ThreeThingGame and the Ricoh2DFramework

Between the 11-12th of June, I went up with a friend and fellow Windows Games Ambassador Aaron Smith, along with a games design student Nathan Holding to the University of Hull for ThreeThingGame, the University’s 24 hour games jam. The premise is that each team was provided three words, and were tasked with making a game that incorporated them. The games would be judged on how well they fit the three things, and the quality of the game overall and the winning teams would get prizes.

This was going to be an interesting event for all three of us, as despite being used to travelling around several campuses for events, Hull was way far out for us. We were also aware that the majority of students there had been at ThreeThingGame before and new how it all worked. However Aaron and I were a bit more confident in what we could pull off together since we went through a games jam one week prior, where we learned to have a proper functioning version control system that the tools can work with, as well as having an actual artist working with us this time. Our three words were Room, Moon and Lune, and from that we made a Lunar Lander style space game where you avoided asteroids and landed on moon bases.

We also had an additional tool to work with, my Ricoh2DFramework. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before on this site, but the Ricoh2DFramework is a framework for MonoGame. The purpose of the framework is to provide classes to assist with graphics, collision, input and audio among other functions. I was actually quite eager to use Ricoh2D in a game development project to see how well it works practically.

Game Development went rather well, and while there were some small issues found in the Ricoh2DFramework, they were easily fixed and all of those changes have been uploaded to the Ricoh2DFramework’s repository. There were also some performance issues that required some work arounds in order to avoid (slow downs, glitches and crashes galore), but in the end we finished the game.

What went right:

  • Proper source control: Using C# and MonoGame with Github is much better than the last games jam at Stafford, where we tried to use Unity with Git. Overall it was a nightmare back then to merge all the changes and ensure the project work. Using a system that is completely text based and readable made the process much more easier.
  • More prepared: Using the Ricoh2DFramework definitely saved some time in developing the game, and even though the framework had issues they were much quicker to deal with instead of having to build everything up from scratch.
  • Having an artist: Definitely enables the team to work on the game while assets are being created, instead of having to be made during or after development where issues can arise.

What went wrong:

  • Didn’t sleep enough: All three of us, me especially, thought we could spend the entire night working on the game. We didn’t. I could barely stay awake after literally staying awake for 24 hours, even with an abundance of food, drink and snacks to help us keep our energy.
  • Technical issues: While some performance issues were most likely due to some of the original code that was developed for the game, we also had numerous unexplained crashes from Microsoft and SharpDX libraries. This was especially bad when the game crashed unexpectedly with an unhandled exception while judges were looking at our game. This could’ve been one of the reasons why we didn’t get a place in the rankings, but since we were still using the Technical preview, hopefully issues would be ironed out afterwards.

Overall, I rather enjoyed ThreeThingGame. It’s a neat idea for a games jam and everyone at the University of Hull was very enthusiastic and eager to make games, which makes it even more impressive as the University doesn’t have a specialist games course unlike Staffordshire University.

Now it’s back to the Procedural Level Editor and my newest game project Gem Finder, where I’ve already started on new features…

Glow Drop DX and Global Games Jam are Out!

Over the last week, I’ve technically had to prepare for two releases, and guess what? Both games are out, and I’ve updated the game menu to include links to them! It’s pretty cool how both games were originally made at 48 hour game jams, and both are being updated as we speak. Feel free to read on about my experiences with Global Games Jam this year, and try out these two releases as soon as possible, all feedback is awesome!

Glow Drop DX

We Are Surrounded

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University and Glow Drop DX Update

So as of today, the first semester of my final year of University is down, two more semesters to go! All exams are finished, and three assignments are done, all that’s left so far are the marks, two assignments due in second semester and a Final Year Project (which I also did a midpoint review yesterday). This is awesome for me as it means more work for the FYP and other game dev stuff, and I can schedule out the other work that I need to do.

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Eurogamer 2013: Day One

It’s now time for the first day of Eurogamer, we started off early and arrived at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre before 9am, and met a huge line of early starters, possibly wanting to get their Call of Duty Ghost Prestige Editions.

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Unity 4.2 and the Windows Contest

So yesterday it was announced that the latest stable release of Unity has come in the form of Unity 4.2. Among all the new enhancements such as real time shadow mapping, Unity is allowing deployment to Windows 8 and Windows Phone for FREE!

This is great news for Unity devs and Windows 8 devs like me and Ben (Nostrum Key), since we can now officially export GridLocked to Windows 8 at no extra cost!

All the info can be found here: http://blogs.unity3d.com/2013/07/22/unity-4-2-has-arrived/

In related news, to celebrate the announcement, Microsoft and Unity have partnered up to create the Unity Windows Contest. Make a game or interactive app in Unity 4, and be in with the chance to win up to $30,000 each on two categories, Windows Store or Windows Phone! Not to mention, there are honourable mentions such as best gameplay, best port or best new game content that can win you a free Unity 4 Pro License with the Windows Store Pro deployment!

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Game Of Life Updated!

Hey guys, I decided to make a quick update to my Game of Life game! It’s currently on the Windows 8 store, thanks to MonoGame for the easy porting process, and I’m currently working on a Windows version for none Windows 8 users.

As you can tell, I’ve simplified the interface, and the Windows 8 version also includes touch controls for drawing and buttons. The keyboard commands still work (Z, X, C and Space) as well as mouse controls.

I’ve also made it possible to change the orientation and resolution, and therefore, change the size of the grid as well. In the regular Windows version I’ll probably change this feature so you can resize the Window, since you aren’t forced into fullscreen.

screenshot_03102013_183345

 

Check out the Windows 8 store version here!

 

Show us your Game Changer

As a Windows Games Ambassador, I think it’s write for me to tell you this!

Show us that you’re a game changer and collect points every step of the way to redeem rewards like a brand new Windows 8 RT Slate. Create the next app phenomenon by building your original and unique Windows Store and/or Windows Phone App.

Get recognised and rewarded for building your original apps. Further, get bonus rewards for migrating your Windows Phone app to Windows Store and vice versa or incorporating one or more Windows Azure Services.

Follow these 4 Simple Steps to Start Earning Points for your Awesome Apps:

1. Register yourself on the UK App Builder Reward Programme website.

2. Build & publish your original & unique app.

3. Claim points by telling us about the app you’ve published and we’ll award points to you accordingly.

4. Referrer your Windows Game Ambassador (which is me)

5. Redeem your points for a range of fantastic prizes and gadgets.

Introducing Our First Ever One Day Special

On Tuesday 19 March 2013, we will be announcing a special one day deal for the Rewards Programme. To make sure you can take advantage of this special one day deal, publish your apps and ensure you claim your points before Thursday 14 March 2013 (less than 2 weeks away) so you will have your all of your eligible points in your account to use. You do not want to miss this one day special! Look out for the announcement for the One Day Special on Tuesday 19 March.

Don’t forget about our Bonus Rewards

The bonus rewards are limited deals where you must fulfil the stated criteria. Once you have fulfilled the criteria, you will be notified by our team and delivery of your bonus reward will be arranged. The bonus reward is exactly that and it will not affect the balance of your points therefore, you will still be able to use your points to claim for your reward(s) of your choice. Nokia have generously sponsored the first set of bonus rewards. You have to be quick to take advantage of this special bonus reward.

Bonus Reward 1: Receive a Nokia Lumia 620 Windows Phone 8 Handset if you are one of the first 20 App Builders who accumulate 100 points from Windows Phone Apps published.

Bonus Reward 2: Receive a Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 Developer Handset if you are one of the first 10 App Builders who accumulate 200 points for publishing Windows Phone apps.