I’m the 7th Toptal Scholarship Winner! #humblebrag


Reblog from Toptal’s Press Release:

San Francisco, CA, May 31, 2016 — On October 21, Toptal launched Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women, a program designed to empower and support the next generation of female computer scientists, software engineers, and developers through a combination of financial support and mentorship.

Today, we are thrilled to announce the seventh winner of the scholarship, Hsiao Wei Chen, a game developer from the Philippines who aspires to start her own incubator for game developers in Taiwan and the Philippines. She plans to put the scholarship winnings towards a Master’s Degree in Video Game Enterprise and Production at Birmingham City University in the UK, which in turn will help Hsiao develop the business knowledge she needs to start her gaming incubator.

Ultimately, Hsiao wants to understand every part of the game development process, “from programming, to completion, to distribution, and marketing,” so she can empower other game developers in her home country to independently develop their own games and bring them to market.

“Hsiao has a big dream, and she’s very driven to achieve it,” said Anna Chiara-Bellini, Toptal’s Director of Engineering, who leads the scholarship’s committee of judges. “Gaming is a very tight niche so she has a hard task at hand. Plus, her dream of starting an incubator in the Philippines is a really difficult challenge. We were nervous the project was too big for one person to take on.”

“However, when Hsiao explained how much she knows, how much she loves the gaming industry, and all the ideas she has to help her thrive in such a difficult market, we knew if anyone was up for the challenge, she was. We’re committed to helping her pursue her Master’s Degree and matching her with the right mentor to help make her gaming incubator dream a reality.”

As a scholarship winner, Hsiao will receive $5,000 to further her educational and professional development goals, as well as a year of weekly one-on-one dedicated mentorship from a senior software engineer from the Toptal network.

Hsiao’s Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women application

Hsiao first learned about the scholarship while looking for opportunities to help her pay for her Video Game Enterprise and Production Master’s Program. She was immediately drawn to Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women because the application required that she contribute to GitHub. A major contributor to open source, Hsiao keeps a blog where she posts tutorials on how to develop games and use plugins for Android and iOS.

Collaboration and teaching are integral to Hsiao’s learning process. She explains, “Whenever I learn something myself, I post about it on my blog and answer other developers’ questions.” Contributing on open source as part of the application was a clear way for her to continue her existing habit of honing her skills while giving back to the developer community.

The one-on-one mentorship will provide her critical guidance in developing her skills as an engineer and an entrepreneur. “I still have lots of skills that I need to develop,” Hsiao said. “Having a mentor who I can go to with all of my questions is going to be really awesome and critical to my success.”

About Hsiao

Hsiao developed a love for programming in high school and earned her degree in Computer Science in college. “I was always a member of my school’s computer clubs and multimedia clubs,” Hsiao reflected. After graduating, she moved from the Philippines to Taiwan and looked to build the same support systems she had found in those clubs. She learned about Global Game Jam, a hackathon in which a multitude of game developers in Taiwan get together and code for 48 hours straight to build new games.

By getting to know the small but vibrant “indie game developer community” in Taiwan, Hsiao developed her dream of making independent game development a more feasible career path for aspiring developers – and especially aspiring female developers – back in the Philippines.

“Because we’re still a so-called third-world country, it’s really hard for developers to go out on their own and pursue great ideas for new games,” Hsiao said. “There’s little to no financial incentive to go after these ideas, no matter how good they are, and I know many very talented developers who would create amazing games if only they had the financial capabilities. That’s why I want to create an incubator – to give them that support.”

Hsiao’s own game development process is a family affair – both of her sisters and her roommate are artists, so whenever she creates a new game concept, she has three artists at her disposal to help her visualize and build out the product.

Currently, she is working on an IoT pedometer for kids called Nabi Compete, which lets users earn coins for steps. They can turn those coins into play games and buy food for their virtual pets. “The idea is to get kids more active, inspire some healthy competition, and make exercise really fun.” With each iteration of her apps, she bounces ideas off of her siblings, who are both extremely well versed in both 2D and 3D design.

Ultimately, Hsiao hopes to create an equally collaborative work environment for game developers and artists in order to turn game development from a super niche, tiny industry in the Philippines to a booming community of empowered independent developers.

Please join us in congratulating game developer Hsiao Wei Chen on becoming the seventh winner of the Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women program!

About Toptal STEM Scholarships for Women

Toptal STEM Scholarships for women are a series of 12 scholarships for women that are awarded monthly over a year, with Rachell being the fifth scholarship winner. Women from across the world of any education level are eligible to apply to win $5,000 and a year of weekly one-on-one technical training and mentorship from a Toptal senior technologist to help them pursue their goals as future professional software engineers.

The prior scholarship winners are Rojina Bajracharya from Nepal, Ana Sustic from Slovenia, Gabriela Mancini from Argentina, Tondi Butler from America, Rachell Calhoun, also from America, and Yasett Acurana from Bolivia.

To apply to Toptal Scholarships for Female Developers and for more information about the program, visit https://www.toptal.com/scholarships.

About Toptal

Founded in 2010, Toptal is one the fastest-growing and most innovative companies to emerge from Silicon Valley. With backing from Andreessen Horowitz, Silicon Valley’s famed venture capital firm, Adam D’Angelo, founder of Quora, Ryan Rockefeller, and other investors, Toptal today connects thousands of elite freelance software engineers and designers from around the world to over 2,000 blue chips such as J.P. Morgan and Pfizer, tech companies such as Airbnb and Zendesk, and numerous startups to provide world-class solutions that meet the most complex and challenging requirements. Toptal’s rapid growth is testimony to exploding client demand and the unmatched quality and reliability of the company’s services.

Media Inquiries

Joellen Ferrer
Toptal, LLC
+1 (415) 308-8209

I’m so happy ❤ ❤ ❤

Oh also, like mentioned, I’m moving to UK in September! Yeah!

Thank you Toptal, the best mom and dad, lovely sisters, beloved grandma and auntie.


How to create DLLs for Unity?


I guess the first question is Why? Why create DLLs?

DLLs can be used to Tidy Up Unity Code, speed up compile time (a bit)makes it easier to redistribute code and a bunch of other Pros (but also Cons), and reduce deployment clutter and you can literally put everything you need – textures, audio, whatever – inside one file.

Okay, so now, How? Unity actually has a pretty good tutorial on How, but it lacks pictures and fails to mention some quirks.

Let’s get started:

  1. Create a New Solution in MonoDevelop, select C# > Library.
  2. Specify its Name, Location and Solution Name. 
  3. Reference Unity DLLs, by going to Project > Edit References…
  4. Select .Net Assembly, and navigate to: /Applications/Unity/Unity.app/Contents/Frameworks/Managed/UnityEngine.dll, and click Add. 
  5. UnityEngine.dll will then be included in the References folder of the Solution.
  6. Add files by right clicking on the solution and Add > Add Files…
  7. Before building, make sure that Mono Soft Debugger Support for Unity is disabled. Go to MonoDevelop-Unity > Add-in Manager… Unity > Mono Soft Debugger Support for Unity, and click Disable.

    Remember to Enable Mono Soft Debugger Support for Unity again, after building.

  8. Also, make sure Target framework is set to .NET 2.0. Right click on the solution, go to Options > Build > General, and set Target framework.
  9. Click Build > Build All or Build > Build <Solution Name>.
  10. The DLL will be saved in the bin/Debug folder of the Solution.
  11. Copy the DLL file to Assets/Plugins and reference it like any normal script.

There will always be a few Quirks:

  1. Cyclic dependencies of DLL not allowed
  2. Can only reference other DLLs
  3. DLLs cannot be edited in Unity
  4. DLL with dependencies will log error, if dependency not included in Unity Project
  5. DLL scripts cannot be in separate folders (Editor scripts need to be in Editor folder -> build separate DLLs for Editor and normal scripts, use Unity Package to sort them into proper folders)
  6. Change #if UNITY_IPHONE script to if(Application.platform == RuntimePlatform.IPhonePlayer) and change #if UNITY_ANDROID script to if(Application.platform == RuntimePlatform.Android)
  7. Editor Scripts not working properly -> needs to create a proxy script to bind to Unity (http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/editor-script-dll-and-regular-script-dll-not-adding-custominspector-scripts.107720/)
  8. DLL with reference to AndroidJavaObject fails to build for iOS

Some quirks which I can’t seem to resolve and I’m hoping someone can help me:

#indiesvspewdiepie weekend jam

Dev, Games

So I haven’t done a game jam in a while (after I failed my #nar8). And I wasn’t really planning on doing #indiesvspewdiepie.

But then my lil sis and I woke up on Saturday and saw that one of our colleagues were doing it, and we’re like yah, we should do it too.

But first French Toast with eggs and bacon, sprinkles (because why wouldn’t you add sprinkles. actually, it’s my first time adding sprinkles on my toast, and yah, you wouldn’t, you shouldn’t).

We decided to make a fighting game starring fat animals. Because we saw that really cute video starring fat balloon animals.

My little sis sketched this:


We started with a box model, of the basic game play. We simplified the controls to just tapping two keys alternately really really quick.

Oh yah, and as usual, I used Unity as my game engine, I was only on Basic, because I couldn’t remember which of my accounts had the Pro license.

Literally a box model:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 10.37.28 PM

One thing that we have been doing at work is using box models to test out basic gameplay. If it’s fun during the box model, you should be good to go. And using box models is a good way to test out asset sizes etc.

And then:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 10.39.14 PM

I started with a 2 player mode, and then added a 1 player vs com mode.

And pandas have colors now:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 10.41.11 PM

And then we decided that we’ll just stick to pandas. Just pandas. Because pandas are the cutest animals ever.

And then while my lil sis was drawing everything, I was voicing pandas. Saying things like “I’m so fluffy” and “I hate you.”

And then lots of UI:

I placed in the cool background music that I had been using for all my previous game jams.

Some more tweaks and we were done.

And we uploaded it.

End of Saturday.

On Sunday, we did laundry, and I baked cupcakes.

With sprinkles, obviously.


And I was going through the Game Jam Rules again, and read that all audio assets needed to be done within the 72 hours as well.

So I recorded some more nonsense as our background music.

And uploaded it again.

And since we still had a lot of time on our hands, we also made a trailer for our game:

By the way, the name of our game is “Fist of Furry”.

It’s on GameJolt: http://jams.gamejolt.io/indiesvspewdiepie/games/fist-of-furry/39159


Voting just started, so please vote for us. Please and thank you.

Voting just ended and results are in! And Fist of Furry is #39 out of 700+ games! We didn’t win, but it’s pretty okay.

The important part is finishing a game in less than a weekend, and for people to play our game and appreciate its cuteness and soundfx.


Indie Speed Run 2013: “From Strawberry” Dev Post


Indie Speed Run is like a game jam, but slightly different, because one, you don’t have to be at a physical location (which is great, so at least you get to sleep in your own bed, if ever, between breaks) and it has a theme and an element that you need to incorporate into your game.

This is my second year doing Indie Speed Run, last year was my first (also my first ever game jam). Instead of grouping with my friends who were in the Philippines and working together virtually through Google Hangouts like I did last year, I decided to group up with my sisters instead, and we worked on the game together from our apartment. I’m just lucky to be a programmer that have 2 sisters who are artists.

Quick Review: Unreal Development Kit Game Programming with UnrealScript Beginners Guide


Unreal Development Kit Game Programming with UnrealScript: Beginner's Guide
First thing I noticed about the book is, it’s written by a girl! The book is written by Rachel Cordone.
I don’t have any experience with Unreal, and am even a bit nervous to try it. But this book says its for beginners, so I decided to give it a read.
So far Chapter 1 has been very clear in teaching me how to install UDK. It gives very clear instructions (screenshots included!), and it’s not intimidating at all for a beginner like me.
I still have a lot of chapters to read, but so far, so good.

Quick Review: Unity iOS Essentials


I am currently reading “Unity iOS Essentials”, which I won from ManiacDev’s book giveaway contest.

Unity iOS Essentials

And so far, I find that this book seems to be all over the place and it inspires to be a Game Design book.

Why made me think so? Well, Chapter 1 is about Planning Ahead for an Unity iOS Game, it starts out pretty clear, it aims to give the readers a little heads up before they start their game, it mentions considerations such as terrain, lighting, audio, etc. And then it got to the Let’s Get Started part, which is pretty much the author make all sorts of game design suggestions, and sometimes he would suggest something and not really explain why, such as he said that Fog is not such a great idea, and he suggests that we use particles instead, but why? Why isn’t fog a good idea? He even mentioned that it adds ambiance, so why isn’t it a good idea? Also there is a whole chunk that he talks about teleportation (wut? o.O), which provides means for players to travel across our large levels. He could have ended that bit there, but he goes on to suggest different ways of doing teleportation, warp gates, trains, what nots. And then after being distracted by all those really not important stuff, he starts talking about culling. Now, culling is important (even the author says so). But the reader could have skipped that part (okay, at least I almost skipped that part because I was skipping the trying to skip the teleportation part).

Chapter 2 is called iOS Performance Guide, but like Chapter 1, instead of getting right down to it (the performance guide), he starts the chapter with different kinds of games that the reader can make. And briefly mention skybox and how we’re supposed to use a cube with reversed normals instead of the one that Unity came with (again, no explanation whatsoever on why we shouldn’t use the Unity one). And then some bits about how we should do our terrain (not the technical part, the design part of making a terrain). Some more bits about different game genres.And then suddenly, Unified Graphic Architecture and the other stuff that actually seems like the iOS Performance Guide.

Chapter 3 is called Advanced Game Concepts, but really the things covered in the chapter is not very advanced, it’s stuff about menus, interface, screen sizes, accelerometer, shaders and organizing your assets.

Chapter 4 is called Flyby Background. Can’t say anything about it, because I skipped it.

I’m after Chapter 5 because it’s about Scalable GUIs, which I happen to be working on right now. So far, it’s understandable, pretty easy to follow. But the way the code bits are edited makes it somewhat unreadable. Oh and don’t expect the code to work as is.

That’s where I am right now, there are still four more chapters that I haven’t read yet.

So far, my comment is, it’s all over the place.

Link: http://www.packtpub.com/unity-3d-essentials-for-ios-games/book

Review: Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook


“Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook” is written by Nathan Burba (@nathanburba).

Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook
According to the description, it has “over 90 recipes for iOS 2D game development using cocos2d”. and just by looking at it’s Table of Contents, you’d see that this book covers a lot of topics (some advanced techniques that other cocos2d books have not covered). It also provides solutions to some common problems that we developers might encounter during Cocos2d iOS development.

Like in Chapter 1, it covers graphics, but unlike other books that would only teach you how to make sprites and spritesheets, this book even teaches you how to use apply mipmapping so that that when you scale up or down a sprite it wouldn’t look pixelated. It also has a recipe for a cool technique by swapping palettes so that even with limited amount of art, you can create various versions of a sprite (a single baseball player texture can have be used to create different baseball players with different colored shirts and pants etc). Chapter 1 also answers some questions that you might encounter while working on your game, such as how to I play a video clip of my company’s logo or my game’s cutscene (playing video files recipe). It also covers how to render 3D objects, drawing OpenGL primitives, particles, etc.

Chapter 2 is all about User Input on iOS devices, including the usual (tap, hold, drag), making virtual buttons (creating an analog stick recipe and directional pad recipe) and using the accelerometer. One really cool (for me) recipe that’s also included is gestures (you’d be able to tell what shape the user drew on the screen)!

Chapter 3 is about Files and Data. In making games, we’d need ways to store data (just us score, or level design, etc) and this chapter covers different ways for us to do this. This chapter has recipes for reading plist, json, xml data files, it also includes recipes about archiving objects, saving data using plist, SQLite, Core Data, etc.

Chapter 4 is about physics. Cocos2d has two physics engines that we can use Box2d and Chipmunk. This book only covers Box2d (which is the engine that Angry Birds used), it includes detailed explanations and recipes on how to set up your Box2d environment and simulating physics properties. it even includes a recipe on how to make a car drive up a bumpy hill road!

Chapter 5 is about Scenes and Menus. It also includes how to create buttons and labels (with fancy shadow effects even)! It also has a recipe for wrapping the UIKIT and using it in our Cocos2d game.

Chapter 6 is all about Audio: how to play background sound effects, play music, using the iPod music library. But the really fun bits about this chapter is it even teaches you how to record audio, create a MIDI synthesizer, and to top it all off, it even covers spech recognition and text to speech! Imagine all the games and apps that you can make with those things.

Chapter 7 covers AI, including waypoints, flocking using boids and A* pathfinding. it also teaches you how to run lua scripts and use lua scripts for dialog trees.

Chapter 8 is called Tips, Tools and Ports, and sure enough it includes information about tools that can be used for our Cocos2d game development. Best part, it also includes detailed step by step instructions of how to put your game on the AppStore!

Overall this is a good book with a lot of useful and varied information that have not been covered in other books (and are often lacking in online tutorials). Also
the best thing about this book is it comes with complete working code and detailed explanations on how the code works.

Except some of the topics covered in this book are a bit advanced, so this book is not recommended for beginners, basic Objective C and Cocos2d knowledge is required.

Also the author, Nathan is also very active in the Cocos2d forums, if you have any questions about the book you can just ask him, and he almost always responds immediately.

So if you’re interested to learn new things about Cocos2d iOS development, do check it out! Also if you are interested in this book, I am holding a giveaway contest (where I am giving away 3-4 copies of the book), join now (it’s only until this Wednesday). For more details read my previous blog post (http://purplelilgirl.tumblr.com/post/15713172087/cocos2d-for-iphone-1-game-development-cookbook-giveaway)

Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook


Packt recently released a new Cocos2d book: “Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook” by Nathan Burba.

Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook

Overview of Cocos2d for iPhone 1 Game Development Cookbook

  • Discover advanced Cocos2d, OpenGL ES, and iOS techniques spanning all areas of the game development process
  • Learn how to create top-down isometric games, side-scrolling platformers, and games with realistic lighting
  • Full of fun and engaging recipes with modular libraries that can be plugged into your project
  • Over 90 recipes for iOS 2D game development using cocos2d

Link: http://www.packtpub.com/cocos2d-for-iphone-1-game-development-cookbook/book

How to create a game like Tiny Wings? Links


Tiny Wings is this adorable game by Andreas Illiger that involves this tiny bird who dream of flying.

It is extremely popular on the App store, and that is probably why lots of people wants to know how to make a game like it.

These are some links to tutorials and remake projects.

Sergey Tiknohov (@haqu) is working on a Tiny Wings remake project.

Ray Wenderlich wrote a tutorial based on Sergey’s project, which is divided into 2 parts. The tutorial uses Cocos2d and Box2d.

@jpsarda wrote a blog post on how to make the gorgeous hills in Tiny Wings using Cocos2d.

Emanuele Feronato wrote a tutorial on how to make the Tiny Wings terrain using Flash and Box2d.