Thursday, November 20, 2008

Renegade Commanders Breaks 1 Million Plays

Just a couple days before hitting its first month on the web, Renegade Commanders reached 1,000,000 plays. This makes Renegade Commanders the most successful Keith Kong Game ever! The game can currently be found on a total of 348 portals and includes players from 184 countries. The number of plays are still increasing every day so it will be exciting to see where the game will end up. Thanks to everyone who played the game already!

If you haven't played the game yet... well, what are you waiting for?

Play Renegade Commanders

Friday, October 24, 2008

Renegade Commanders is finally released!

That's right! The first full blown 3D RTS has hit the web! Renegade Commanders has been stuck in beta for several weeks but the game has finally escaped into the public. Right now the game can only be found on so you need to head over there right now and give it a shot!

Play Renegade Commanders

Thanks to everyone who helped test the game and provide feedback!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Adobe Flash Camp: Screamo Ball wins Best Game

Hackathon Contest Winners for Flash Camp

First, let me just say that if you could have gone to Flash Camp this last weekend and you didn't . . . you made a huge mistake! On Friday, the camp started out with Adobe giving everyone a free copy of Flash CS4. There was a little drama as we realized it was only a trial version, but apparently they didn't have authentication codes created so we'll be getting them emailed to us soon. Almost immediately I met a couple guys from the Mochi Forum, including Edgar Miranda ( who ended up working with me on Screamo Ball. We all grabbed a table and started brainstorming ideas. The main goal was to pick up on the new features, so I messed around with sound generation all day making random beeping sounds based on an objects position. The others played with Pixel Bender, 3D modeling, and some new tweening techniques. Programming wise the entire first day was unproductive, but the networking, free food, free drinks, free Flash CS4, and free MUNI (the machine on our bus was broken) made it pretty much amazing!

We eventually came up with the idea to use the microphone as a control set for a game. The original plan was to create a first person shooter, where you would fire a laser by going "pew pew" (high pitch) and fire a machine gun by going "dadadada" (low pitch). This didn't pan out since Flash doesn't give you access to the sound properties of the microphone input (Feature Request!!!). The concept had to use amplitude (using the microphone activity level) rather than pitch, so the next idea was to take the basic helicopter game and change it so you used your voice to propel upwards. Thus, Screamo Ball was born. Since the game didn't really utilize any new features, we decided to make the walls 3D. I spent the whole next day developing the physics for the game while Edgar worked on the 3D aspects.

The deadline to present on Sunday came so close that I was actually exporting the final demonstration file as we walked to the stage. Presenting the game was fun, making random sounds in front of 300+ people. The crowd had me beat box to the game, a technique I would hardly recommend.

After we had presented it was really awesome to see what others had done. I felt the quality behind most of the projects reflected how great the Flash Camp environment had been.

Later they announced Screamo Ball had won Best Game! This was pretty exciting as we may get Screamo Ball featured on the Adobe website. They also awarded each of us $25, a noble prize for any poor college student. I've uploaded the game to my website if you would like to give it a shot below!

Screamo Ball
Play Screamo Ball

(Note: You must download Flash 10 Beta)

Overall, I have to say, "Go Adobe!!" They really did a great job of putting this together on short notice and making it a rich experience.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Programmer and the Artist

I was just looking at my personal game design history and I noticed some interesting things. When I started programming last year I was a horrible graphic artist. I wanted to do what I've seen many of you guys doing, outsourcing work to an artist, but I didn't really know anyone that could do the job. As I look back I'm glad I never found an artist. Now, this post isn't putting down that process in any way (I think it's great to cooperate on a project) but is more aimed at encouraging programmers to develop their artistic side. I'ld like to see things shift from being the "Programmer and the Artist" to the "Programmer-Artist".

I think every programmer should dedicate a few hours a week (even a month if that's all you can do) to experiment with graphic design. Play around with photoshop, illustrator, motion, or whatever you have at your disposal. Create vector art, bitmap art, and look for interesting tutorials.

For me the rewarding aspect of designing a game is the presentation, not the concept. It's exciting when I come up with a new concept, but I'm not happy with a game until it looks right.

It's comfortable to be just a programmer (as it is to be just an artist) but some of your best stuff is made when you're pushing yourself. Not that I can claim to be a professional artist, but check out my progress on the logos for my last 3 games (about 6 months)...

Alpha Corp:

Galactic Dodgeball:

To be released over the next few weeks:

Again, it's nice to have someone to outsource work to, but sometimes a game doesn't need many graphics and paying someone to do it for you is just a waste of money. Even if you still work with an artist, knowing a little of both worlds makes communication more clear. It's amazing how fast you can improve. Just focus on color scheme, constantly ask yourself what doesn't look right, and fix it.

So, that's my little encouragement to programmers who think graphic design is a skill left to others.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

RTS open for Beta Testing!

I know finally, right? The game is available to anyone with a account. It's still in a pretty incomplete form but the game is playable and I'ld like some feedback. Note that I'm mostly interested in bugs (not formatting, sounds, graphics) since there are so many unfinished things and stand in graphics. Also, I'ld like to know how intuitively you pick up on the game controls. That being said, if something hits you especially hard, make sure to mention it.

Thanks in advance!

Play the RTS

Don't have an FGL account?

If this is the case I'm sorry to inform you that you'll have to wait a little longer to try the game out. In order to keep the game out of the public I can't release an open version. If you are a developer and/or sponsor you can apply for an account on the FGL website. It's a great place, connecting sponsors with developers and giving you a first look at new projects. It's almost like Regal Cinemas!

...okay, ignore that last comment :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

6.6 Mb and 12,000 lines of code later...

If you thought this meant I was releasing my C&C like RTS, I'm sorry to announce it is still not available for beta testing. However, I'm proud to announce that the game core has finally been completed. I have designed the first mission (with a built in tutorial) and I'm currently working on the rest of the missions. Expect the beta to be released within the next two or three weeks. I would apologize for how long this game has taken me but the time spent has made the game way too awesome.

As a little teaser I thought I would release some artwork from the game. Below is the loading screen containing the symbols for the good and bad team (Sorry, all names related to the game are still top secret to the public).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bringing Command and Conquer to Flash

Who doesn't like Command and Conquer? From little five pixel men running around, to Tanya screaming "Shake it baby!" and single handedly wiping out an entire squad with two pistols, the older versions are the best. In fact, they've inspired me to bring the same feel into the flash world but with an added touch of 3D.

For the past two months I've been working on mastering 3D programming. A while back I developed a first person shooter (see Prototypes) but developing characters and large enough maps proved to slow the game down ridiculously. Playing around I developed a mapping that allowed me to piece together tiled images over a plane. After seeing it I knew I had to develop a strategy game. The very mapping technique talk about is used in the preview images below. The game can run anywhere from 7 to 15 fps, depending on how many units are built. It is programmed to run at 10 fps, so unless you build all the possible units before attacking, you will experience at least game speed.

All soldiers, tanks, and buildings take time to build.

You can select multiple units by creating a selectors box with your mouse or by pressing shift before clicking on another unit.

Buildings repair with the classic wrench. The enemy strategy is not yet perfected, though. If the scenario above were to continue, no units would ever attack the cannon tank. Also, there are no explosions as of now.

Once the strategy is fixed up a little, the graphics are finished, and I come up with a cool name, I'll release a beta for those that are interested. Oh, and I need some voice recordings of people saying things like, "Coolin my engines", "I'll be there", and "They fall like birds!" That's my favorite part of these games!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

San Francisco State Sneak Preview

Yesterday I traveled up to good old San Francisco for the SFSU sneak preview. Let me express my immediate feeling of eagerness to escape my high school captivity after a few moments on campus. The professors presented themselves as intelligent and clear, especially the head of mathematics. I know this sounds antonymical (to use a big word that I don't think exists... yet) but I'm pretty excited to take Calculous. I liked the Computer Science department as well (fitting since that's what I'm planning to major in). There's a good student/professor ratio and a good deal of opportunities both in and outside of the school. The way it was presented (granted this could be blown up a little) it seemed like getting an internship is relatively easy and usually with pay. It feels like the next few years are going to be fun. Well, enough with the parenthesis (which I have chosen to use frequently in this post) and on with my programming. Oh wait, I have to write a business plan for economics (comes to depressing realization of current high school dilemma). It seems I can neither program nor stop using parenthesis. Oh, the humanity!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Introducing Flash First Person 3D

I've been playing around with away3d and thought I'ld share something I've created. It's a first person shooter placed in the sky. You jump between floating rocks and shoot at flying smiley faces (hilarious, creepy, and a little dumb all at the same time). Granted it's not quite a game but hopefully it will become something of use in the near future. It really goes to show what flash is capable of when you put it to the test.

First Person 3D Prototype

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Learning Flash: Experimentation and Google Vs.

When you first get flash CS3 and it arrives at your doorstep, you get really excited, install it as soon as possible, open it up, and start playing around. After a couple hours of pressing buttons, typing invalid code, and Google searching you get the hang of AS3. Give yourself a week and you have your first game. At this point, you've already spent a lot of money (especially if you're like me and need Ps CS3, Ai CS3, and Ae CS3) and flash lessons just aren't appealing enough when you're able to come up with a game on your own.

However, when your dad just so happens to have a subscription to (due to his own Final Cut project) you just have to take a look in there! I spent a good 6 hours and learned more about AS3 than I would in 30 hours with Google searches, annoying forum questions, etc. I'm not saying that you can't learn these things for free elsewhere, I'm just saying it saves so much time that a short term subscription is probably worth it.

An extreme example, which I hope no one else has done, can be seen in my two games (one before taking lessons, one after). When you play Alpha Corp, my first game, you'll notice very stingy controls and predictable enemies. It was programmed entirely without custom classes for objects. I somehow managed to create a single function that managed all 10 enemies/allies, their paths, rotations, bullets, wall collisions, spawning, etc. As amazing a feat as this is, it's quite ridiculous.

If you look at my second game, Galactic Dodgeball, you will see tons of asteroids and several other kinds of objects such as tiny people or explosions. I obviously discovered the power of a custom class attached to individual objects. Also, thanks to the flash calculus lessons, and a little help from my physics teacher, I was able to create my own physics engine from scratch to mimic the attraction of two masses.

In conclusion, has my regards. I admit they only took me so far, but it has really brought my programming to another level. Now to return to my Google searches and forum questions!

P.S. I've taken on a huge project creating a sort of GTA in space. I'm hoping to release some screen shots and a demo in a couple of weeks.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Grande Blog Opening

I've decided to put my thoughts on web servers in the form of blogging. Here I will talk about new projects, changes, interesting encounters with CS3, and whatever else may become my concern. I hope this will become something of use, or at least interest, to other programmers and fans (if you're out there).

Keep checking back,