Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reactor Playtesting

This is an overview of playtesting Reactor. I was pretty amazed at how far the game had progressed since it has just been redone. The movements in the game are very smooth and responsive and I liked how the direction I was moving affected the cannon shots. All of the improvements that can be done are already listed in the "Things to add" so I don't really have any suggestions. The game is definitely coming along. Try the game yourself at

Jurassic Survival Review

The Jurassic Survival game was excellent. If reminded me of GeoDefense in that it's a tower game, but has a much better theme. I also really liked running out and trying to grab the gold and powerups. The game plays really well and functions as expected. You did a really good job of building an intuitive interface. I definitely think you can sell this as a mobile game should you choose to go that route. The only real suggestions I have is that adding some dinosaur sounds would enhance the immersive aspect of the game. Also, a few more sounds might make it a little more "juicy" (I'm sure you thought of this, but there isn't anything real to criticize). Great game. Try the game yourself at

Monday, December 10, 2012

Prototype 3 - Portal Through Time

The focus in this prototype was cleanup, bug fixes, and the storyline. An opening screen was added to tie the storyline into the gameplay (as well as provide instructions on how to control the character). The following bugs were also fixed:

- Leaping out of the top section of the screen caused the character to die
- The enemy in Level 2 jumps with the player
- The portal was visible before the tiki was retrieved
- The collision on several objects was off

Several graphics were also cleaned up (including rounding the edges of the "floating islands") to try to tie the game's feel together

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sims 3 Review

Sims 3 (with Pets Expansion) is a truly immersive game. My daughter (who is 11) loves this game so we had it around the house. I decided to sit down at her computer and give it a spin. I have played Sims before, but not since the original version that was released around 2001. Sims 3 is much more involved and seems to be the equivalent of an MMO to the original's single player missions. The first huge change I noticed was that I can go all over the place. The original game was based around life inside of your house. This version, though, allows you to go downtown to the library for a book, a diner to eat, and so on. I was pretty amazed by everything that is going on in the city with the NPCs I watched.

Another big difference was the job. If I remember correctly, in the original version it just showed you leaving for work and you would basically stare at your house until you came home (which could be sped up by increasing the rate of time). In Sims 3, you actually get to go to work. Since I was a fireman with my new character, this involved riding on the fire truck and hanging out in the firehouse (which even had a fire pole).

I can definitely see why my daughter likes this game. I had only planned to play for an hour or so because I wanted to finish this review, but ended up playing all night. The open aspect of the game has definite replayability, as the player can choose many different paths for their character. Sims 3 is a great game and is worthy of its lofty sales numbers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Slower Speed of Light Review

A Slower Speed of Light is a very interesting and well done game. The object of the game is to help a young child slow down light by collecting orbs present in a small village-like area. This area has a Silent Hill-type of feel with others wandering around in a trancelike state and ominous music in the background. The game has classic first player controls, with keyboard keys controlling motion and the mouse controlling direction. The only downside for me is that it gives me motion sickness if I play too long. The physics on the games are excellent (as you would expect from MIT) and the graphics are clean and interesting. The scenery gets even better as you collect more orbs and continue slowing light down. The changing colors will make you feel like you are in the Northern Lights. Overall, an interesting and unique game that is definitely worth playing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MargaritaVille Review

MargaritaVille is an excellent casual game in the vein of MySims and other "open world" games. While you do have some objectives you need to complete, my main enjoyment in the game came from simply wandering around and exploring. The graphics reminded me of the Tropico games, which isn't a bad thing. They definitely felt like something you would expect from a game named MargaritaVille. MargaritaVille also has some depth. While exploring, I managed to find enough money to upgrade my wardrobe and have a drink at a bar. This game is well done and something that I am sure my daughter and wife (who is a casual gamer) would enjoy playing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Free-Writing Challenge - Tom Gammarino

The brilliant author Tom Gammarino offered a challenge to choose a topic and then write about it non-stop for 10 minutes. I chose the topic of Christmas and away I went. Reading it now, though, it's interesting to see  how I veered off-topic a few times:

 Given the season, for my freewriting I decided to write about Christmas. The Christmas season is upon us and it is a beautiful thing. I think the fact that I am Christian and have an 11 year-old daughter makes it even better. We always kick off the holiday season during the Thanksgiving school break for her by watching Home Alone and Home Alone 2. Those movies always make me think of Christmas. I wonder what happened to little Kevin McCallister’s acting career? He seemed to have a promising future but I guess not. I honestly cannot remember any other movies with him in it. The movie had Joe Pesci. I loved Joe in those movies, Casino, and the Lethal Weapon movies. After watching the movies it’s on to Black Friday. I always wondered why they call it Black Friday. Black usually denotes something sinister or scary like the Black Death or black out of a football game. I guess White Friday doesn’t have the same ring. I’ve never waited in line anywhere though because I’m too lazy and the discounts don’t seem to be worth it. If Porsche has a 50% off sale I will go. Until then, it’s mostly showing up late in the day to get something small. I wish I was in the mainland during Christmas. It’s too warm here in Hawaii and doesn’t have the same feel. I want a white Christmas and to build a snowman. We went to DC to visit my sister at Christmas the other year but no white, just cold. The cold means hot chocolate, though, so still a good thing. I also found my old transformers that year. I had most of the original ones. They’re in my living room now even though the wife doesn’t really like them there. Says it messes with the theme. Our theme is Japanese and they’re Japanese so I don’t see the conflict. I guess that’s why I never get to pick anything out for the house. The house is really windy tonight. The howling of the wind is distracting me while I write. I really need to focus harder, but it’s hard because I’m trying to just let my thoughts flow wherever they want to for 10 minutes. Oops actually it’s been 12. I definitely need to learn how to type faster than I just did.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Prototype 2 - Portal Through Time

I made a few changes for the second revision. Many of them had to with the collision system, as I wanted it to be usable on all levels with minimal changes (the original was done with no regard for any type of scalability). A few graphical changes were made, too.

The biggest change was adding of the second level. It is still under construction and the animations should be ready tomorrow (I'm hoping) so it will look considerably cleaner. Once those are complete the collision and second enemy can be added. The plan is for the second level to take a few screens, with the next screen being part of the storytelling element. This is why the graphics are critical, because without them the theme of the game is lost.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Prototype 1 - Portal Through Time

The initial version of the first level of Portal Through Time is complete. The first level is very simple, as intended. The idea is to increase the difficulty on the following levels.

 The concept of the first level is simply to avoid the Tiki Guardian, grab the torch idol, and then reach the portal at the top left corner (which is animated in an attempt to make it obvious that reaching it is the goal. One thing I'm considering changing is how going too high kills the player. It seems to be one of the "stupid AI" items that Richard Rouse mentions. I also want to add some text in case a player tries to reach the portal without first grabbing the torch, as it will not let them through. This will be done before revision two.

Finally, I need to finish the graphics for the hero. As I am not very graphically gifted, I spent countless hours trying to get it done. In the end, though, for this prototype, I ended up using images from one of the Construct 2 tutorials for time reasons. I need to get the real character in soon, though.

The first version is located here -

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Focus: Port Through Time

Port Through Time is a side scrolling 2D game where the player will be Dirt McSplorer, the son of a famous explorer. Dirt never lived up to his father's lofty expectations while he was alive, but after finding an old map hidden in the attic, Dirt can change everything. It's a map to the mythical Port Through Time, a place where time travel is possible. However, no one has ever found it. As Dirt, the player will encounter numerous obstacles on his way towards solving the mystery of the cave. The game play will be the typical "ladder" adventure game style, with different levels to explore.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Pirate Life for Me

I have always felt that the pirate genre was one that should be expanded. Besides Sid Meier's Pirates!, there are not too many offerings out there. There are games related to Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series (which are great movies), but they are not focused on the "pirate lifestyle". This something that needs to be fixed. Ever since Chunk and the gang went after One-Eyed Willie's treasure in The Goonies, I've been hooked. The idea would be to have an RPG game where you could live out the life of a pirate on the high seas 500 years ago. There would be the looting of ships and ports, battles with the authorities and other pirates, sailing, treasure, and lots of rum. I picture this as a multiplayer game where gamers could create alliances to achieve goals, all the while being ready to backstab their "friends" because that's the pirate way.


A genre I have always been interested in is hunting games. They provide a more casual type of shooter fun than the more immersive and time consuming military shooters. One big change I would like to make, though, is to switch the prey. Instead of hunting game animals, I want to use mythical creatures. The reason for this are two-fold. One, I think it offers some product differentiation and will be easier on the young ones, who may not like the idea of shooting Bambi and Thumper. Secondly, it will allow me more flexibility as far as their intelligence and behavioral patterns, as they are not as clearly defined in fantasy. The game would feature different environments, weapons, and skill levels. The true challenge would lie in making the game not too repetitive and not too difficult. I'm off to sample a hunting game or two on the 360 to see how the experts conquered this potential obstacle.

Port Through Time

I love side scrollers. I think this game style is perfectly suited to adventure-style games. I also love everything that deals with time travel. From the Back to the Future series to Quantum Leap, the idea of exploring different time periods is something that I find fascinating. With this in mind, I want to combine the two, creating a side scroller where each level is in a different time period. The idea will be to find a particular artifact that will beat the level and allow you to "port" to another time, where the process will repeat itself. Along the way, there will be villians, creatures, and natural hazards to overcome.

The hope is to bring back the simple joy of a game like Ghostbusters from the Sega Genesis era (pictured) combined with a storyline that changes enough to not be repetitive.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dream Game

My dream game is one that is based on strategy as opposed to controller "stick skills". I think this is because games like Call of Duty and Halo have perfected this genre. The thinking man's game market, though, seems to be much thinner. For this reason, I was excited about the release of a new X-Com game (judging by the reception, I'm not the only one who is happy about the game's release). This turn-based game may lack the speed of most modern day offerings, but it combines the depth of a game like The Sims with combat scenarios. As a result, it is hard to put down and incredibly addictive. Then again, this is coming from someone who used to spend hours trying out different trade scenarios ....

The main point here is that depth is what makes a game special and re-playable, which is something the creators of X-Com definitely took to heart.