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 Copyright Eric Pietrocupo

E-Mail: ericp[AT]lariennalibrary.com

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News: Review of year 2016

Page: News.News201612181152AM - Last Modified : Sun, 18 Dec 16 - 1122 Visits

This year has not been as shitty as the previous years for me ... even if John Oliver blew 2016 up on his TV show. Still, things to come does not seems positive, but for now stuff in general was pretty stable in 2016. Now that I finished the school's autumn semester, and that I will be having almost 2 weeks of vacations for the holiday season, I have dressed up a list of things to do during this period which is of course too big for the time I have, so I'll have to prioritize stuff.

Summary of 2016

Well first a recap of what happened, I tried re-reading my previous post to get an idea of things I did. For board games, I tried working on a MOM micro game, it partly works, now I need to design special abilities and I am stuck there, which is my main issue in game design. Even if I love special powers, I think I have to design game where the span is pretty limited. I also fear is that the game could feel very abstract and not be very engaging, I don't like much the objectives either. Recently, I got new ideas of simplifying and reworking on Wrath of the Dark Prince, I will playtest those new ideas soon and give you more feed back.

For video game design, I took a pause of Pixel Board in spring and never had the time to jump back into it, I did not touch wizardry legacy either, I should still be willing to design video strategy games, but I am not sure If I am going to pull out something next year considering school. I might also do a summer class since gardening has horrible this year and I might not pursue next year. I also tried making a new warlock mod that kept the same spirit of the original game, but abandoned the idea as it's hard to debug and have little control on the game's design and it could easily crash the game if I did something wrong.

A side test project I have been working on is making a semi-random music generator in Java using Jfugues. I am still in research and development phase. I managed to make somewhat audible music. Once I get something solid, I could eventually make a user interface for it. I might need this later when making video games.

Things I could be working on in 2017

Here is a quick summary of things I could be working on next year grouped in 2 category:

Board games

I really wanted to make the MOM micro game work, but I am missing a key element, so I'll let it rest for now. Still, the new ideas for Wrath of the Dark prince seems very interesting. Now I tried to integrate how I want the game to look like into the design decisions. I even looked at components on game crafters to see what can be done. Considering that this game does not have many special powers, I would really like it to see it published.

Now I came up with a new design technique idea that I called the Design Plan. It setup the various facets of the game before even starting to design the game. Some facets includes: Experience, Theme, Components, Restrictions, Mechanics, etc. The idea is to define the constraints for the game first and build the game within those constraints since having restrictions stimulate creativity. The most interesting new restriction is Experience where I try to define what I want the player to experience though the game, and the components where I try to visualize how would the game looks like, which components should it be using. While keeping this in mind, try to design only 4S (simple, small, short, social/solitaire) games by using high density components to get a game with a lot of depth even if it has a low production cost. I have no desire to make games with little depth, like party games.

You might be eventually see this idea of design plan though some of my board game ideas on this website. I would like to be able to finish another board game and publish it on game crafters. I also released last year, Eldritch Express which needs a lot of clarifications in the rules. I have also been trying to make some artwork design, find a way to make simple artwork, possibly in inkscape using tracing and coloring, even with no drawing skills. It could end up being faster than digital painting, I would make some test with Eldritch Express's cards for items, spells, etc.

Video games

Recently, I made a command line Ataxx video game in command line using Java which took me around 7 hours. The goal was to give a project idea to my programming class' student so that they could practice further coding. It also made me realize that programming video games is much more rewarding since the feedback loop is different. You really want to see your game works, and when it does, you cannot stop playing. Much more stimulating that making a program that manage employees.

It made me realize a few things, first that the core mechanics of game could be quickly programmed, the complex part is the interface with the user which demands a lot of work and which should be standardized to be reusable and save time (I should look for this with pixel board). Second it gave me the idea that I could make a web site with many of those demo game to help people learn programming. That would demand a lot of work, not sure if it's worth it. Still, programming project could be relatively small and done fast (if inn command line mode). Which is a good thing for me to have no long term commitment once the website is built. Finally, I had new ideas for that Ataxx game like making a web applet, a networked 2 player game, etc.

Now about pixel board, I did not have time to rework on it, I was tired for a long period of time and everything looked very complex. It felt somehow if I did not understand how I ended up coding all this. I was even surprised that my project had almost 100 classes into it. Wow!, I coded that much and now have no clue how it works! I managed to learn a few things in my Java class in school, the 2nd course next year could make me learn a bit more. Still, I got a book on Java patterns to learn more what I could do with classes, something that was not there 15 years ago. I found a few interesting pattern for my Pixel Board project that I intend to use.

So for pixel board, there will probably only be restructuration, redesign, documentation, redefine naming conventions, etc. I might also focus more on hybrid java coding with database design. The thing is, making database games from data in another database is relatively easier than making a board game only from database data. I wanted to make it possible to design a new game without the use of Java, but it might be too restrictive and complex to find a common logic between games especially for the board game like parts of the video game. This is why I might be thinking of making more hybrid games. Where games that have more board game aspect will demand more java code. So don't expect on first release to be able to make new games only by inserting data directly from pixel board itself.

Finally, there is also Wizardry Legacy that I somewhat let down, it seems that coding in java gave me little reasons to come back to this game. Still, as suggested by somebody, I will probably try to put the code on github and see if I can configure code blocks to build the code directly from the CVS. I never worked with CVS before but that could be a good learning experience and I'll be able to code from anywhere.

Oh and by the way, I have a huge amount of video games to play. I Bought a lot of games for cheap on Steam that I never played yet. Xbox live also gives me plenty of free games that I have to try out beside the old games I want to play using an emulator. Playing video games has almost became a full time job where you do not get paid for it.

To think of it, it's all about games is in it! Anything I do is related somehow to games. I think it is the best medium for me because games combine skills and knowledge from many different areas like Logic, Math, Art, Storytelling, which makes it perfect since I am a generalist who knows and do a bit of everything.

So what can you really expect for 2017, I am not really sure, let's just say a bit of everything.

Enjoy and have fun!

Eric P626

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