Its been almost 2 years since I last provided an update on what I have been doing. Today I want to finally share and update this post with my thoughts and progress on my career.
I was able to land my first job under my mentor as a contractor for Carnival Cruise Lines by helping create a new casino app for them. The primary games I helped push was Pirate King's Lottery and Queen Sea Poker. with most of my time going towards Lottery. Poker was done earlier in the development life and was done mostly by a co-worker, but lottery was my baby that I was able to take care of for the last 2 years.
It was extremely humbling to work on a project like that and day in and out make that my primary focus. While I know this isn't the biggest game in the world, I can still say I did that and show everyone work of mine. While the project has died down in terms of work at the moment I still want to get back in and try to continue my path to making something great. I know if I keep doing what I love and keep giving the passion that I have for games that one day I will get to a point of true success.
With my journey developing PKL I met some really amazing talent and networked with people I never even knew I could. I am proud to have made it this far and experienced everything that I have. On top of all that It really is a great feeling to finally say I can move on to another project.
While working on PKL I was also lucky enough to find myself working with some highly influential people in Orlando, such as Patrick Khan at the Snap! space. I was able to work with him and other developers to put out another app in the app store called CITYunseen. While this wasn't as high up on my list of amazing apps that I want to publish it really was a fun experience to work with AR and artist to bring some really cool art pieces to life. While this job had many troubles in it's development cycle, I was still able to learn and overcome all of it and put out the best app I could.
With that being said there was a quote I read from a book:
“Making a game is like constructing a building during an earthquake or trying to run a train as someone else is laying down track as you go...”
― Jason Schreier, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories
This quote could not ring more true with both projects. While in college it was really ingrained in me that games have some good foundation to start building on and that you really have a good plan while going into these projects. I could not have been more wrong. Game development is like the wild west right now with creative juices just overflowing and talent being told how and when to do things. It really is kinda a mess and developers really get the short end of the stick for all of it. Not to say there isn't good management or leads out there but they are just so hard to come by and when they do come around stake holders or investors don't like the ideas that come out of them because they don't make them money in the short term.
I really hope that the state of the game industry changes direction soon cause the amount of people trying to stick their fingers into the money pot where they shouldn't be is becoming overwhelming. One company that I am excited to see where they go is Bungie. They separated from Activision which seems to be one of those greedy hands, which means that Bungie no longer has to appease the hand that was feeding them. What does it mean for this company in the future? I don't know but if I know anything about Bungie is that they are community people who wan their gamers to really love the games they make. I hope the best for them and that they really get to make their next best game with the passion and dedication they have with all their others. Here's to one day hopefully being a part of all of that.
With all this being said, I'm currently out of a contract looking for more work and trying to see what I can accomplish in my spare time. I am currently trying to see how streaming works and learning how to market myself better when it comes to job hunting. Both of these have given me some hope as to what I can do to make a difference in this world and just how big you can really dream. Hopefully something comes from all of it soon.
After a much needed break from work and just life in general, I am getting back into the groove of learning and developing new ideas. I also built up the courage to finally join a month long game jam and try to make some cool ideas with a teammate. I have never joined a game jam due to a busy schedule but now since I am done with college and working half the day, I figured this would be a good time to try and get some ideas flowing as well as try to participate in a community that I have come to love.
This jam is hosted by a YouTuber I mentioned previously, Matthew Palaje, who has been hard at work trying to get a good steady crowd to learn and become better in game development. I love his mentality and the small extra clips he does for the community that has grown around his videos. I, as a developer, have achieved so much by just trying to watch each segment he puts out as well as come up with some of my own ideas to try at some point when I complete these games with teams I have started.
While up in the mountains of Wyoming I did a lot of spiritual searching and brainstorming as to games I want to make and as well as played quite a few mobile games. Some of the top games I play on mobile are not about actually keeping the players attention, but keep them coming back time after time in order to complete small goals that will eventually lead to a bigger goal. By making these small goals easily achievable players are more tempted to play and leave and come back later to try their next task. I already understood World of Warcraft's armor treadmill system but this really takes it to the next level. I think if I can really come up with a design that really rewards player for 10 minutes of play and make them feel like they are progressing to a bigger goal with small accomplishments, I could have a potential top mobile game. The problem with games like that is they need a lot of extra content that can't be easily recycled which is pretty much any games developer's dream for production. Smallest amount of work for large amount of content.
With this in mind I have a potential contract I can put forth my efforts on as a day job as well as two games that I want to try and complete within the next month or two. Hopefully the efforts of all these projects don't go to waste and I can present these as good portfolio pieces to future employers.
This week I started working in Unreal again. This time I wanted to play around with editing a scene and getting more experience creating a moody scene. Ultimately I want to be able to set up a scene to create either an arena shooter or a horde mode type game. I think this will be my ultimate goal after this month. The upcoming weeks I will be out of town and with out a development computer so I am going to try and keep a book of design ideas and try to fill up. I think will help with the process of going from an idea to a prototype in a quicker manner.
The scene I have started to create this week is coming along nicely and has a simple first person camera with movement to explore the scene. The skybox is a little to bright and blue for the sake of the scene which I hope to change out later but the post processing effects really do give the over all scene a nice dark and rainy feel. I did realize that even adding some small elements like rocks give the player some direction as to were they have been and where they are going and even can use them to give a large contrast against a background. Even just as a small detail, they add a lot of life to a scene.
After trying to added some rain puddles I ended up finding a bug with Unreal and possibly have to restart over. I am sort of glad though so I can actually start design on a full level set up for either the arena shooter or the horde mode. Hopefully over the few weeks I can get some sketches done for the design and implement them in.
In the mean time check out this wonderful article about getting into the game industry and making that first step after college.
Advice for Game Dev Grads of 2017
Advice for Game Dev Grads of 2017
In a complete 180 I started to work on my mobile app from earlier this year. I started off with small goal of just putting together something for employers and other people to see on the app store. I finally published a decent version earlier today. I still think there can be some more polishing to the final product but for now its a complete experience that I am happy with. I might add a few more features to app currently but I kinda wanna get started on a new project in unreal.
I've come to learn a lot while developing both this mobile app and the C++ asteroids in the last few months. I've tested my limits and have become comfortable with a decent pace as to which I can now get work done at a steady pace. I need to apply what I have learned from these project and proceed forward and try to create more prototypes and just put out what I can make. I have been sitting around on too many ideas and not just jumping in.
With this in mind, I feel like a lot of what life has to give is slowed down just due to the fact that I haven't tried to start or I'm to afraid to be the first to try. Failure is something I wouldn't necessarily say I am scared of but I do like to put my efforts in something that is more prone to succeed so my time isn't wasted. I am however learning that just jumping in and trying to carve something as you go does get a nice foundation started but a planned idea has a lot more starting force and easier to create around.
One of the thoughts that stuck with me this week is that games should be designed around the player and the mechanics of the player and not the level. In my own terms that means that we as designers should create a fully fleshed Character Controller and put all the mechanics into it that we want the player to experience then build the rest of the level and the game around that. This really puts into perspective of how games should be designed because you spend the entire game with only the main character and if the controls feel wonky or confusing how can you expect a player to stick with it more than a few moments.
The way I designed my mobile app kinda hits home with this thought. The first thing I did was make sure that the player controller felt normal for a mobile infinite jumper and from there I built the obstacles around him. I made sure that obstacles were all the correct height and that the players doesn't feel cheated when playing.
If you feel like checking out the app click the link below or check out a few screenshots from the game itself, I'll be adding this soon to another section in my portfolio for personal projects.
Thanks for reading,
urrently I have been working on a small C++ project in order to brush up on syntax and learning as much as I could. I will be teaching kids out in Seattle at the end of July how to code in C++ as well as design aspects of creating a game. I still need to come up with a few ideas to get them started but I'm glad I have taken this month to just program a very simple design of Asteroids. I keep thinking of ways to improve the code and better ways to have the code optimized. The biggest thought right now is rewriting the entire main part of it and making it more modular to create a game that can be set to multiple difficulties. I still need to figure out how I want to do the main menu and set up the beginning of the game.
Next time I write code in this fashion I want to make sure I set up the entire thing so I can be way more modular and be able to thrown into any other projects with only needing a header or cpp file. It's definitely a bit harder coming back from a game engine to only code. It makes you realize how much back end stuff a game engine like Unity and Unreal really does for you.
However I really have enjoyed watching a youtuber by the name of Matthew Palaje, and with this have decided that my next personal project will be in Unreal engine. I tried before but really wasn't inspired because I just got out of college and was stressed with so much going on during Christmas. I now have a decent workflow to keep myself on track with learning new tricks and designs, which inspire me to do so much more. I really wish I could have started designing and just playing around a lot more while I was in college compared to what I did. I think now as a graduate and constantly looking for a job and see what people are wanting and looking for I can really try to push myself to learn more and tailor my learning experience to what I want and figure out how I can make myself better.
I'm still figuring out how I can make this blog and website better so if you have any ideas or comments let know. I love feedback.
Thanks for reading,
C++/SFML Astroids on Github: https://github.com/foxrythem/SFML_Astroids
Finally got around to buying my name as a domain to make portfolio finding easier and passing out my portfolio so much easier. I'm going to try and post as much as I can on here and see what I can get done as I grow as a developer and a designer. Even after graduating now I can see huge steps in my development and designs in my games. I need to try and get into a habit of keeping this updated. There should be a ton of updates in late July as I travel off to Seattle to teach at an ID Tech camp. I will be teaching C++ to a younger generation. While I am a bit nervous I am constantly reminded by my lovely girlfriend that it's something big for me to do and it may not seem like much, I think it's a huge step forward for both my career and life in general to just go out and see what I can achieve.
Once I get the main layout of the site completed I'll be posted links to videos and sites that I find a huge help in both my learning and design process or that I just find interesting overall. Comment below Let me know if you have any requests for material or any ideas on how to improve. I love feed back it's one of the best ways to become better.
Josh is a game designer in Orlando, who recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Game Design degree. He's primarily a programmer and designer but has a background of digital art. While hes not creating, designing, or playing the newest games, you can find him out on the water wake boarding or bar tending at his day job.