Author Archive: Chris

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Born Again Indie

August 14, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

For a good year and a half now, I’ve wandered around, trying to figure out what it is I want to do and what I would like to accomplish with my Indie dreams.  First a little back story.

I left a high paid, high stress job as a director of technology at a large media company in April 2013.  The change was forced on me after my eyesight began to deteriorate rapidly, and I could no longer execute my role effectively.  I was at the top of my game, and I was kicking butt, and then it was all over within a short two week span of days.  I sat at home and thought, OK that was interesting.  Now what?

I decided to do what I do best. The one thing I truly enjoy. The one thing I’d NOT done the past 5 years. I decided to dust off the old programming skills and make some games again.  I did a quick port of an old Mahjong game I made for PC a few years back, to iOS, as a warm up.

My foray into mobile / iOS development was pretty typical.  Basically a waste of time and energy (although, as a generally positive person, I did learn a lot and I did make some pretty cool code).  To date, I’ve made around $500 from the Mahjong game. I put this failure down to a couple of things.  First and foremost, it’s just too damn difficult to get a game noticed on the app store, unless you have some serious marketing dollars, or get lucky.  I don’t think it was a quality issue.  The game was polished and played well.  And looking at what does do well on the app store, quality doesn’t seem to be a factor, always.  No, the key is exposure, plain and simple.  Getting your game ranted at by PewDePie, or one of the other sweary, game celebs on Youtube seems to be where it’s at.

Additionally, making stuff that people actually like is also pretty key.  Now that sounds a bit obvious, but if you’re wanting to tap the mass market, then you have to make mass market stuff.  Mahjong isn’t mass market, and it doesn’t have Kim Kardashian in it.  Like any sort of media, you can be an artist or a boy band, and you can make niche stuff, or crap for mass consumption.  Now, having said all that, there are always exceptions and a seemingly, unfathomable random element to all this. Sometimes a game comes along that’s so good that it just captures the imagination and actually attains a small level of success, or not.

After my experience with Mahjong, I tried a number of other tactics. I got distracted making some web sites, which was somewhat interesting, and then I decided to sell out and try to make small, playable, highly commercial, mass market games .. like a million other devs.  I spent about 2 months making a couple of cute, fun little games with kittens and hampsters, and by the end of it, I was so down about my day-to-day existence, that I couldn’t even bring myself to upload them to Apple for approval.  I still haven’t, months later.

I realized I was completely disillusioned with mobile and specifically iOS.  It’s a mugs game.  It’s heartbreaking to make something you’re invested in and see it immediately buried, or worse, sell your soul and make crap shovelware, hoping to hit the lottery.  I completely stopped developing for 2 months, and moped around doing contract work.  The break did me good, as did the money.

And then, one day, I woke up and knew what I wanted to do.  If I was going to put ANY time or ANY money into a new project, it was going to be a project that I wanted to do.  Commercial or not, it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that I am entertained, and that I am making something that I want to make.  Now that view of things sounds a little self centered, and it is, and it’s OK.  It has come down to a simple fact.  I really, REALLY enjoy programming games, and the twisty, ill-conceived adventure I’ve spent the last year on, has sucked all that love and enjoyment out of it.  I have lost the thread, big time, and it has basically ruined the process of making games for me.

So I sat down and gave some serious thought to what I’d like to do.  Do I just throw in the towel and concentrate on contract work, or go find another full time job?  Do I take up gardening? Do I become a Naturopathic Doctor (don’t ask)? Or do I quit whinging and make something for myself?  I decided to make something for myself.

I have a list of genres and games I’d like to make.  I’ve had the list for a long time.  Over the years I’ve made a lot of commercial games, professionally, and some of them hold very fond memories, and some genres are very dear to me.  I posed myself a question.  If I could make ANYTHING, what would I make?  A platformer? A text adventure game?  A classic scrolling shoot em up?  An RPG?  Why yes! All of those, of course!  This was a revelation to me.  The notion that I could basically sit down and create anything I fancied was like someone pulling back a blindfold.  I started to get excited about programming again, and so I picked one and began.

So, here I am, four weeks into my first game as a born again indie.  I am writing the game for desktop computers only (although my code is basically cross platform, and could work on anything later on, with a bit of platform specific work), and I am excited to get to work in the mornings.  I feel like I am free of the shackles I imposed on myself the past year and a half.  I have no agenda other than to make something I like, and have fun doing it.  I’m doing some of the best coding of my long career, and every day is a blizzard of problems to solve, good and bad.  For better or worse, every day is a challenge in the best possible way.

Introducing MUSED.COM

April 9, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

Hey pop pickers!  I launched another new web site a couple of weeks ago.  It’s called Mused and is full of all sorts of silliness I find on the web.  There are movies and video and music and pictures, and pretty much anything else I find entertaining.

Be warned, my tastes are somewhat eclectic, and some say mildly offensive at times, so there you go.

Mused Logo

I’ve Been Blogging on Gamasutra

February 11, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

I’ve been writing the occasional article on my experiences becoming an indie developer, and posting them over at Gamasutra.

Rather than cross post them here, feel free to check them out over on the Gamasutra web site.

Staying Focused and Motivated as an Indie Developer Working Alone.

Mentoring And Why It Matters To The Games Business.

It’s Not All Rainbows and Unicorns. Thoughts on Life, The Universe, and Indie Development. 

Enjoy!

Larry Niven – Tales of Known Space, Reading Order

February 3, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

I’m a big Space Opera / Sci-fi fan, and an equally big Larry Niven fan.

I recently decided to re-read a bunch of Larry Niven stories from his Known Space Series, but was at a complete loss about the read order of the various stories, short stories and novels that encompass the timeline.

So, after a fair bit of research (before I found a great reference here), I put together a solid read order for all the main stories on the Known Space timeline. There is a bit of jumping around and pulling chapters out of certain books, but this is what I ended up with.

  1. The Coldest Place
  2. Becalmed in Hell
  3. Wait it Out
  4. Eye of an Octopus
  5. How the Heroes Die
  6. The Jigsaw Man
  7. World of Ptavvs
  8. At the Bottom of a Hole
  9. Intent to Deceive
  10. Death By Ecstasy
  11. The Defenseless Dead
  12. Phsstphok (from Protector)
  13. ARM
  14. The Patchwork Girl
  15. The Woman in Del Rey Crater
  16. Cloak of Anarchy
  17. The Ethics of Madness (start thru “2583.8 PLATEAU”)
  18. Interlude (from Protector)
  19. Vandervecken (from Protector)
  20. A Gift From Earth (novel)
  21. Protector (from Protector)
  22. The Ethics of Madness (“2583.8 PLATEAU” thru end)
  23. The Warriors
  24. Telepath’s Dance (from “Man-Kzin Wars VIII”)
  25. Madness Has Its Place
  26. Choosing Names (from “Man-Kzin Wars VIII”)
  27. Neutron Star
  28. A Relic of Empire
  29. At the Core
  30. Flatlander
  31. The Handicapped
  32. Grendel
  33. Juggler of Worlds (Chapters: “They” thru “Besieged”)
  34. The Borderland of the Sol (from “Crashlander”)
  35. Juggler of Worlds (Chapter: “Besieged”)
  36. Fleet of Worlds (novel)
  37. Juggler of Worlds (Chapter: “Becalmed”)
  38. Procrustes (from “Crashlander”)
  39. Ghost (8 sections from “Crashlander”)
  40. Juggler of Worlds (Chapter: “Betrayed”)
  41. Fly-By-Night (from “Man-Kzin Wars IX”)
  42. The Soft Weapon
  43. Juggler of Worlds (Chapters: “The Outsiders” thru “Epilogue”)
  44. Destroyer of Worlds (novel)
  45. The Color of Sunfire (short story published on LarryNiven.net)
  46. Betrayer of Worlds (novel)
  47. There is a Tide
  48. Ringworld
  49. Ringworld Engineers
  50. Ringworld Throne
  51. Ringworld’s Children
  52. Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld
  53. The Hunting Park (from “Man-Kzin Wars XI”)
  54. Safe at Any Speed

Enjoy!

Introducing Indielicious.com

January 10, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

logo_400_black

I just launched a new website called Indielicious. It’s all about the Indie Game scene, something very close to my heart. In case you don’t know, Indie Games are cool. They are made by super creative individuals and teams, who mke games for the right reasons. Believe me, I’ve been involved with enough companies and projects over the years, that were all about the wrong reasons.

The indie game scene reminds me of back in the day, when I first started writing game, in the early 1980s. It was all young guys and gals, working for themselves in their bedrooms, making games that they wanted to make. I guess that this way of making games has never really gone away, rather I think I was the one who went away. I went on a wild journey through corporate, big box, sometimes AAA video game development. I got lost in the weeds for many years, chained to big companies, suckling at the big publishers teats (eew!). But now I am back. I’m full time indie again. I”m working from my home, listening to Radio 1 over the Internet, drinking cups of tea, hanging out with my dev buddies, and MAKING GAMES!

I’m also running this new website. Go check it out!

Indielicious.com

Life

January 3, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

Personally, I believe in a holistic approach to health and living life. Think healthy thoughts, be happy, eat and drink whatever you fancy in moderation, but try to make generally “healthy” choices. Enjoy a mixed, diverse and balanced diet if possible. Fruit, veg, water, cake. Exercise a little, be active, walk, laugh, love and fuck. Try to enjoy life, not for the material things, but for the intangibles. Be kind to yourself, and don’t beat yourself up over silly stuff. This is my philosophy, and I don’t really care what anyone else thinks.

Cool Emulator And Gargoyles

August 10, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

This ia a rather cool Sega Genesis emulator. Play all your old favorites in the browser!

http://www.ssega.com/

Here’s a link to an old game I wrote almost 20 years ago! It’s called Gargoyles, and I wrote it for Disney back in 94/95.

http://www.ssega.com/?p=702

There’s a cool cheat in there that plays a techno track and shows spinning vector balls. I managed to slip it into the game, with the help of a few accomplices 🙂

Play the game and hit pause [Enter]. Then type D A L L S A L L. The original Easter egg was C A L L B A L L. Anyway, enjoy the techno track made by my good friend Patrick Collins!

Build and Deploy Your Marmalade App to Your Development Device.

May 21, 2013 | By | 7 Comments

NOTE:  Marmalade has been updated a few times since I wrote this guide.  They now have the HUB and stuff.  Some of the info below will still be relevant, but some probably wont be.

I’ve been playing with Marmalade, and needed to set up a bunch of iOS/Apple crap to get the whole thing working. There’s info out there on the web, but it’s scattered around. As I worked through this ridiculously complex and obtuse process, I made notes to share. Hopefully this will be useful to some poor, hapless programmer somewhere!

Build and deploy your Marmalade application to your development device.

This is for Windows. I have no idea about Mac and XCode.

Thee steps should be repeated for Ad Hoc or Distribution too.

Go to; https://developer.apple.com/
Sign in or create an account
Click first link "iOS Dev Center"
Under the menu "iOS Developer Program" (far right), click "Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles"

Certificates
------------

You'll need a .certsigningrequest file.
	Run the Marmalade "Marmalade iPhone Sign Request" Tool
		All Programs -> Marmalade -> x.x -> Tools
	You'll need your name and email you used to register as a dev with Apple
	This tool will generate 2 files;
		\x.x\tools\iPhoneSignRequest\signingrequest.csr
		\x.x\s3e\deploy\plugins\iphone\certificates\developer_identity.key

On Apple Dev Site ..

Click on "Certificates" in the top left menu.
Click on the [+] to add a new certificate

Make sure you have the Intermediate Worldwide Developer certificate installed.
	Click on the "Worldwide Developer Relations Certificate Authority" link.
	Download and "Open" the .cer file.
	Click "Install", and follow the Wizard.
		Use default settings and Click "Finish" when the cert has been added.	 

Select "iOS App Development" (or "App Store and Ad Hoc")
Click [Continue]
Read the instructions.
Click [Continue]
Click [Choose File], and find and select the "signingrequest.csr" file you just created
Click [Generate]
Read the instructions
Click [Download]
Find and open the ios_development.cer (or ios_distribution.cer) file you just generated
Install the cert, the same way you installed the "Intermediate Certificate", earlier
Copy the ios_development.cer file to your Marmalade certificates folder
	X:\_Marmalade\x.x\s3e\deploy\plugins\iphone\certificates
Rename the copied ios_development.cer to developer_identity.cer (or distribution_identity.cer)

You're done with certs!

Identifiers
-----------

Click the [+] to add new App ID
Read the instructions
Enter name of the App
Make your feature selections.  Defaults should be Game Center and In-App Purchases, enabled.
Select the App ID Prefix
Select "Explicit App ID"
Enter "Bundle ID".  Usually something like; com.companyname.appname
Click [Continue]
Click [Submit]
Click [Done]

Devices
-------

You must register the devices you want to deploy on.
Click [+] to add new device
Enter a name for your device
Enter the UDID for your device
Click [Continue]
Click [Register]

Provisioning Profile
--------------------

Download and install the "iPhone Configuration Utility", from here; http://support.apple.com/kb/dl1466

Click [+] to add new Provisioning Profile
Read the instructions
Select "iOS App Development"
Click [Continue]
Select your App ID.  The ones you created earlier should be in the drop down menu
Click [Continue]
Select your certificate.
Click [Continue]
Select all devices you want to deploy the app to
Click [Continue]
Enter a Profile Name
Click [Generate]
Click [Download]

The provisioning Profile should be copied into the data folder in your project folder

Fire up MS Dev Studio
	Set your build configurations to "GCC ARM Release", and build and RUN your project
	The Marmalade System Deployment Tool should launch
		Click "Stage: Configuration" on the right
		Click [Add ], and give your config a name
		For your new config, work you way through the menu on the right and set everything up how you want
			Enter the App Bundle ID (com.company.appname)
			Set the provisioning profile to the one you saved earlier to your data folder.
		Click [Save MKB] when you are done.
		Select App name under "Stage: Deployment"
			Select "Release" and "Package"
			Click [Run]
			An .ipa file should now exist in your deployments folder
				\project\build_project_vc11\deployments\Project Name\iphone\release			

Connect your iPad or iPhone to your PC
Find and double click the .mobileprovision file you just downloaded
This will launch the "iPhone Configuration Utility"
	Click [Add] in the top left
	For "Files of Type", select "Mobile Devices (.deviceinfo)", and navigate to your .deviceinfo file.  Click [Open]
	Click [Add] in the top left
	For "Files of Type", select "Mobile Application (.ipa)", and navigate to your .ipa file.  Click [Open]
	Select "Devices" from left menu
	Select your device on the left
	Click the "Provisioning Profiles" tab
	Select the provisioning profile and click [Install]
	Your device is now provisioned to run your app
	Click the "Applications" tab
	Select your game from the list and click [Install]
	Wait ...
	Your app should now be installed to your device

You Live, You Die

May 16, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

The living part of that is the important thing. What you do has to be rewarding. What is the point of living a life, without feeding that amazing brain, and all your sense, with as much good stuff as possible. This is the reason we’re alive. God knows, nothing else makes sense! Experience, love, feel, smell, care, eat, fuck, play, work, all of it should be done with a hunger, driven by certain death. And on that happy note, I give you Kittens!

Root Beer From Scratch

April 10, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

No extracts or concentrates.