Windows 8 is Awesome, and Inspiration From a Three Year Old

September 25, 2012 by Ben · Comment
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Don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s this new OS coming out next month. It’s called Windows 8. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. Microsoft is putting out a lot of amazing stuff this year, and I was lucky enough to get in the Bizspark program that allows access to all of the software for free. At least, until I make more than $1,000,000 a year. So it will just be this year that I need it, right? ;)

Speaking of Windows 8, I recently decided I was going to put some apps in the Windows Store that would be coming with it. I knew it would be an amazing opportunity, and we had to put the puzzle cube game on hold because my development partner had a birth in the family. Their third kid. He’s a little busy right now, so I thought I’d try to make something else by myself for now.

When I made that decision, I started learning a lot about Windows 8 and how it works. The tools Microsoft has provided are pretty incredible. They really have done an outstanding job of making development as easy as possible. Even still, I knew I needed a bit of help, since I’m not a “real” developer, so I thought I’d give a tool called Construct 2 a try. It is a 2D game engine that runs on HTML5. It’s pretty impressive, and a lot of fun to work with. The fact that it can export directly into a Windows 8 app was what really pulled me into it, though.

After playing around with Construct for a while, I was stuck on what exactly to make. In the process of learning the tool, my three year old son came up to me wanting to blow bubbles, but we didn’t have any bubble stuff. I thought I’d try to make some bubbles for him, as an experiment with the game physics. After making some basic bubbles, I showed it to him. Immediately he reached out with wide eyes and poked the screen, which is sadly not touch screen. The look in his eyes as they lit up seeing those bubbles was enough that I knew what I had to make first.

That was the birth of Bubble Pop!, which was published to the Windows Store today, awaiting certification. I fixed up the bubbles so they looked more like actually floating bubbles, and gave it a few extra features. There is a day or night theme that you can change on the fly, and the music changes with the theme. The music is very soothing, and the game is just relaxing and enjoyable for anyone, not just kids. It’s simple, but I’m pretty proud of it. This is the best thing I’ve made, even if it’s the least complicated. I hope other people agree.

Company updates

August 18, 2012 by Ben · Comment
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I haven’t been as active on here as I would like, if you can’t tell by the lack of posts since 2011. That will hopefully be changing soon.

Little update about the company and direction it’s moving:

Looking back, I’ve realized that I’m just quite up to this stuff all by myself. I don’t think many people are, and I never really expected to put out AAA type games. I was pretty disappointed with the quality of Polarity, and Fireworks 3D, while fun and actually pretty cool(you should go check it out), had some issues that I just wasn’t skilled enough of a developer to work out. What it really comes down to is I needed help.

That is why I’ve brought on a friend who is a better developer than me to help out. We are working on a game that we plan to publish on multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, Android, and iPhone. The working title is Puzzle Cube, and it is a variation on the old Rubik’s Cube style puzzle. The best thing about our game is that it is easier for the every day person to solve. At the same time, the type of person who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute will struggle with getting their solutions down to a lower time or number of moves, which are tracked in the game. There is also a challenge your friend mode that will allow you to solve the puzzle, then hand it off to a friend to see if they can beat your score on the same starting configuration. I’m hoping we can build this into a Facebook version of the game as well, where you can send your friend a request to try to beat your score. We will make sure it isn’t annoyingly trying to get you to send messages to other people all the time, we just want to give people the option. Last, but not least, we will have two difficulties; the traditional 3×3 cube, and a much more difficult 5×5 cube.

While we put the finishing touches on that, game, we’re working on plans for what will come next. It’s gonna be great.

Fireworks 3D

November 2, 2011 by Ben · Comment
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Fireworks 3D is available on the Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore.

You can purchase the game for $.99 or get a free ad supported version on both markets. Links go to free versions.

Halo: Reach succeeded where Fable failed

November 28, 2010 by Ben · Comment
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And no, I’m not talking about the awful attempt at multiplayer in Fable 2.

What I’m talking about is making me feel.

Two notes before I continue. First, spoiler alert if you haven’t played either of these games. Second, I love the Fable series. I want to make that clear. Some of my favorite games.
I am also a Peter Molyneux apologist. I think he’s a brilliant game designer who tries to push the boundaries of what games are. Most people forget that the man basically made the idea of morality in games a common theme, rather than something that would be cool to do, someday, in the future, in a Star Trek holodeck. He did it. He added choice. He gave the player the ability to change the story. There are a ton of games that do that now, but he was the one who really pushed it and made it part of everyday gameplay.
I think he’s still trying to push the boundaries, and I think he gets a lot of flack for it. Which is sad. Yes, he promises a lot that usually doesn’t get delivered, but at least he’s trying. He used to get people excited about games and the possibilities he offered. Now he just stays quiet about them, cause if he says something that doesn’t end up in the final product, everyone jumps up and down yelling how they’ve been Molyneuxed again. (Yes, I really saw someone say that.)
But, like him or not, the man is inspiring. I think it’s really sad that he doesn’t let himself open up about what he wants to do with his games. It was always exciting to hear him talk about the possibilities, even if they stayed possibilities. It made me want to make games that turned the possibilities into realities. Someday, I will, and it’s because of Peter Molyneux.

Anyway, this is already getting long, and I haven’t even gotten to my point. Which is that, even though I liked Fable 2, and am enjoying Fable 3, although I haven’t gotten too far into it, I think it failed in the goal of getting me to feel.
On the other hand, while playing Halo: Reach, I did feel.
It probably wasn’t where you think. When my team was killed, one by one, it was kinda meh. I didn’t really feel a loss or anything. There was one point, though, where you’re being evacuated out of a city, and you’re riding in the gunner seat as you fly out. You have control, but it’s basically a long cutscene showing military and civilians alike being mowed down by the Covenant. I felt. I felt helpless. I felt angry. I really wanted to make a difference. I wanted to find a way to get the chopper to go down and set me down so I could take out to covenant. Time after time I sent a spray of bullets into covenant forces, knowing I was going to fast to do any real good, but hoping I could cut them down a little bit. I felt this, knowing that it was just AI, and they wouldn’t exist anymore once they passed out of my vision, UNSC, civilian, or Covenant. This was all a computer construct. There was nothing real to it, except that I felt. That was real.
That is why Halo: Reach is, by far, my game of the year.

Bugs fixed, ads added.

November 22, 2010 by Ben · Comment
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I should probably note that the ads are only added to the free lite version of the game, not the paid full version.

Found that if you had multiball when you beat a level, then the ball went off the screen after that, it would never know that you lost the ball and would just sit there.
Eek. Pretty bad bug.
This is why you really shouldn’t make games by yourself. I test them when I can, but sometimes I just don’t have time to go through all the scenarios.

I’m already well on my way to getting the next game done. Well… sort of a game. Actually, I guess it’s more of just an app. I’m not really sure what to call it.
It makes fireworks appear on the screen. Fully rendered with 3D particle effects. No, not the glasses kind of 3D.
They’re pretty good looking fireworks, if I do say so myself. I mean… really good looking. It’s pretty amazing looking, actually. That post a few posts back about not having time to play around with Unity. This is the result. I took some time to play around with Unity’s particles and they’re pretty cool. I still haven’t totally figured it all out, and there is some tweaking left to do, but I’m pretty impressed with myself so far.
But here’s the thing, it doesn’t do anything. You push the screen and then it’s pretty. It serves no other function. That’s why I don’t know how to classify it. There’s no gameplay. There’s no application. Just oohs and aahs.
Still fun to make and play around with. Hopefully everyone out there in Android land likes it too. I’ll go back to making real games after this one.

And there’s already an update

November 15, 2010 by Ben · Comment
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Version 1.0.1 of Polarity is updated. Just made a few changes. Updated the speeds on the different levels. I think it was a little too easy before. Also a few UI updates and fixed a bug in exiting with the escape button.

Polarity is out

November 15, 2010 by Ben · Comment
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I released the game to the wild on Saturday. This is a little late. Sorry.

Feeling really nervous about the idea of releasing the game. I think the most difficult part of the process was coming to a point where I said “Okay, this is it. This is what I’m going to release”. Honestly, I would have loved to have another couple weeks to polish things up. The simple fact is, I was never going to have all the time I wanted. Not with going to school full time, working full time, and trying to have a family. I decided that I would get the game to a fully playable state, and not worry about some of the extras I could have thrown in. Later, if I have the time, I can update the game to add things in, but the game itself is complete. I don’t need an online scoreboard. There’s a high score built into the game itself. Things like that. The game works. It looks pretty good. As good as a non-artist like myself could hope to make it. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any game breaking bugs. Obviously more testing will help determine that, and I’ll keep playing and testing and looking for any. But the game is done. It’s out there. It’s available. It’s $1.99, you should go pick it up now.

Unity is awesome

November 11, 2010 by Ben · 1 Comment
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… wish I had more time to play around with all the stuff they have in it.

I think the biggest problem with running this company completely on the side of working all day, along with going to full time school and having a family, is seeing all the potential and possibilities out there, and not really being able to take advantage of them.

My first game, as I mentioned, is nearing completion. It’s fun. It really is. For what it is.
But that’s just it. It’s a simple game. I don’t want to make simple games. I need a team. You can’t get a team without money. You can’t get money without a good portfolio of games. And so, I’m back to making simple, but fun, games by myself for a while.

Anyone have $100,000 to spare? I could make an amazing game with it. I pinky swear.

Almost to beta!!!

November 8, 2010 by Ben · Comment
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Wooohoooo! Little Buddy Entertainment’s first beta is coming this week.

As long as I get a few more things done. Mostly UI stuff. Couple bugs I already know about. Not too big of a deal. I think I will finally hit my release date of the by the end of the month, which has been my release date for the last three months. I’m gonna claim I never said which month.

Just for the heck of it, here’s a pic of my car all dressed up for Halloween. We did a trunk or treat with our church. There is a little pulley setup that you can’t really see that lets someone stand beside the car pulling a rope from behind them to open and close the lid. Scared lots of little kids who had to reach into the mouth to grab their candy. It was great.

Sorry about the website

November 2, 2010 by Ben · Comment
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Okay, so there may be a few people coming here to look at this whole website/blog things. I wanted you to know that I know that the website looks like crap. I just did the free hosting that came with buying my domain, and never bothered with it other than to put the redirect in for the blog and give the site a link here. I’ll make more effort on the website later, but it just hasn’t been worth my time before now.

Yes, it’s ugly. Yes, it looks unprofessional. I know. Ignore it.

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