New Project, New Screenshot – Slay the Beast

While I may not be updating my blog very often lately, I assure you that I’ve been staying busy.

As proof, here’s a (very) early work-in-progress screenshot of my current indie game project, Slay the Beast:
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Slay the Beast is a versus fighting game where one player controls a huge boss-level monster. While the other player controls a puny (but respawning) hero. The sprites are from Oryx Design Lab‘s Hifi Gothic Set and animation is done with Spine, from Esoteric Software.

The game is still at an early stage of development. Heck, I just started this project a few weeks ago! However, I plan on making WIP builds available soon. Stay tuned for more news.
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Burnout, Not Paradise

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So, yeah.
The last few months have been pretty darn busy. Hobby-life, work-life, personal-life, everything seemed to peak right about the end of February. I’ll be honest. I’m feeling pretty tired. I may even be feeling, dare I say it: burned-out.

Well, not full-on “burned-out” I don’t think. That’s actually a pretty major state of affairs. Still, I’m starting to notice some warning signs and I’ve had trouble bringing 100% of my power to bear on any task lately, be it was work or at home.

Now, the advice I’m about to give is not based on any particular professional expertise. Indeed, I’m about as layman as they come. But, I am someone who has worked himself to the point where I had to take a stress-induced leave from work so I thought I’d share some of the signs I watch for with regards to my emotional health.

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#OneGameAMonth Update: Itano Alpha Flight

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Okay, okay. I’m about two weeks late but I finally finished up my February #OneGameAMonth entry. In my defense, I did have a confluence of life and work events knock into my schedule. But, that’s neither here nor there. I said One Game a Month.

As I mentioned previously, my goal for February’s game was to capture some of that Itano Circus feel. With that in mind, I even went so far as to name the game “Itano Alpha Flight”. And now the game is available for you to play.
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#OneGameAMonth Status Report

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It’s February and I’ve been at #OneGameAMonth for about 6 weeks now, so I thought it was about time to comment on how it’s going.

Before that though, a few words about why I’m doing #OneGameAMonth (#1GAM for short) in the first place. Here is the mission statement from my #OneGameAMonth profile page:

My biggest hope in joining #OneGameAMonth is to use it as a chance to challenge all my assumptions about how games should be made. By holding to the seemingly impossible goal of One Game a Month, I hope to find what I need to change (and what I’m unwilling to sacrifice) in order to make more, better games. Also, making friends and becoming AWESOME!

My main goal is to challenge myself to approach game development in ways that I haven’t before. So, this is how am I doing so far: Continue reading

Seeing the Whole Elephant

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There’s this old parable about several blind men and an elephant. There story goes something like this: Asked to describe an elephant each blind man grabs a part of the elephant then proceeds to describe what they felt. One feels the elephant’s tusk and describes an elephant as a hard, bony creature. Another feels it’s leg and describes the elephant as being stout like a tree trunk. Yet another grabs the elephants tail and promptly describes the elephant as being like a snake. Naturally, once they start sharing their findings, an argument ensues about what an elephant really is.

Each of these poor men is being totally honest in their description, but the end result ends up being divorced from reality by the limits of their own perception. The moral of the story is for one to be aware of where their limited perception (or preconceptions) may hide information from them. In more colloquial terms, it’s about learning to see the whole picture. Continue reading

Guerilla Gamedev

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As much as I enjoy indie game development, it doesn’t pay the bills. Not by a long-shot! Being that I’m married, have a 2-year old son and live in one of the world’s most expensive cities, I need to have a day job. I’m fortunate enough to have a job making games for a living, but that still doesn’t stop me from having that indie gamedev itch.

So, with a family and a full-time job, where do I find the time to make games on the side? The answer is: wherever I can. Here are a few of the ways I try to make the best of my limited gamedev time. Continue reading

Three Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Using the UDK

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Boy, Unreal Engine 3 is a gift that just keeps on giving. I’ve been using Unreal in a professional capacity for a few years now (with occasional forays into UDK-land to see how I fare without source code) and I still find out about new features all the time. Game development being what it is, those discoveries are often answered with a heartfelt: “That’s great! I wish I had known about that 6 months ago…”

So, in the spirit of helping out others using Unreal Engine 3 or the UDK, here are three features that I wish I had known about when I first started using Unreal. Continue reading

On Game Music


You know, there is some really great game music out there. Really memorable stuff that can instantly transport you to a different state of mind.

Here’s the thing though. While talking with some fellow game devs the other night, we got onto the topic of old 8-bit / 16-bit era chiptunes and how great we thought they are. Then, we started talking about how, despite all the iconic tunes we could remember from that era, we couldn’t think of nearly as many great examples of video game music from more recent games.

That got me wondering. Why did we have so many fond feelings for the game music of yesterday, but not nearly as much for the music of today’s games? Is it just nostalgia at work, or is there something else at play?
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OOP Stand Alone Complex


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against object-oriented programming (OOP). More often than not, it’s a valuable method for modeling data and logic in games. However, because of its near-total dominance of thinking regarding programming in games, I often find myself playing the anti-OOP advocate in conversations at work.

You see, there are times when designs that look “right” when viewed through an OOP lens turn out to be ill-suited to solving certain problems in game programming. One of the major causes of this is the tendency of OOP to encourage thinking of problems in terms of single data objects. Often this works because handling multiple instances of an object is a natural extension once you know how to handle a single instance. This isn’t always the case however and it’s common for OOP-oriented programmers (OOPOP?) to overlook cases in which it would be better to think of processing data as a gestalt as opposed to as lists of stand-alone objects.

To clarify this idea, I’ll share a recent experience with some code at work. Continue reading