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I can’t find much reference pictures of this table, and both my sis and I forgot how it looked like. So this might not be entirely accurate.

I am recreating my house (in the Philippines, haven’t been back since December) in 3d. Made using 3ds Max, texture from CGTextures.

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More “practice”, I was telling my sis that I can do this bench in 5 minutes. Well, more or less, “modelling”, search for texture in CGTexture, UV unwrap. Well, that’s how the bench looks like.

Part of Project Pasadena, my effort to recreate my house in 3d.

The App Store gamble continues…

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Reblog of my AltDevBlogADay post.

My first blog post on #AltDevBlogADay is about the AppStore being a gamble. In this blog post, I will continue where my story left off.The App Store is a gamble, so what should you put your money on? The question continues, and will hopefully find some answers.

So, our company finished a game recently, it’s called “Absolute Instant” and it’s now available on the app store.

I am going to let tweets do the talking:

We are shocked because someone (that’s not us, or our friends) made a thread about our game on TouchArcade and people were talking about it. And then my boss is constantly Google-ing “Absolute Instant”, and all of us get so excited when we hear people writing reviews about it. There were good reviews and bad ones (mostly from the Japanese). There was one review in Japanese that described our game so bad, that one of the readers became intrigued and went to buy our game. So there really is no bad publicity, huh.

More tweets a conversation between me and my friend from the Philippines: (our conversation was mostly in Tagalog, so I will include translations)

31wpm: (My boss said our game has been pirated)

Google “Absolute Instant”, and you will see links to IPA download sites, they are mostly in Chinese, why they even gave our game a Chinese name, “巅峰时刻” (no idea how to read those words).

lendegracia: (that was quick)

And yes, sometimes, piracy can be a form of flattery. Because they liked our game enough to jailbreak it and share it to the world. Er..

31wpm: (they are so nice, they are helping us promote)

And hopefully, if our game is good enough, we will get our fair share. Hopefully.

Our company tweets too:

Most of the comments I received on my previous blog post about marketing. It’s not enough to just make an app, a game, that is good. You have to market it, and you have to market it well. Listed above are some of my bosses marketing efforts. Also our game designer also drops by all the Taiwanese and Chinese iPhone apps forums and starting threads and leaving comments. And one good thing about promoting it locally, the readers would say, “支持國產的遊戲” (which I think translates to, support games produced by your own country…? Okay, my Chinese is terrible), and they would proceed to buy it.

And the most exciting news we heard over the weekend, through luck, effort and divine intervention:

We are featured this week on the New and Noteworthy list for both Apps and Games. More stats:

All Games: #169
Top Arcade: #54
Top Action: #63
Game Center by Popularity: #83

The numbers are changing as we speak.

In our pep talk email from our boss, he mentions one very important thing, “Making the chart is one thing, but staying on the chart is another.” So still more marketing, more updates. Everything we can to keep our game rising on the list.

At the end of the day, there is not definitive answer that Arcade Shooters are the way to go, but for one thing, they were much more easy to market than our previous travel app.

Well, this is the story so far.

P.S. To all the nice people who have left comments and good advices on my previous post, thank you.

P.P.S. Game spiel:

Mobili Studio presents a new breed of shooting game designed base on iPhone’s unparalleled controls.

DRAG the circular region to move the fighting jets.
TAP anywhere to teleport out of enemies’ attacks.
SHAKE to drop a black hole bomb that sucks in all enemies’ bullets, even the smaller enemies!

Features:
•Unique teleporting gameplay (only possible on touchscreen!)
•3 difficulty levels
•2 characters with different attacks
•5 stages with bullet hell bosses
•Over 30 different enemy types
•Various magical attacks from special enemies and bosses
•Compatible with Game Center
•Built-in tutorial
•Awesome HD graphics
•Fast paced and adrenaline rushed music

Enter the war zone and conquer the Celestians using the breakthrough technology Terrestrians discovered – Absolute Instant (A.i.)! With this newfound power, the oppressed gained the ability to TELEPORT in the sky, and swore to end the centuries long battle…

P.P.P.S. Please support our game :) We also have a Lite version available. Please and thank you.

Links:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/absolute-instant/id426074497?mt=8#

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/absolute-instant-lite/id439190029?mt=8

The App Store is a gamble – so what should you put your money on?

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Reblog from my AltDevBlogADay post, with some updates to follow (in another post, maybe).

Do you know that the App Store has 350,000+ apps?  With more than 10 billion apps downloaded (how many zeros are in a billion again? Oh yah, 9). So 10,000,000,000 divided by 350,000 gets us 28,571 and some decimal points.  So if the downloads are divided equally among apps, your app would have made 28k, but that is obviously not the case. There is no way for us to find out how many downloads each app actually gets, unless they tell us. According to the people behind Angry Birds, their franchise reached 200 million downloads, their original game has somewhere over 100 million, while Angry Birds Rio has over 10 million.  Words with Friends, over 10 million; Fruit Ninja, over 6 million; Cut the Rope, over 6 million. According to Matt Rix’s blog, his Trainyard Express has over 2 million. While Outfit7 announced recently that their Talking friends reached the 100 million downloads.

But there are also apps that just sit there, unnoticed in the App Store. And the developer just waits, waits until someone discovers that it’s there, and hopefully downloads it and likes it.

So our company (a tiny studio with 2 bosses, 1 project manager, 1 designer, 3 programmers and 3 artists) released our first app two months ago (forgive me, but please let me plug a bit, it’s called Visual Travel Checklist (VTC), and it’s a travel essential application that helps you prepare and pack for your trips. VTC provides an intuitive user interface with vibrant icons as the TO-DOs and TO-BRINGs. Who says getting ready for a trip has to be bothersome and wordiness? No longer is the process of writing on notepad then crossing tasks and items out needed! VTC is a brand new way to prep and pack!). View in App Store.

From the development to the QA, to the submission to the App Store, I have this “let’s do this first app heck yeah” chant going on in my head. I will let my tweet speak for me:

Waiting for our app to be approved and be on the App Store, was like watching water boil. There was literally days when I would press F5 over and over again on my iTunes Connect page. And when it finally was approved and has this cute little green bullet that says “Ready for Sale”, I was like (more tweets):

I am an over enthusiastic fan girl, forgive me.

And then… what then? Then that’s it. Just because it’s on the App Store it doesn’t mean that people know that it’s in there. There are 350,000+ apps in there. Relax though, there are only around 600+ travel apps that start with the letter V (I counted). So how can you possibly stand out among that crowd? Well, since the release, my two bosses have been working hard marketing our app (review sites, promotional videos and all), and it should help us a little.

So here I am, waiting. The whole thing just feels so anti climatic.

Moving on, our company’s second app is a shooter game (code name: A.i.), sneak preview from our company’s Facebook page:

 

Well, there are 3000+ games on the App Store that starts with the letter A (I know, I know, I should be counting the total number of games on the App Store). So that means more competition, boo.

You may note that our two apps are very very different. That’s because we are a new studio, and our bosses thinks that we should try making all kinds of apps, and then see which succeeds. Yeah, remember what the title of this post, the App Store is a gamble (after that really long intro and plug, I’m finally getting to it). I am actually very lucky, in our company, anyone can come up with an app idea, and if the rest of us feel that it’s good, we’ll do it, we’ll make it. It can be a game, a lifestyle app, a utility app, anything, as long as it’s a good idea.

So what kind of idea should I come up with? What kind of app should we be putting our money on?

It is worth noting, that on Apple’s list of All Time Top Paid iPhone Apps, Doodle Jump, a game, is number 1, followed by Tap Tap Revenge 3, also a game, and then Pocket God, game, and then Angry Birds, obviously game. In fact, only AppBox Pro Alarm, is not a game on the Top 10 All Time Top Paid iPhone Apps. In the Free section however, the non game apps fare just fine. But we are in it to make money, so let’s just ignore the Free section for now, it’s not as if we can compete with Facebook anyway.

So are people willing to spend more on games than lifestyle apps, utility apps or travel apps (I didn’t count Social Networking apps, because they get a lot of downloads too, but they’re mostly free)?

But in terms of development, that travel app is cake compared to that hell of a shooter. Time is also of value here. We can make more apps in a year, if the development time for each one is shorter. But if we take more time, we might be able to make an app that has a bigger chance of kicking ass and charge more :) (like Infinity Blade- that kicks ass, and I don’t think anyone, so far, can compete with them). Jon Jordan from pocketgamer.biz estimated that Inifinity Blade sales reached at least 3 million dollars within three weeks, with more than 600k downloads at $5.99 per download.

Although it’s really hard to tell, because Talking apps by Outfit7 reached 100 million downloads, and their apps (have you guys tried them? Talking Tom Cat is absolutely adorable) basically what those apps do is, you say something, and then the animal will repeat it, in this chipmunk like voice. They have other functions too, like you can feed the cat milk, or play with it, but most of the additional functions are In App Purchases. In terms of development, it’s a simple app.  But maybe it sells because it’s a simple app. Just a cute (how can something with chipmunk voices not be cute?) little app, but it sells (In App Purchases anyway, most of their apps are actually free, or priced at a dollar).

And of course, there are the miracles that happen in the App Store. I think Andreas Illiger really hit the jackpot with Tiny Wings. It’s a very beautiful game and it’s fun, and people really like it (my officemates are addicted). Why, it can even compete with Angry Birds.

So, how would you know, really, what kind of app, what kind of game will do well in the App Store? Please comment :)

Sources:

Review: Unity 3D Game Development by Example Beginner’s Guide

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Unity 3D Game Development by Example Beginner's Guide

This is an excerpt of my previous blog post.

This book is written by Ryan Henson Creighton aka Cassie the 5 yr old game developer’s dad. This book is about 380 something pages, and it takes you through Unity from the basics (as in what Unity is, what you can and cannot do *hint* MMOs unless you are really popular and has like a hundred friends or something). And then he teaches through examples, hence the title of the book. He also gives readers programming basics. All in all, the author is actually quite a fun read, because of his wit and humor, and it is nothing like my Computer Programming 1 professor, who tends to drone.

Overall, I think this book is easy read, it’s not intimidating in such a way that it bombards you with information, code bits that you can’t even begin to grasp. I think that beginners, even those who have “never coded before” would find this book easy to digest, and might even be able to “build fun games”.

For those who are interested in the book, you can check it here. The book actual offers samples codes and projects that you can download even if you haven’t bought the book, here.

Build fun games even if you’ve never coded before

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Reblog of my AltDevBlogADay post.

“Start developing games straight away. Build your first game in the first chapter.” “Fun and fast paced. Ideal for readers with no game programming experience.” “A cool guide to get into the game industry quickly.”

Doesn’t that sound like an advertisement for weight loss, except for well, making games. Those are the lines on the “back cover” (if eBooks have back covers) of game development beginner’s guides. But can you really make a game after reading the book? That’s what I want to find out.

So I grab a copy of Unity 3D Game Development by Example Beginner’s Guide (written by Ryan Henson Creighton aka Cassie the 5 yr old game developer’s dad) and I will write this blog post as I read through the book and make that game. There also Beginner’s Guide books for Cocos2d (Cocos2d for iPhone 0.99 Beginner’s Guide written by Pablo Ruiz), XNA (XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example: Beginner’s Guide written by Kurt Jaegers) and Flash (Flash Game Development by Example written by Emanuele Feronato).

Some disclaimer, I am not a complete beginner at Unity. I spent maybe a year (two years ago) making technical demos using Unity, for a game art outsourcing company in the Philippines that wants to break out from outsourcing to creating their own games. But I left that company, and country and well, to come to a tiny studio in Taiwan to make iPhone games. So here I am, reacquainting myself with Unity. Hi Unity, I’m Hsiao Wei Chen, nice to meet you (okay, that was lame).

So here we go, first chapter. Chapter 1: That’s One Fancy Hammer. (You can read the first chapter on the PacktPub website) Basically, a little intro about Unity. I don’t think I need to tell you guys what Unity is. And he starts telling us about what type of games you can build with Unity, and he shows us Fusion Fall (an MMORPG game by Cartoon Network)…  “You can make an MMORPG with Unity? That is awesome! I wanna make my own MMO!” screams the excited reader. And then he slams that thought by telling the readers to check the credits. You need to clone yourself 79 times, according to the author, and send yourself to school to study various disciplines.

Okay, so no MMO, so what game are we gonna make, Mr. Author sir? Then he points us to games on Blurst and Wooglie. Casual games? I don’t know about you, but I love casual games, I mean that how I got into this business in the first place (read about how I stumbled into this whole game making business on Gamasutra, in case you’re interested, but you’re probably not, anyway, moving on). Okay, casual games it is then, because we need to “Walk before you can run (or double jump)”. And then it’s hammer time, head on over to the Unity website and download well, Unity, and then install install, and then launch!

And then he starts explaining the interface. I took down some notes:

(my “notes”, forgive my terrible handwriting)

And then we move on to the next chapter! Chapter 2: Let’s Start with the Sky. Are we going to be making skies? Read on, the author asks us, “It’s time to build a game, right? But how do you start? Where do you start?” Um, I don’t know, you tell me. He tells us, that every game starts with an idea. But the number of ideas you come up with doesn’t matter. “The one thing that separates you from success is not the number of ideas you’ve had or the number of projects you’ve started and abandoned, it’s the games you’ve finished that count.” Is that directed at me? I have a tendency to have a lot of ideas, starting a lot of projects, but never finishing them. That line really struck me, sir. Yes, sir, I will try to finish my games, okay not try, I WILL finish my games.

And then he talks about “The Siren Song of 3D” (how beautifully put). He says that before we even begin, the odds are already stacked against us! That’s a mean thing to say. He points out that games like GTA, Mario or Fall Out 3 is they have “an animated character or first-person camera moving around in a physics-based environment; a rich and detailed 3D world with maps… teams of hundreds of people burning through multimillion dollar budgets…” Okay, we get it, we can’t make MMOs and AAA quality games.

And then he starts talking about features vs content, and giving a lot of examples of games along the way. The summary: “By cutting features from your game ideas, you can whittle your design down to a more manageable size than by cutting content”. Okay, got it. Can we get started now? I want to make some games! (or at least one game, before the night is over).

Chapter 3: Game #1 Ticker Taker. Yeah, finally! So what game are we going to make? Volleyball. He wants us to make a volleyball game, I hate volleyball (or rather, I suck at vollyeball). But he did ask nicely for us to pretend that we are totally pumped about volleyball. Fyeahvollyeball!

*takes a break to do the laundry*

Okay, now where were we? Oh yeah, game, and volleyball. I love volleyball. Read, read, read. The author Is explaining the rules and the complexities of volleyball and he came to conclude: “You + volleyball game = badIdea.” I know right, really bad idea. But then he insists that volleyball is my dream, my passion, that is why we must strip volleyball down to it’s bear essentials and start from there. Okay, he instructs me to get “a red pen and/or machete”, gotcha. Okay, I have my machete, who do we kill? -Sets, teams, multiple players, net, referee, spectators, and then the player. Wait, what? We’re even killing the player? What’s left? A ball. A ball floating in midair. A ball that cannot touch the floor. And something to bounce the ball on. Okay, I can work with a ball (in fact, I think I can even make a 3D model of a ball in Blender).

So let’s go to Unity. Create new project and then add a new object to the scene, a sphere, which will serve as our ball. So we name him, Ball!

(more “notes”, before and after)

He says that our ball right now is between the ground (half above ground, half below ground). And we must move the ball up to the sky. We change the Y position of the ball to 2 (in the Inspector panel). Okay, that was easy. Next, he complains that our ball is too big, so we scale it to 0.4 for X, Y and Z. Okay. Next step? Save the scene.

Now, we have our ball, next is our paddle (the thing that we are going to have our ball bounce on). We create a cube (Game Object > Create Other > Cube), and we name him Paddle, and then we scale him, so he’ll look less like a cube and more like a paddle. Alright then.

And then we add a light to our scene.

(our ball and paddle used to be dark an dreary, now it is all lighted up. like a make up commercial)

And then we test our game! We hit Play. *those black crows from Japanese animes fly by* Nothing happens.

The author is pulling our leg, he wants us “to test your game at this point, even though nothing happened, to pinpoint that magic moment when Unity becomes awesome.” Okay, well, I can’t wait for things to become awesome.

Add physics to our game! Click on Ball in the Hierarchy panel, and then go to Component > Physics > Rigidbody, to add a Rigidbody to our Ball. And make sure that Gravity is checked in the Inspector panel. And we could hit play again (at least he is telling us to hit play again). Our ball fell down and hit the paddle! Whee! It was “especially cool” (he says I can get ten points, if I said that that was especially cool).

Next, we want our ball to bounce. Because, in real life, ball bounce, right? At least volleyballs bounce (I know that much about volleyballs). So we set the Material property of the Sphere Collider of our ball to Bouncy. And press play again, and it is magically bouncy! “Especially cool”! And that’s the end of chapter 3.

But the ball just keeps bouncing and we can’t do anything. So we have to move on to the next chapter, Chapter 4: Code Comfort. So it’s time for some coding. Nervous? But the advertisement says that: “Build fun games even if you’ve never coded before”. I guess this is the part that will decide whether a book can really teach someone to make a game. Well, it’s 37 pages of condensed lesson in scripting.

The question at the back of my head: do I really want to read about scripting?

*will rest a bit tonight, will take on that chapter tomorrow*

Next day, a new chapter. Chapter 4:  Code Comfort. Here we go! I’m just gonna read it through for and give you guys a short review of what I read.

*reads*

Okay, done. This chapter starts from the basics, in an easy to read and easy to understand way for the readers, whom the author assumes has no background at all in coding. For one thing, he compares functions to a hoagie, the curly brackets being the buns, and the scripts inside as well, the tomato, the salami, the mayo. And a variable to a bucket, which contains things, you know. He also teaches the readers how to access the Unity Manual and Scripting guide and how to make sense of it. He also lets the readers try out code every step of the way. All in all, the author is actually quite a fun read, because of his wit and humor, and it is nothing like my Computer Programming 1 professor, who tends to drone. So, I’m done with Chapter 4.

I do realize that this book has 380 something pages and 12 chapters. And this blog post will go on like forever If I continue in this fashion. So um, I’m going to stop here.

Overall, I think this book is easy read, it’s not intimidating in such a way that it bombards you with information, code bits that you can’t even begin to grasp. I think that beginners, even those who have “never coded before” would find this book easy to digest, and might even be able to “build fun games”. For those who are interested in the book, you can check it here. The book actual offers samples codes and projects that you can download even if you haven’t bought the book, here.

By the way, you can also read my review of Cocos2d for iPhone 0.99 Beginner’s Guide here. But my conclusion after reading that books is: “Overall, I think this book is a very comprehensive guide to anyone, who has a bit of background in programming, and wants to start making games using Cocos2D.” Note, I said that it will be a good guide to anyone with a bit of background in programming.

So can someone who has never coded before learn how to make games by reading a book? That was the question at the beginning of this blog post. I guess it’s hard to tell, I’ll have to say it’s:

( sign from Mythbusters)

By the way, Packt Publishing gave me these books for free to review. Why? It’ because I’m a blogger and I occasionally blog about Cocos2d stuff. You can get free books too, if you are a blogger/ webmaster/ reviewer for a magazine or a popular and relevant website / educator in an academic institution, just email you details to reviewrequest@packtpub.com. If you’re not those, you can also exchange an original article that you wrote of course, for a free book. More details on the Packt website.