How to attend game / tech conferences for FREE?

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Yes, that sounds like a click bait (but it’s not, I swear).

I have spent the last month in 5 countries, a bunch of airplanes and some ferries, and I just got back home and I’m tired and still groggy.

Okay, I was only in two countries for conferences, namely Casual Connect Asia in Singapore, and Rise Conference in Hong Kong (look those up, they are awesome). The other three are for vacation.

If you had looked those two conference up, and checked the ticket prices, you’ll find out that they are quite expensive (at least for someone broke like me- the indie game developer with a day job).

Okay, let’s cut right to the chase.

There are actually quite a few ways to get free tickets, but I’ll just share mine. I’ll also give you some tips on how to stay on budget (Tip #1 learn to love budget flights).

If you had been following me on Twitter or reading this blog (sorry, had been absent lately), you’d know that I love game jams. In case you don’t know what a game jam is, it’s this: you get 48 to 72 hours to make a game based on the given theme from scratch (fun, right? lots of coffee involved though). So earlier this year, I went to Global Game Jam, and they raffled away tickets to Casual Connect Asia. For my case, no one else at our GGJ site actually wanted the tickets, so I took them. So yeah, that is the first way to get free tix- attend community events in case they hand out conference tix for free (but no really, you should attend those events anyway, they are great).

For Rise Conference, they actually started two initiatives, one is to get more Women in Tech (we are still sadly a minority, and there should definitely be more of us) to attend the conference, and the second is for people who contribute to Open Source. So yah, if you are either, you can get free tix. I just got my tix from Women in Tech.

If you have a game or a startup you can always sign up for Indie Prize or Rise Alpha or Beta or Start. But let’s say you didn’t get in those (competition is tough).

Okay, what if you are neither of those things? No worries. Most game or tech conferences actually need volunteers. Lots of volunteers (cue photo of us happy volunteers). So yah, volunteers get free tix too, in exchange for some hours of work (for CC, it’s for a days work, and for Rise it was for 1 and a half days work). But after your shifts you get to enjoy the conference like the rest of the attendees. Also you get a free shirt. Also you get to meet a bunch of awesome people, like those happy smiling people in the picture below.

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So what do we actually do as volunteers? There are different roles, and the organizers usually let you pick what you want to do. And you can get to do everything (registration, goody bag packing, ushering, crowd control, bringing water to speakers, assisting booths, basically all kinds of things).

Plus point, you can add volunteer work to your resume.

Okay, okay, so the question is: volunteering only get you free tix? What about travel and accommodations and food?

For those two, food is actually provided (Well, CC was catered for all attendees, anyway). So that solves the problem of lunch. And for dinner, there are actually quite a few night events (or parties) that come with free food and drinks (free flowing beer at CC, by the way).

Next, is travel. I think I already mentioned budget flights. So yah, go for those. The thing about budget flights though, is well, you get what you pay for. And as long as it does the job of safely delivering you from point A to point B, well, I’m satisfied with that.

For accommodations, well, just because the conference is held in Hard Rock Hotel, doesn’t mean you need to stay there (although they do offer discounts. they also sometimes partner with a couple of other hotels and offer discounts). Be less picky and you can get away with only spending 2000 Taiwan dollars on a week’s stay (well, I only got a bed. But I was at the conference all day and night anyway, I just needed a place to sleep).

And if you have a bit of wanderlust in you, you can even spend a few more days exploring the cities or traveling to nearby countries (hence, my additional countries for vacays).

And I suppose another question is why attend these conferences? Well, I personally think, that everyone should step out of their doors, and see the world and see what the rest of the world are doing. Why live in a bubble when the rest of the world is so big?

Feel free to chat me up on twitter or leave me a comment below.

I’ll try to post more often.

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Get Better at IELTS Reading with Elevate

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As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I recently took an IELTS exam.

One of the things that is really important in the Reading portion of the exam, is the ability to read quickly and grasp information accurately. And obviously that’s not something that you can learn in a day. Speed reading is a skill that needs to be trained.

A while back, I tried a brain training app called Elevate.

It has different games that will train different skills, such as Reading, Listening, Speaking, etc.

When you start the app, there is an initial “test” that will evaluate your “level”. And then you can customize your training goals, you can choose to “improve focus while reading and listening” and/or “retain more of what you read and hear” and/or “improve your mental vocabulary”.

The app comes with a set of free games (in-app purchase to unlock more games), and every training session unlocks 3 games for the day that are relevant to your goals.

For IELTS Reading, I recommend the Processing Reading game, which shows you passages at increasing WPM (words per minute) and then it will ask you some questions regarding the passage.

This feels very similar to the IELTS Reading exam, except it really forces you to read faster while retain information accurately.

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Another game that will help improve your reading is Memory, which is actually used for training Speaking. But since it tests your vocabulary, I think it will be pretty helpful in answering the Reading portion’s questions.

It is pretty straight forward, just type in the word described.

IMG_9512 IMG_9513

I think if you make it a habit to train, you’ll be pretty good at Reading in no time, and maybe perfect that IELTS exam!

Things to note when committing your Unity Project to GIT

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In your Unity Project:

  1. Go to Edit > Project Settings > Editor.
  2. Set Version Control Mode as Visible Meta Files. 
  3. Set Asset Serialization Mode as Force Text.

In your GIT Project:

    1. Set .gitignore
      obj
      Temp
      *.tmproj
      *.csproj
      *.unityproj
      *.sln
      *.suo
      *.user
      *.pidb
      *.userprefs
      Library/cache/*
      Library/metadata/*
      Library/previews/*
      Library/ScriptAssemblies/*
      .DS_Store
      Library/*
      Library/AssetImportState
      Library/AssetServerCacheV3
      Library/FailedAssetImports.txt
      Library/ScriptMapper
      Library/asetDatabase3
      Library/cache
      Library/expandedItems
      Library/guidmapper
      AnnotationManager
      assetDatabase3
      AssetImportState
      assetservercachev3
      AssetServerCacheV3
      AssetVersioning.db
      AudioManager.asset
      BuildPlayer.prefs
      BuildSettings.asset
      DynamicsManager.asset
      EditorSettings.asset
      EditorUserBuildSettings.asset
      expandedItems
      FailedAssetImports.txt
      guidmapper
      InspectorExpandedItems.asset
      MonoManager.asset
      NetworkManager.asset
      ScriptMapper
    2. If you’re using SourceTree, go to Settings > Advanced > Repository-specific ignore list > Edit.

Then you’re good to go! 🙂

Yeti Crab also wrote a good tutorial on how to use GIT with Unity without using command line (they used SourceTree and BitBucket).

Game Jammin’

Dev, Games

Maybe it’s because I’m stuck writing frameworks and plugins at work all day while the rest of the teams are well making games… So I make games in my spare time again.

FUCK THIS JAM

It just so happened that FuckThisJam was on, and the title, and the topic intrigued me- “making a game in a genre you dislike, a genre you don’t care about and a genre you don’t know about.”

So I used to try really hard to come up with reaction based mini games for work. And i hate reaction games, mostly because I’m pretty bad at it. But for some reasons those short and seemingly simple games are all over the charts.

I decided to do a version of “Don’t Step on the White Tiles”, because it was pretty popular, and I don’t really get it.

I call it, “Don’t Step on the White Tiles – Rainbow Edition”, and since it’s a Unity web game, you control using your keyboard instead of just tapping on the tiles.

I worked on this for more or less 4 hours in about two days.

Since it’s piano tiles, and I wanted to get sound of Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do, and couldn’t find any free ones for some reason, I used Garage Band and Audacity.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 11.20.38 PM

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Ironically, I started with a grey theme.

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And then I realized, wait, you’re not suppose to step on the white tiles. So there, all muted colors and a white background.

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And then here it is on the FuckThisJam games site:

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 12.13.04 AM

Do try it out, and tell me what you think: http://purplelilgirl.itch.io/dont-step-on-the-white-tiles-rainbow-edition

 

THE ARBITRARY GAME JAM

My second jam that week (I think I caught a game jam bug?), is The Arbitrary Game Jam.

The only reason I did that was because I couldn’t sleep one night. So I worked on something from around 12 midnight till 4 am, but I wasn’t happy with that one at all.

So the next day, I scrapped the whole thing and started with a new concept from scratch.

Oh yah, the theme was satan, implosion and glomp, and bonus points if you can get 11 in it (since it’s the 11th TAG Jam).

So I made a game called “Satan Wants to Glomp You”.

Basically, you are in this room, an imploding room, and you are being chased around by Satan who wants to glomp you.

I had just finished playing “Oquonie”, which is this really pretty and strange artsy game on the iPhone. So I wanted to create my game in that vein artistically.

I don’t have any artists though, so I decided to make use of the particle effects in Unity.

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 10.13.29 PM

And then I made the character’s colors darker.

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This took me, maybe more or less than 4 hours.

And then as I was about to upload, I realized I didn’t have a single sound in my game. So a quick visit to Freesounds.org, I got really creepy background music, and some guy saying “Hug Me” over and over again.

And then after I uploaded it, someone commented that the reply was a bit annoying because the game was too short, and I’m like, you’re right. I need to make the game longer.

So I forced 11 into the mix, I changed the room into an 11×11 tiled room.

Oh I was the first one to submit, so yeah!

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 5.17.16 PM

Again, do try it out, and tell me what you think: http://purplelilgirl.itch.io/dont-step-on-the-white-tiles-rainbow-edition

 

GLITCH JAM

And then there’s Glitch Jam, which I initially hesitated about joining. It’s all about embracing glitchiness. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

But I decided to do it anyway. My first night was spent getting distracted by rainbow looms, and trying to make my game be gitchy, but not too buggy that it’s no longer playable. That was harder than I thought.

I decided to reuse a lot of the elements from my FuckThisJam entry, because I really liked the rainbow and whiteness of it, I also really liked the music and font, so I reused those too.

My GlitchJam game is called, “The Only Way to Go is Forward”, it is an endless runner, where you can only keep moving forward, Even When You are Unsure of the Road Ahead. The goal of the game is to go as far as you can without falling.

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 4.01.19 PM

The glitch part is, you are unsure if and when the tiles in front you will show up.

This was done, in more or less 2-3 hours, although I’m not that sure about the polish of this one, but since it’s glitch jam, I can always blame any bugs on that.

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 4.25.02 PM

So check out my glitchy game: http://jams.gamejolt.io/glitchjam/games/the-only-way-to-go-is-forward/28115

 

NoJembre is kind enough to make a Let’s Play video of my game.

 

So… what do you think? Is it too glitchy? Or not glitchy enough?

 

NAR8

I’m thinking of doing Nar8 Jam next, since the deadline is a month, and their emphasis is all about story. And since aside from doing these games, another thing that’s been keeping me entertained lately is writing novels and posting them on Wattpad.

So I’m thinking I can do a semi-interactive version of the novel that I’m writing.

 

ANY OTHERS?

So that’s it, so far. Any other game jams I should know about?

Indie Speed Run 2013: “From Strawberry” Dev Post

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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.

Maru Jump!

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So we made another game starring Maru Penguin (check out previous game?).

Maru Penguin had been many things: flash drive, mug, piggie (rather, penguin) bank, wrap, strap, etc…

And now, in our latest game “Maru Jump Lite”, Maru, who keeps craving for fish which he believes exist above the clouds, and finally decided to jump towards the sky to take a look.




Show Maru some love? And download the game, please and thank you? http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/maru-jump-lite/id552254820?mt=8

Even though it’s called Lite, this is a full game, and it’s ad-free. The full version of the game will be available soon in select countries (with some additional features, like *hint* win IRL prizes…? *hint*).

That’s it

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Hi, so yeah, we made a game… 🙂 for a penguin named Maru:

(And his clones…)

He’s actually a flash drive:

Yes, his head is um… removable? But it’s all for a good cause!

So anyway, app description:

Maru Penguin is an adventurous game which combines the elements of action and intelligence. By pulling backward and forward the users can control the extent of jumping. Lots of hidden props can be found in different chapters to help the Maru Penguin to achieve his mission. The cartoon style, the well-known capitals as the main scene of the game and the cute background music creates a delightful atmosphere while playing.

Maru Penguin是一款動作結合益智的冒險遊戲,遊戲操作相當容易,玩家利用指頭觸控畫面中的Maru Penguin,往後拉動控制Maru Penguin的跳躍弧度,關卡中埋藏著各種道具,使Maru Penguin更能輕易地到達終點。遊戲畫面為可愛卡通風格,同時結合亞洲著名城市做為遊戲關卡背景,搭配活潑生動的背景音樂,使玩家能
Maru Penguin一同在全球各大城市展開冒險。

Features
Use of well-known cities as the stage of the game.
Abundant choices of props
Adorable characters
3D environments
Simple instruction is easy for users to get familiar with.
Suitable for user of all ages.

遊戲特色
– 以全球著名城市作為關卡主題。
– 豐富的道具供玩家使用。
– 企鵝肢體活潑逗趣。
– 遊戲以3D展現,畫面精緻度高。
– 操作模式簡易明瞭,操作門檻低。
– 適合0-99歲的各種玩家。

Story background
The global warming has put the Maru Penguin at steak and he has faced the risk of food shortage. With moving his finger the player can aid the penguin to conquer all the obstacles during journey.

故事背景
由於全球氣候暖化,企鵝Maru面臨嚴重的糧食危機,他行遍五大洲只為了找到美味的小魚兒。玩家利用一指神功左右滑動,協助不會飛的Maru 跳躍障礙,成功填飽肚皮!!

And screenies…

And… *cue link*…

Link: http://itunes.apple.com/tw/app/maru-penguin/id521096937?mt=8

Download, please and thank you? 🙂

*sorry Twitter followers for repeat posts*

Mini Tutorial: How to post score of your Unity iOS game to Facebook?

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-without shelling out $65 😉

Well, if you have $65 to spare, just check out Prime31’s Social Networking plugin (you can even get Twitter!).

Link: http://www.prime31.com/unity/

If you don’t, like 1-broke-girl/me, read on…

There are two parts to this, Unity side and Xcode side. We must find a way for Unity and Xcode to be friends and talk to one another, you know call each others’ functions, access each others’ variables etc.

First let’s take advantage of NSUserDefaults and PlayerPrefs to save some variables (you may encrypt the score variable if you are afraid of cheaters).

PlayerPrefs in Unity…

PlayerPrefs.SetString(“score”, score.ToString());

… can be read in Xcode using…

NSUserDefaults *defaults = [NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults];
NSString *score = [defaults objectForKey:@”score”];

There, we know how to pass variables, what about functions…?

In order to do that, I read this tut, which is in Simplified Chinese!  (http://xys289187120.blog.51cto.com/3361352/705415). The gist of that tutorial is that you create this other class (let’s just call it Facebook.cs):

using UnityEngine;  
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;  

public class Facebook : MonoBehaviour {

    [DllImport(“__Internal”)]  
     private static extern void _PressButton0 ();  

     public static void ActivateButton0 ()  
     {  if (Application.platform != RuntimePlatform.OSXEditor)   
        {   _PressButton0 ();  
        }  
     }  
}

The _PressButton0() will actually call some code in Xcode (we’ll get to that).

Someone else in Unity has to call ActivateButton0, a GUI button, perhaps?

if(GUI.Button(new Rect(0, 0, 130, 235), “Facebook”))
{       Facebook.ActivateButton0();
}

So when the player clicks on the GUI button, ActivateButton0() will be called which will in turn call _PressButton0().

But where’s _PressButton0()?

We create a ViewController class in Xcode (let’s just call it MyView.m):

#import “MyView.h”
#import “AppController.h”

@implementation MyView

void _PressButton0()  
{   AppController *appController = (AppController*)[[UIApplication sharedApplication] delegate];

    [appController feedDialogButtonClicked];
}  

@end

So there’s _PressButton0()!

Now let’s do the Facebook related things. Go to Facebook’s Developer site and follow the tutorial: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/mobile/ios/build/

Instead of putting some stuff in ApplicationDidFinishLaunchingWithIOptions… I placed everything in a function I called feedDialogButtonClicked.

– (void) feedDialogButtonClicked {
   
    facebook = [[Facebook alloc] initWithAppId:@”221872691249521” andDelegate:self];
   
    NSUserDefaults *defaults = [NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults];
    if ([defaults objectForKey:@”FBAccessTokenKey”]
        && [defaults objectForKey:@”FBExpirationDateKey”]) {
        facebook.accessToken = [defaults objectForKey:@”FBAccessTokenKey”];
        facebook.expirationDate = [defaults objectForKey:@”FBExpirationDateKey”];
    }
   
    /**
    if (!)
    {   ;
    }
    **/
   
    [[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] synchronize];
    NSString *level = [defaults objectForKey:@”level”];
    NSString *score = [defaults objectForKey:@”score”];
   
    NSMutableDictionary *params =
    [NSMutableDictionary dictionaryWithObjectsAndKeys:
     [NSString stringWithFormat: @”I just scored %@ in the %@ Level of Maru Penguin!”, score, level], @”name”,
     @”“, @”caption”,
     @”Get Maru Penguin for free in the iTunes Store”, @”description”,
     @”http://itunes.apple.com/tw/app/maru-penguin/id521096937?mt=8”, @”link”,
     @”http://a2.mzstatic.com/us/r1000/082/Purple/v4/3a/42/b5/3a42b5dc-5452-9dde-cdc8-24e24fb82363/486SkNsbbo2zaF3glfCuo0-temp-upload.iomrjeon.320×480-75.jpg”, @”picture”,
     nil]; 
    ;
}

I had a little problem with fbDidLogin (the one mentioned in the tutorial), good thing this other tutorial solved it for me: http://ebrentnelson.blogspot.com/2012/02/fbdidlogin-never-calledwhy.html

I ended up commenting out:

/**
    if (!)
    {   ;
    }
    **/

Because I seem to be able to post feeds to my Facebook wall even without it (don’t know why, anyone care to explain?).

Another helpful link: How to include a link in my feed-post using FBConnect from iPhone app? (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5574433/how-to-include-a-link-in-my-feed-post-using-fbconnect-from-iphone-app) This answer in this post explains stuff that you can include in your Feed Dialog pretty clearly.

And um, I think that is it. That bunch of codes can post your scores from Unity iOS to Facebook.

Now my other problem is, how to add a share link to the feed my app posted? Anyone, help?

Also check out an old blog post of mine about how to post pictures from Cocos2D iPhone to Facebook: http://purplelilgirl.tumblr.com/post/9406805856/howtoaddfacebooktococos2diphone

EDIT:

Since generated feeds don’t get the share button (I Google-d for 2 days and found nothing, at the end of it, it was a Which Avengers are You? quiz that helped me solve my problem) , do you know what I eventually did? I went back to that Cocos2D blog post and did it that way (That’s what the Avengers app did, by the way, I’m Hawkeye :D). I posted a photo of the results screen, lol, which is actually what my boss suggested in the first place. And since when you post photos, you can include captions (no advertising though), so there. Problem solved -ish.

EDIT:

Okay, I am apparently not a very good Googler, since only saw this today: http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/122681-Free-facebook-Plugin-for-Unity-iOS Free, Facebook, Unity, iOS, all the keywords that I’ve been searching for, all along was in the Unity Forums!

.

.

.

By the way, we made an app (the one in the sample), it’s a game and it’s free and it stars a penguin named Maru in search of yummy fishies around the world (so far he only got to Asia)…

Link: http://itunes.apple.com/tw/app/maru-penguin/id521096937?mt=8