The Schick Hydro Indie Game Jam

Last week Schick Hydro partnered with Playcrafting to put on a indie game jam at Simple Machine in New York City. The planning and announcement for this jam was confidential until a little ago, so I could not talk about till recently.

We came up with a cool game called Calkarious.

Calkarious is a cooperative top-down shooter where two players must defend a powerful brain coral under constant siege by bioluminescent creatures.

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Set inside a massive sphere of water in deep space –– Calkarious
involves rapid decision making and quick maneuvers as players struggle
against 6 different colored enemies.

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Each enemy can only be killed by a shot matching its own color, and players
will need to constantly switch up their attacks to survive.

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A third player can even take control of the brain coral itself (with the mouse), and
change its color to absorb similarly colored enemies. Absorb enough
enemies, and you’ll be able to release a devastating pulse attack.

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The brain coral can only take three hits before it is destroyed. Players need to work
together to defend this magnificent coral for as long as possible and
achieve the highest score.

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The team for this game jam comprised a group of rockstars game designers and developers! Our team consisted of three of Eos Interactive’s team members Jose, Bobby and John. We also had a the VR game design rockstar behind Paulo’s Wing , Kevin Harper. Last but not least, the last member of the team was me.

One the most interesting constraints we had for the game jam was getting our content to work inside of an arcade cabinet. The arcade cabnet was called Polycade and it was made for creating custom games on a custom cabinet.

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We wanted to use every button in the arcade cabinet for our game.

Polycontrols Our goal of utilizing every button led us to the game mechanic of shooting enemies with the corresponding color and moving the brain coral with the ball on the arcade cabinet to get the brain coral out of danger.

 

Calkarious is free to play today on itch and will be available to play in an arcade cabinet, the best way to play it, on December 15th a Playcrafting’s 2017 Bit Awards.

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Come root on my first VR project Don’t Look Away for the Bit Awards.

Any who this past weekend was fun but I cannot wait to return to Museum Multiverse, my VR puzzle platforming epic! I have had so many cool things to show everyone about the game soon!

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Week 3: Getting the Oculus Controller Working and 360 Videos are Awesome

Let me start this post by saying 360 photography is awesome!

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I have received my New Gear 360 Camera this week and I have been taking photos everyday since and it is so much fun to capture the entirety of the moment in a picture and my life has some really silly moments!

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Also this week, I have incorporated the Gear VR controller into Museum Multiverse. I wanted to find a comfortable way of moving a player in 3D space and I think I found it with Easy Input for Gear VR from the Unity asset store. This made moving a Gameobject very easy in Unity with the Gear VR controller. I have decided to use the trackpad on the Gear VR controller to move the player around because it feels more like a joystick on a normal controller.

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My next challenge is linking up my character’s movement animations with the controller’s movement.

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I also worked with Ernest to get the layout of the museum world. If you’d like to learn more about this he has written an excellent blog post on the subject here!

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Releasing My First Video Game Don’t Look Away VR

On January 25 2017 My friends and I released a VR experience called Don’t Look Away for the Gear VR.

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We have been working on this project for a accumulation of 7 months and for many of us on the team it was our first video game we have ever released. It was a long and difficult journey. We learned, so much and had so much fun, but it was time to set our little VR baby out in the wild for others to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We released our project only expecting to get maybe 500 downloads of our experience. However we were pleasantly freaked out to see that our downloads for Don’t Look Away were over 67,000 after the first two weeks. Soon after showing Don’t Look Away at PAX East our downloads reached 100,000+.

Our pet project was now unprecedented success and we had no idea why we were more successful than our mentor’s project Swing Star VR. In hind sight I think we did couple of things right that set us up for success. I’d like to share these tips in the hopes it can help future indie game devs looking to make their dreams come true as well.

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  • Tip 1: Reaching out to Youtubers before the game release.

Before our game’s release we contacted a ton of Youtuber’s who specialized in reviewing or doing commentary on VR games. We offered them a free copy of the game before release to review our project and told them them they cannot release the video until a day or two before the game came out on the Oculus store. It is important to give the access early to Youtuber’s in order to entice them into creating a video for your game. The Youtuber that releases a video first on a new game gets the most views, so it is a race to finish their work and getting the video ready for the embargo date. This helps them with getting viewers excited to see a new game before its release which bumps up their subscribers and it help you as the creator to get your game in front of as many people as you can within your release window. This way potential buyers can see your game through a Youtube lets play and pick the same game up when its released later that week. How did we get the contacts of all those Youtuber’s you might ask? It was just a process of going on Youtube and finding reviews we liked then contacting them through their contact page on Youtube.

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  • Tip 2: Going to PAX East

Going to events like PAX, E3 or Play NYC is an awesome way to get hundreds of people playing your game within a small amount of time. Going to these events are great because you get to see real people trying out your game. You can see the low and high points of your game. It is also just rewarding to see people react to your work. Seeing the excitement and fear on a player’s face for a feature or level you’ve worked on for months is a necessary cathartic exercise in making interactive art. Along with this benefit, if you are unable to regularly play test your game in a smaller venues like Playcrafting’s Expos or NYU’s Playtest Thursdays on the East coast,  going to these event are necessary in order to finding and fixing level and design problems within a game. Usually we as developers are so focused on making our project that we create things in vacuums. Showing your project gives you the real world player feedback you’d need to improve the experience and the gratification that your work matters.

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  • Tip 3: Lean on your support groups in your area

We in NYC have an organization called Playcrafting NYC and the community in this group was very important in not only getting Don’t Look Away ready for release, but actually forming the group to start the project! Everyone on the team of Don’t Look Away I either met or heard about through Playcrafting. The Playcrafting community was made to empower game developers to make and finish games. Organizations or meetup groups like this are rooting for your success because it’s a win-win scenario for all parties involved. If a hit game is released within the community that drives more buzz around that group and if you’re making a game you can lean on the community for getting the word out, getting help on hard problems or just finding talented committed people to join your team. If you do not have a community group like this around you, I’d say make one. I guarantee you someone within your area either wants to make a game or app and does not know where to start or is making a project siloed and could use a community of even just one for support. Groups like this start with just a few people and grow, so if you’re making a game find or make a group to support your process on finishing your experience.

Currently, Don’t Look Away is near is a couple thousand shy of 200,000 downloads and players of the experience have collectively spent over 930 days within our work. Honestly, it is easy to put a my face to this project as the lead creator of it, but projects like Don’t Look Away almost always has a team that makes it happen and that is why I’d like to take this time out to thank everyone who has worked on this project and stuck with it to the end. Andy LohmannBobby (Robert Canciello), Jose Zambrano, Andrew Struck-Marcell,  Sean Hyland and everyone that help in their small way. Don’t Look Away would not have been without you all.

We are getting ready for our next project so stay tuned to our progress on Twitter and Facebook

Try out Don’t Look Away (here).

Am I Brainwashed? A Responce to Seth Godin’s Manifesto

I was fooled. Fooled into being average and thinking that is ok. I have been brainwashed by society. Just because society doesn’t have room for a million Steve Jobs that think differently. If you remember your mother telling you that you are special, but when you go to school you are grouped in generalized and creativity sterilized. Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable talks about the problem of being a individual in a public educational system that is made to have everyone exiting thinking and acting the same.

What does Seth mean by the title brainwashed? Are you brainwashed?

What I understand from Godin’s ideas of being brainwashed is that we have been programed to become cogs in the machine of society and not to be unique.

What is the function of public education?

What I believe public education’s purpose is, is to give every child the common knowledge to function in society. Now, if these students are good enough they go on to college majoring in something that they are interested in and become more of a individual from there. What has happen now is that everyone needs to have a college degree in order to have a typical job so college has turned into another form of public education in which they are standardized and no one is rewarded for being a individual.

What is art?
Is that act of coming to the Flatiron school your art? Or are you looking for us to draw you a map?

I believe art is any product one has put a ton of labor and passion in; something one would like to share with the world. Art can be anything, a well personalized work desk or even one’s code. I feel as though what I have created in this program my art, not the act of coming to the school.

Why are you here?

I am here at the Flatiron School because I want to learn how to program, but I could not afford nor wanted to go through a formal education. I want to be great and creative in the work world and I feel as though I cannot do that at any position besides coding in this day and age.

What is the resistance?
What does failure mean? How is failure at Flatiron different than what you are used to?

My resistance within this program is just learning enough to become a great coder. Failure for me is not being good enough for a particular field. Failure at Flatiron for me would be soul crushing it is something that would make me a dark sadder failure in life. This is why at this moment The Flatiron School is my life at this moment.

A Talk With a Flatiron Alum

I spoke with my Flatiron School mentor on Monday and it was truly an eye opening experience. My mentor’s name is Daniel Spector. He went from working as an accountant to becoming a coder from the Flatiron School.  He now works at Lifebooker, a company which is basically a Groupon for beauty deals. I did not know what to think of a mentor meeting so I was a nerd and created questions for the occasion.

My first question was what was his coding background before Flatiron Daniel had zero coding experience all he did was a little HTML for his job. He did went to a lot of meet ups like the NYC.rb meets ups to learn about coding. He actually off handedly mentioned that he got his job offer from Lifebooker from a connection he met a the meet up, so go to meet ups.

I then proceeded to ask him what were the first could of days like at his job and his response was very eye opening! Apparently, at most junior developer positions you actually are not expected to know anything for the first couple of months. naturally I can understand this from starting new positions in my life but the entry level buffer for positions I been a part of have been around two to three weeks to get on board with the program or get out. In school we learn simply complexity with our one hundred to one thousand line applications. In companies, one would be working with programs with million lines of code and that would take some time to learn and get use to.

At that point in the talk, I asked generally basic questions about his job and the tech field, but I then turned it to a serious topic for a moment and asked him about his experience with diversity in the tech field. naturally I knew the answer. We need more multiracial eyes, thought, and code in tech but I wanted to see what he wold say about the matter. He got a bit more serious and uncomfortable  and talked about sure hoping for a difference because it is needed.

I then asked him about his future aspirations in the world of coding and he answered with the hopes of becoming a senior designer one day and basically told me that I should do the same once I am in a position. He does a lot of side learning outside of the job and basically does this first because one should never stop learning as a programmer, but he also constantly learns because he knows that the more he learns the faster he will reach the goal of being a senior developer. I really resonate with this thought process because this is how a ambitious coder should behave especially if they are a minority in their field.

So then I asked him for advice, he just said don’t freakout. He freaked out a ton coming into the program with no experience freaked out when it came to finding a job and he wish some one told him to not freakout he would get it, he would get a job and etc. so he just told me to not freakout.

I can’t wait to meet with again. I will be meeting him before he heads off to present at Ruby Con in April about Javascript with Ruby.

So…. I know that was not too technical so I will give you my method of the week!!!

This week it goes to… Partiton string method!

The Partition method splits a string into an array based on where you set the argument.

partition(sep) → [head, sep, tail]
partition(regexp) → [head, match, tail]

Searches sep or pattern (regexp) in the string and returns the part before it, the match, and the part after it. If it is not found, returns two empty strings and str.

"hello".partition("l")         #=> ["he", "l", "lo"]
"hello".partition("x")         #=> ["hello", "", ""]
"hello".partition(/.l/)        #=> ["h", "el", "lo"]