Practice Makes Perfect?

Practice makes perfect is a saying that is everywhere. No matter what you wanna do, especially in game design. Do code, art, design, sound, anything requires a lot of practice. But finding the correct places to practice can be extremely difficult.

One place I have been loving to go for learning new art skills is Digital Tutors. They have a lot of great tutorials available for both 3d modeling and 2d drawing in things like Photoshop and Illustrator. I also use quite often Lynda Tutorials. Both of these sites are going to have a lot of tutorials to expand your knowledge.

Of course, besides learning more about the software and drawing styles, drawing in general is going to really help. One thing I have started doing is going on reddit.com . Specifically the subreddits called SketchDaily and DailySketch. Similar names and similar purposes, they post things every day that you can go ahead and draw, then you can post them and get critique on what you did! A lot of great feedback gets posted here, and it’s definitely a great community.

Those are just the art websites I’ve been looking into recently in order to start improving my art skills in order to match my coding. I’m hoping to continue evolving my art skills and start doing some rough digital concept art for the game I want to start working on!

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Building Up My Presence

As I start working on more and more programming, I realize that there is one big thing I’m missing. A proper portfolio site. I want to be able to show more of what I’m doing off to the world. So that’s something interesting I’ll be able to be working on so that I can show off all of the different programming work that I’ve gotten through.

Speaking of things I’m working on, there’s a lot of new stuff I’ve been doing lately. One big thing is I am now the Lead Programmer for my senior capstone class at UW – Stout. This involves a lot of responsibilities, and is taking a lot of time. But it is really great and let’s me put forth my best effort in the project. I’ll be positing pictures or videos of my work soon!

I’m also working on my own separate project. Some days I need to come home and be able to work on something that’s just for me, and so I have a new project that I’m working on getting a basic design for right now.

A lot of stuff I’m working on, but sadly not much I’m able to show right now. I’m hoping for my next post I’ll have more to show off and really get into what I’m doing and what I hope for my career.

Balancing Work and School

Whew! It has been awhile since I’ve typed something up here. Definitely need to keep on a schedule. I’ve started scheduling reminders for myself in my todo list organizer Wunderlist, so that way I’ll be able to keep writing posts every other week.

So what is this post about? How busy life is! It’s absolutely insane. I’m working two jobs, taking 16 credits of classes for college, and trying to work on game design projects in my own time as well. Definitely a busy schedule. So the question is, how am I keeping it all together?

I have two main tools that I’m using right now. The big first one is Wunderlist, which I mentioned before. This is where I have lists on lists on lists. I have three big sections, which is School, Todo, and Game Design. Each one is super important and I set due dates on every single thing. So obviously for school I’ll put all of my homework which has its own due dates, but for stuff like my Todo and Game Design things, all of those have to be self-made times. And really, I do feel a sense of disappointment when I don’t make the deadline for them. Sometimes self-imposed deadlines are the ones you feel the most.

The other tool I use a lot of is Google Calendar. I schedule out 80% of my day, between my different job and my classes. I also ended up scheduling time to sleep. I allow myself a certain amount of time in the day to sleep, and sometimes I actually make that entire time! But I also make sure I have time to get done my homework and work on my own project.

These are just a couple of the tools I use to make sure I get everything done in my life! Let me know, what sort of tools do you guys use out there to keep your world in check?

Cross Discipline is Crazy

In game design there is a lot of separation. There are writers, programmers, artists, designers, sound people, the list goes on and on. Through school I have been studying the computer science side of things, so getting deep into code to make games happen. It’s a really fun and crazy thing, and I should just super focus on this and never try anything else ever, right?

Well this post would be really short if the answer to that was yes.

I’m not the type of person who’s going to do just one thing, I’m just not wired that way. This is something that has a good sized list of pros and cons.

A lot of people are really good at one thing. Maybe programming AI, maybe modeling characters, maybe drawing 8 bit art. And the people who do these things really well do these things REALLY REALLY well. It’s a very hire-able thing, to be an expert in one specific area.

But for some reason that’s just not what I want to do. So to start I have been learning a lot of different areas of programming. I’ve written a post about my adventure in learning programming AI, and I’ve also been learning multiple engines and how to program gameplay, AI, etc. But over the past couple weeks I’ve been working on even more. For my 3d Game Design class I created a pitch document which implemented a lot of my general design knowledge. I also have a digital drawing tablet, and so I’ve been working hard on improving my art skill so that I can just have a better understanding of what my teammates who focus in art do!

So which one is better? Well neither, there’s a great place for both. A specialist is going to be looked upon as an expert in their field, and so will get the jobs at the bigger – medium sized companies that are looking for someone who is amazing at a certain one or two things. But for smaller teams, say with 2-4 people, it’s helpful for someone like me who doesn’t focus on one single thing, but tends to be a jack-of-all. This is something I’ve especially noticed in my personal projects when it’s just me and an artist, I have to know a lot about design and programming at that point for us to make a decent game.

But what do you guys think? Is it really a bad idea to try the jack-of-all route? Let me know what you think!

Getting Good….at Unity

In the gaming world there are people that do well, and people that don’t do as well. Assholes of the internet and gaming will tell the less good people that they need to “Get Good.” Gamers however aren’t the only ones who need to get good, game developers need to get good as well. We are given hundreds of tools and we need to be able to pick some and get really good at using them so that we can make amazing games.

My current tool of choice is Unity. I’ve been working on a project that’s close to being announced for a few months, and it’s forced me to really dive into what Unity has to offer. I’ll talk now about two features I really love in Unity.

UI:

The UI features in Unity are pretty amazing. First off is the wide variety that exists. You can place images, buttons, text, and even input fields. The best thing about this is that inside the canvas that all of the UI exists in, you’re able to set up specific things to make the UI set specifically. For example, you can set the UI to be always shown from the perspective of the camera. So say if you have a camera that moves around, the UI will still appear to stay in the same place! It also has fantastic ways to setup to be scalable, so for someone like me working on a mobile title there is nothing better because of the wide range of phones and other mobile devices.

Plugins:

Plugins have turned out to play a huge roll in my current project. The plugin in particular is the Google Play Games Unity Plugin. This plugin provides an easy way to use the Google Play Games services inside of Unity. As mentioned before, my current project is a mobile game, and so being able to connect with Google Play Games to create a seamless multiplayer experience is amazing. This is a service I have played around with before with Android programming in general, and I’m super excited that it is usable with Unity, all thanks to a simple plugin.

In short, Unity is a great tool, and it’s something that a lot of new game developers jump in to learn how to make games. However, it’s also something that old developers will jump in as well, because of the host of options Unity gives you!

What Do I Want To Learn

As a game design / programming student, there’s a lot about both things I want to learn. I want to learn how the design process works more in depth as time passes, as well as more programming techniques that I’ll be able to use on my games that I make in the future.

So one area of programming and design I’m super interested in is Artificial Intelligence. I want to make some super interesting artificial intelligence that I could potentially use in games, or at least learn the process of creating these AI in order to be better at it in general.

So today I have to show off two crappy things that really aren’t hard at all, especially considering I’m using Unity to do all of this, but they’re basic stepping stones for what I’m hoping to do.

The first type of AI I’m creating involves top-down movement. I’m basically seeing what happens with it and where I can go for interesting AI. This first gif shows just a basic sit there and take damage thing.

AttackAndKill

And this second gif shows an enemy that is moving around and attacking you as well.

Follow_and_Shoot

As I get more in depth into these AI (and stop writing blog posts at 4:30 in the morning) I’ll start writing about how I’m creating these in Unity and what interesting things I’m actually learning. But for now this is where I’m at! I’m hoping to make a lot of interesting progress soon!