Monday, July 19, 2010

The Morning Coffee: Status Update

Hello, just thought I would take some time during my morning coffee and paper reading to give a little status update. Well not so much coffee and paper these days as coffee and internet news reading.

Every morning I usually sit down at my computer with my coffee and read industry news, blogs, articles, and do some web surfing. It's a good way to keep myself up-to-date with the game industry. Lately I've been looking into the Android games market, which looks very promising, especially for a Java veteran like myself.

Recently I've been engaged in a Java 2D game project with an artist friend of mine. We have been making slow but steady progress, as my full-time job and summer family activities have taken up mush of my time. For this project Java has proven a more than capable language and platform for 2D games, with hardware acceleration using DirectX and Opengl allowing for good performance. There are a few subtle points such as which collections classes to use (i.e. Lists versus Sets versus Maps, and don't forget queues). Care must be taken in removing objects from these collections as they all are expensive except for using queues.

I've been toying with a few articles to post here to help beginners and veterans alike. A couple being bare bones getting started with directx, and how to achieve different player movement styles in games. These have been slow going as my time is quiet precious. But I do hope to have these posts published at some point.

The most important thing I think for any indie or hobbyist game programmer is to just make something, it doesn't have to be extravagant or the next triple A title or even next generation graphics. Games are still engaging even without spiffy graphics. These are some of my words of wisdom and they apply as much to myself as hopefully they do for all my readers. A finished polish game even a text-based one is worth a lot and helps to provide confidence and understanding into the process of completing a game.

As positive encouragement you can always go back and update past abandoned projects. I know I find myself looking back at my 100 or so java projects in eclipse and occasionally looking at my code and updating a few lines here or there, fixing some issue recoding somethings. It helps to relieve some of the stress of other projects when they get halted or uninteresting or just have no direction left.

Another word of wisdom is that prototyping games can be done with a text-based game. I find them easy to write and a good test of ones game designing skills. As a programmer I sometimes find it hard to work with a game idea without adequate art content but it's better to either forgo waiting for that process to happen by using placeholder images or just by simply doing a console prototype. Even if you have a text-based prototype of a game that can be a good step forward into making it a 2D or 3D game. It is more valuable than a completed game design document, in my humble opinion. And you can use any text-based games you've made as stepping stones for larger game projects.

So in conclusion of my coffee and morning blog post. I will be touching more on game design and mechanics as they are a passion of mine, as well as words of wisdom from my experience as a hobbyist game developer. I would also like to touch on game engine design in the future so look for some posts about that as well.

Good luck to all the indie and hobbyist game developers out there! Keep up the good work!