Quench Trailer

Quench Trailer

March and April were spent bringing Quench up to snuff for the Level Up Showcase and the capstone presentation for Jeff and James. Check out our first trailer and opening scene! (For those interested, Jeff was also interviewed after Level Up, and you can read that interview...
Starling and Feathers for Flash CS6 Mobile UI

Starling and Feathers for Flash CS6 Mobile UI

Recently I’ve been working on an iPad app at my second (third?) job, and I wanted to share some of the stuff I learned about Flash UI design, particularly for those working in Flash Professional CS6. Adobe hasn’t done the most excellent job with creating components or built-in classes for some really important UI standbys (scrollbars, I’m looking at you) so I went looking for some alternatives. What I ended up going with is a quite excellent open-source UI library called Feathers, which runs on the also open-source Starling framework. Unfortunately most of the documentation out there is for folks using Flex or Flash Develop, which are great tools, but I use Flash Professional at work (and before you ask, my work computer is a Mac so I can’t get Flash Develop). It took me a while to figure out even the simplest configuration in CS6 so I thought I’d make a short presentation/tutorial to pass the knowledge on and hopefully help someone out. As an aside, I should point out a few things that may have made this more difficult for me than it would for someone looking into Feathers for a new project. I’m a fairly advanced, but largely self-taught, Flash programmer. I don’t have much outside experience with programming so I do find some of the design patterns that Feathers uses new and confusing. If you are coming from a design background, this is going to be a bit of an uphill battle, but it’s totally doable. If you’re a pro programmer already (like Jeff!) than you’ll probably be just fine. The other problem was that...
The Game Triforce

The Game Triforce

I want to break down game development from a specifically programming perspective. So, let’s talk about this thing we’ve been kicking around the office, which we’re calling “The Game Triforce.” The Game Triforce consists of three distinct parts: Control, Display and Timekeeping.   Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad   Control Control is probably the easiest component to understand. It represents all of the inputs to your system. Controls require an interface (called a human-computer interface) which is how you, the player, communicate with the box that holds the game program. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of inputs: button presses key presses and holds mouse clicks analogue stick hold input text touch and multitouch motion control accelerometer joystick dance pad voice   Display Display, which is the output of a system, is everything in the game that can be perceived by the player. Another way to look at it is as feedback to the player. Display can (and should) involve many senses, not just sight. For example, in a fighting game, if you press the button for a punch, what kind of feedback could you expect? Punching animation on player character Punching sound effect Player character power level dropping Enemy character reaction (block, hit, dodge, etc) Enemy character reaction sound effect Enemy character HP bar dropping   Timekeeping Timekeeping is the last corner on the Triforce. You might not have considered this before, but many aspects of a game require some kind of timekeeping. Timekeeping is necessary whenever an action needs to happen through time. This includes every character, background, or GUI animation, some physics calculations...
Flash Devs FTW!

Flash Devs FTW!

About a month ago I posted a little survey to a few sites to see if I could gather some data about Flash developers for an upcoming class I’m teaching. I left the survey open to any dev who wanted to take it, but since I was focusing on Flash in particular, the majority of people who responded did actually use Flash in some way. Over the last month I managed to collect 124 responses (way more than I was expecting) so I wanted to share the responses with the community so that we can all benefit from the (admittedly extremely unscientific) research. So, let’s see what we have. I’ve visualized each question and I will point out my observations/caveats as we go. The survey allowed respondents to choose as many categories as they felt appropriate. The survey was aimed to game developers so I mostly wanted to see how many people self-identified with that description. In retrospect, I probably should have added a fourth category for web developers. Regardless, about 3/4 of the respondents identify as game devs. The vast majority of respondents use Flash for work. Obviously since I was targeting Flash devs in particular, this ought to be the case and doesn’t reflect the percentage of developers who use Flash in the whole industry, even specifically games. But it’s reassuring that some 100+ Flash developers exist and are willing to take surveys! This question was meant to determine if the studio/workplace had more than one Flash developer or if the person responding didn’t use Flash but a co-worker did. In retrospect this question was somewhat confusing...
In Development: The Danger Zone

In Development: The Danger Zone

Although we don’t have them up on the site yet, there are a few games that our team members have developed and will eventually be shared with you via Axon. Among them is a game I created as part of my Masters degree in Biomedical Communications. That game is The Danger Zone. I created The Danger Zone to be a conversation-based mystery-solving game in the tradition of Carmen Sandiego and Clue. Created to teach teens food safety, players assume the role of a rookie epidemiologist tasked with solving an outbreak among a group of well-meaning but ill-fated teens (no pun intended). By interviewing experts including a physician, librarian, epidemiologist and one of the above-mentioned teenagers, players progress through the story, slowly unlocking the cause of the outbreak so they can report it back to headquarters.   So, I’ll admit that this game is not the pinnacle of gameplay or education; not yet at least. It was my first-ever video game, first game interface, first major coding project and I only had 8 months to go from rationale to wireframe to finished product (with a full course load of other projects to do). What you can play so far is essentially the tutorial level – the game in easy mode. In the coming months we will be restructuring the code to be more modular, as well as cleaning up the interface, adding usability features and adding more sounds and voice acting. We’ll also be adding two more levels which will round out the story and allow for more challenging cases. We’ll post in here as we change things, so you...