an overly active social life for a nerd, apply to graduate schools (still), and I have my side projects.  I’ve been really struggling with how to manage everything, each task takes a few days minimum of full concentration to complete.  Once I start a task, I’m golden, but it is hard to prioritize.  I have two white boards in my apartment packed with to do lists, plus three notebooks of the same.  I’ve dabbled in organizing apps, and am now trying Mind42 which is all about spider maps, or concept maps, I don’t know what they’re called but it works visually really well with my brain.  Then again, I tend to pick a program up and drop it just as quick, so I’ll post back in a few days with whether I’m still using it.  I’m tempted to try a tracking program to see how long I’m on what sites, because I know I kill time much better than I spend it and seeing the statistics might help motivate me.

In other news I am very comfortable using GameMaker and I hate it.  It has taken me a long time to really understand the program and the limitations of it.  Really, it helped me understand coding better and game design, and it is great for just getting started.  But every time I wanted to do something, such as publish my Mac-made game to a PC, or make an HTML5 game, it would cost more money.  I already owe a good chunk to student loans, so my interests lie in learning and producing quality DiY games without chipping hundreds of dollars just to see my practice games on a site.  I want to explore Construct 2 next because it is free to make HTML5 games.  I would rather make web-compatible games because they’re more accessible.

I have a new, bigger project I’m dying to work on.  I did some storyboarding, but have a lot more to do.  However, in the interests of learning, I’m trying to complete my other projects first.  One project is that dancing game (now called Queertastrophe), it is almost done but a certain bug kept me from working on it for over a month.  I know how to fix the bug now, but  also have a temporary license to use GameMaker HTML5, so I’m slowly trying to convert/remake the game in the newer version of GameMaker so it can be online.  This is way more time consuming than I want it to be, but I’m forcing myself to finish this before really diving into the next project.  I also half-finished a version of snake where the apple is a pbr can and the snake is a head who’s mullet grows (another game maker experiment).

On Coding

So I’m into my second C++ class (CS163 Computer Science II).  It uses the same book which is nice, and is consistent with the last class, and for the second time my coding teacher is female which is awesome. However, coding takes so much concentration, especially as someone who’s easily distracted/likes to doodle/tries to organize everything in my head.  I am so close to being able to just move into Object Oriented Coding, which is what seems valuable for game design.  That means there’s a code for each object, i.e. the code file for the door tells the door that it’s closed and solid but press space and it will open and be walkthroughable.  Right now all I can do is code programs that store and regurgitate information, which will be helpful, but fundamentals are the hardest to learn.  But looking at what I can do now versus four months ago is insane, code was pure gibberish and now it’s legible.