Full Indie Summit 2016 (Vancouver)

I had a great time at the Full Indie Summit in Vancouver and wanted to share my quick notes/thoughts.

Effective Audio in Game Design – Kevin Regamey (Power Up Audio)

Kevin was one of the most charismatic speakers. The talk focused on audio designers answering the question of how audio enhances game design. The quotes were good and covered many genres. Kevin was a entertaining speaker and is well connected. Game recommendations was Thumper which I will have to check out.

Beyond the Zombie Shooter: Unexplored possibilities in VR – Kayla Kinnunen
This was more of an inspirational talk  on the possibilities of doing things in VR and how it is so new. I liked the description of where we are on the timeline in VR right now. The talk was a good call to action to do more than a zombie shooter. Several great examples of games that are doing more now.

Firewatch: Design Constraints in Narrative Exploration Games
The designer usually worked on complex systems before Firewatch. For this game he ended up exploring the issues of open world narrative design. Some interesting discussion on dialogue systems and a lot of discussion of player agency. Good coverage of handling the impact that the player has on the world.

Smooth as the Titanic: What scuttled Brigador’s Launch? – Hugh Monahan
This was my least favorite talk of the conference. This was a reality check kind of talk. Sharing an honest and humble evaluation of mistakes made was still good. Seeing that they’re still pushing to improve helped the talk. Sharing the list of their planned improvements was good.

Let’s get physical – Lessons from the real world – Zach Gage
Interesting fast prototyping with real world things like cards and dice. I liked one of his comparisons between the number of apps available and the number of traditional card games. This talk had a great breakdown on designs with simple tools.

Behind the Scenes: Making Mixed Reality Trailers – Kert GartnerThis talk focused on what goes behind the creation of mixed reality trailers. It highlighted creative solutions for in engine cameras to help with generating marketing material.

Take a Walk(ing Sim) on the Weird Side: a guide to #altgames and you – Claris Cyarron
This was great exposure for me to an area of gaming that I’m not all that familiar with. Dealing with more adult and also alternative lifestyle and culture games.

What’s going on in the Hardware Game Scene – Robin Baumgarten
I was a bit late for this talk but what I did see was pretty awesome. This was entertaining and a different type of creation than I’ve seen. The opportunities with hardware design and gaming are amazing. Way more accessible now than ever before (3d printing, custom boards etc.).

The sidestep or How to skip the things that don’t work – Steve Swink
This talk was great.  I would have called it “An autodidact journey to make better quality games”. The talk focused on methods for practicing to get better at things. Applying scientific studies on learning to breaking down other’s designs was wonderful. This resonated with me and I will be applying the principles. I recommend this talk and it also has a reading list.

Making Games in Four Spatial Dimensions – Marc ten Bosch
Visually fascinating. It was great to see math brought into a game design in an accessible way. I am not sure how much extra depth is in the experience beyond the talk. I think I’m going to have to play this one to see the depth of the experience. And re watch the talk after playing.

What Makes an Indie Hit? How to Choose the Right Design – Ryan Clark
This talk seemed to be an applied example of Steve Swink’s recommendations on what happened to the Brigador team. This talk covered a great list of making sure your design has hooks that stand out and follow current market trends. The message here was much more positive than the Brigadors one with good examples. Learning from failure is important but so is studying trends of success.  Avoiding what happened on Brigador.
The conference setup was great. Demos setup after the conference let you see what the local community was up to and included the hardware games. The sense of community was amazing.

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Jedi Academy and Jedi Outcast Code Released

It is really sad to see Lucas Arts close. So many of my first game experiences were titles from that studio. The X-Wing and Tie Fighter games as well as the original Dark Forces will stick with me forever. I wish everyone on the Lucas Arts and ILM teams the best of luck in finding great places to use their talents.

I was also very happy to hear that Raven had decided to release the source code for Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy. I haven’t taken a look yet but since I did a break down of some id tech based games a long time ago I thought I would at least run a line of code check on the source.

Lines of Code

Jedi Academy: 815785

Jedi Outcast: 762082

Someday I might come back and finish a graph comparison but these games are about 2-3 times the size of Quake 3! So if this sample point is representative games from the 90’s to early 2000’s grew substantially.

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Houdini 12.5 Released

I occasionally play with Houdini and with the release of Houdini 12.5 I had to play with it again. Check out the FXGuide article for some feature videos! I’m not sure yet why I would need clouds for one of my games, but it is amazingly fast to generate and render them! I might try my hand at some skyboxes or something like that with them. Since you can play with it for free I highly recommend going to sidefx.com and giving the apprentice version a try!

The below took me about 3 minutes to setup and maybe about the same amount to render. When I can sit down for a solid hour I hope to make something good!



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Updating to Google High Replication Datastore

My main tutorial site content just switched from igamemakerdata.appspot.com to igamemakerdata-hrd.appspot.com. I hope this will not impact anyone out there and I think I have updated all the links to point at the new location. Will this change anything? No, but google may turn off my old site soon so I had to do this update.

This seemed like a fairly painless transition to me but if you see any issues please let me know!

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Dust: An Elysian Tail™


It is awesome to see games being made by one person. Check out this article on Dust: An Elysian Tail. I love that this was created by an animator that learned how to program during the 3.5 years that it took to make the game. I haven’t played the game yet but I am looking forward to it and will bump it up my play list to see what a one person game studio can achieve.

This also makes me wonder if it is more challenging to pick up art/animation or programming. Either of them takes a serious investment in time but I think that code is easier to copy and learn from and get feedback on if it is “good”. If I was guessing I would say that coding will become easier in the future and art will largely remain a function of time and talent. Still…more people will be interested in doing the art than in the programming so the supply and demand rules will probably still favor programming as a profession.

Regardless, I hope that more and more people play with both and I hope Dean Dodrill’s game inspires me and others to try harder. Expect a review when I do get to play it 🙂

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Houdini – Dipping my toes in the water

I finally downloaded Houdini on my main machine and did a quick FLIP fluid simulation and render using image based lighting. This was a quick experiment in learning the FLUID workflow and playing with Mantra a little bit. I am interested in exploring Houdini’s workflow to make some 2D tile based assets and for some FX work on a project I have in mind. 

Check out the video here


I’m not sure how to find out how many particles were used, but the scene took about 10 minutes to sim and roughly 1 hour to render at 640×360. Makes me wonder if I should get a new CPU as my old Q9550 didn’t really tear through the scene. If a Houdini expert reads this I would love to know more about showing the particle count generated and being able to control the number of particles generated.

Houdini is a heck of a lot of fun and I hope to post some more quick tests soon.

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Getting back on the blogging horse

I have been consuming more tutorials than creating things over the past few weeks. I intend to review some of the tutorials that I have been doing but I also want to focus on creating some interesting renders. Hopefully I’ll have some more fun to post soon.Image

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Learning C++11

Learning C++11 reminds me of meeting a friend you haven’t seen in years where they seem the same at first but as you catch up you find out how much has really changed. In C++’s case the changes are subtle but significant. Rather than point out the differences myself I thought I would list out my favorite resources I have found for learning C++11 and would love to hear more about where you are learning it. The following is an attempt at doing what you should look at in order.

  1. The Biggest Changes in C++11 (and why you should care)
  2. GoingNative 2012 – Day 1 Keynote – Bjarne Stroustup – C++ Style
  3. GoingNative 2012 – Day 2 Keynote – Herb Sutter – C++11, VC++11 and Beyond
  4. The New C++ (C++11) – By Scott Meyers
  5. After the above I would go through all the content there is on Channel9 by Stephan T. Lavavej

That should be a few hours worth of learning. Obviously you need a compiler to play with these features, check out the big supported feature list here or here. I have played with the language features in Visual Studio 2011 Beta and I will soon be upgrading my Mac to 10.7 so I can enjoy the benefits of C++11 on my mac as well with Clang. On 10.6 I can use the language features but it doesn’t seem to allow linking to the standard libraries with it. 

To me the biggest language changes are in how much easier doing multicore and multithreaded programming is with things like PPL or Intel’s TBB libraries. 

I have also had some fun checking out the Intel ISPC compiler and may do a subsequent post on it as well.

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Blender/BMesh/3Delight Ship Turn Around Test

After downloading Blender 2.63 and Matt Ebb’s 3Delight blender plug-in I decided to do a quick sketch of a space ship. This took me about 10-15 minutes to model and for some crazy reason 3 days to render. This was my first experience with BMesh and Renderman (3Delight). I did run into a bug where my model had holes in it after exiting and reloading but other than that I think Blender may replace Silo as my modeler of choice.

For a good time modeling grab the following:

  1. Blender 2.63
  2. 3Delight/Blender
  3. 3Delight
  4. BSurface
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Blender 2.3 Released! May replace Silo for my modeling needs.

To date I have been using Silo for most of my polygon modeling. Today I gave Blender 2.3 a try with BMesh and it was wonderful. Not only did I get BMesh, but I also downloaded a 3Delight exporter from Matt Ebb that worked fairly easily. Here is a 5-15 minute space ship mesh sketch that I whipped up to test 3Delight and BMesh.

I’m going to try and focus a bit more on my art skills in the next few weeks.

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