Monday, April 29, 2013

Expanding the blog, small welcome game and Unity Playmaker

Hello everyone.

Once again sorry for the lack of blog posts but I have some good news and hopefully starting soon I will  be more active here on the blog once again.

As many of you already know by now, the reason I have been barley posting on the blog is because ever since I released "Revolver Finger" for android I took a huge break from working on anymore of my game projects and started to focus on improving my skills. Mostly my 3d art skills because I want to deliver much better quality games from now on. I believe I have greatly improved in many areas since my last game release and think its almost time to get back to work. I have been planning on starting my next game project soon. I don't know when yet, but plan on getting back to developing games sometime in May. Anyway, wont say anything about my next game right now, that's kind of for a different post.

First, before I get back into developing more games, I think this blog needs a little change. So I have been planning on redesigning it a little bit and expanding it. I will be adding some new sections to it soon.One of the new sections that I am going to be adding to this blog is an all new "Welcome" page. This brings me to the next thing I was going to say.

I am going to create a welcome page in a very different way than most welcome pages. I am putting together a very small game project that will be on this welcome page. This will not be a game that is meant to be played for the purposes of playing a game or a game with replay-ability, it is going to be an extremely small game (a single short level, maybe about 1 - 2 mins long) that welcomes users to my blog and introduces me the developer. So its more of a game for promoting my blog. It is an interactive way for welcoming site visitors. So this small game will be on the welcome page and once the user reaches the end of that very short level it will open up my actual blog. Off course users will have the option to skip the whole welcome thing entirely and just go straight to my blog. I understand it would be annoying to have to play that welcome game over each time. But yeah, you may have seen similar ideas like this on sites where they have maybe a short video play or some interactive thing before it takes you to their website.

It will be just a very small, basic super mario inspired platform level. But don't expect too much from it because once again, this is not really a game project, it is just a short single level game for introducing the blog on the welcome page. Its just a small little feature I am adding that is part of the blogs "expansion". So at the moment that is what I am working on. It does not really count as a game project but more of a nice small practice project and also promotional project. Thats how I see it.

Here is some WIP screen shots: This is just a quick prototype version I put together, I created some real simple assets that are very super mario 3d land inspired as you can tell. :)
But yeah, these are not screens from the final build.

Also, here is my most recent original character I created. This will be the character you play as in the very small welcome project.

So what about actually making the next true "Samer Khatib" aka Snowconesolid game?
Ok, so after I change up the blog a bit, redesign/ tweek it a little to look better and create that welcome project I will probably then be ready to once again start working on my next true big game project. So as I said a little earlier, I plan on going back to developing games sometime in May, most likely near the end or half way through May. Well see. Maybe I might start earlier. Depends on how things go for me.

One final piece of news I want to put out there is from now on for all my future game projects I will most likely be using the popular Unity add-on/tool "PlayMaker" for developing all of my games. I just recently bought it from Unity's asset store and think its great. I am still new to it and learning how to use it but have already played around with it and so far I am impressed. For those of you who use unity you may have heard of or also use playmaker for your development. It is actually one of the most popular add-ons for unity and a lot of unity developers use it. For those of you who have never heard of it let me tell you about it. Pretty much it is a visual scripting tool. It allows you to build a game using these nodes. So pretty much you don't need you write a single line of code. I think this is a very good alternative way for developing games. If you have ever used blender's game engine, it is similar to playmaker. Blender's game engine uses logic blocks.

So why use playmaker for development?
There is a whole bunch of advantages of developing a game with playmaker instead of coding up the entire project.

First of all you save a lot more time on developing the actual game. I like coding and all but at times it is extremely time consuming and can be tedious to type lines and lines of code. I know first hand because I have three years of programming experience and coded all of my previous projects.  Playmaker allows you to rapidly develop your games saving a lot more time. This is actually the most important benefit of using playmaker over coding and is a major reasons as to why I decided to make it part of my workflow for developing games. Now, I can spend all that extra time focusing more on the art side of the game.
As a solo indie game developer, time is the most important thing because you do not have a team. You don't have some one to work on the art or the animations, the programming, etc. You need to create everything yourself and that takes up an extremely great amount of time. With Playmaker however, you can now save a ton of time you would of spent on typing lines of code and use it for something else.

Don't get the wrong idea now, I am making it sound like playmaker just magically makes the game for you. Its still programming in some way, but just visual node based programming. But yes, it does make things a lot easier and quicker.

You would think that people who buy playmaker are people who do not know how to code at all. This is not true. Actually a lot of programmers like using playmaker. If you have playmaker and know how to actually code than playmaker is a hundred times more of a powerful tool because you can code in your own custom actions for use with playmaker. I definitely plan on coding in my own custom playmaker actions for my future projects. So say for example I needed to create some kind of vehicle movement for a simulator of some sorts but playmaker's library does not have such an action. Since I know how to code, I can just write my own custom action and then add it to playmakers library so I can use it as a node whenever I want. I believe that visual programming is the future of coding. Have to keep up with the times. Although I know a lot of programmers will disagree with me.

If you are a solo dev or with a team and use unity I highly recommend using playmaker for your development. Whether you don't know how to code or are an programming pro, playmaker is an excellent tool for any skill level and is extremely effective for rapid development.

Anyway, thats all I have for now. Sorry for the huge blog post but I had a lot of things to share this time since I am not posting here as often. I look forward to getting back to developing games again real soon and hope to have some great releases this year.

Friday, April 12, 2013

spending more time

Hey everyone.

Once again, sorry for the lack of updates and blog posts on here. I have been spending a lot of time still training on 3d modeling. Actually, I have been spending even more time than usual training and improving my 3d modeling skills and that reason is because I have recently become a citizen member over at which is a excellent site that teaches you professional 3d modeling, animation, concept art and what not. Cgcookie is a big network that is split up in many sites. Depending on what you want to learn there is a separate site for each subject. I have been spending all of my time on Blender cookie and unity cookie.

The tutorials they offer are great and give you a much better understanding on a subject. They have a lot of free tutorials on the site, but their best tutorials are their citizen tutorials. These are tutorials you can watch only if you are signed up as a citizen member. You do have to pay for a citizen membership, however its a really cheap price to pay. You just have to pay $10 bucks and then you have a citizen membership for 30 days. I think it is very well worth it because you can just download every single tutorial and resource they have to offer for citizen members before your 30 days is up. So, for anyone who wants to greatly expand their knowledge on something such as 3d modeling, game development with unity, concept art, etc I highly recommend checking out CGcookie, even if you dont want a citizen membership, their free tutorials are also fantastic.

Sorry for being a bit off topic. Im making it sound like the reason I am posting today is to advertise Cgcookie. The main reason I am here is to just let people (if anyone reads this blog, I know it gets a good amount of hits every once in a while) know that I have not abandoned the blog or game development or anything because I know its been pretty dead around here for a while. But hopefully soon, I will start revealing some of my upcoming projects. So stay tuned.

So yeah, I am still just kind of focusing on improving my 3d modeling skills. Now I have a ton of tutorials to watch through to further improve but I am still here.

I am planning on starting my next game project maybe sometime in May.