Fowl Intentions

It’s the Easter break and I have been distracted by eggs and JavaScript. I’m too busy on other projects to make any serious steps towards it but I would like to make another platform game similar to ‘Foxtrot!’ (check it on the App Store or Google Play). This time the game would benefit from lessons learned regarding touch controls on mobile devices (no virtual buttons, ever again. Ever) and I’d work harder on balancing the difficulty level. Platform games on mobile have come on leaps and bounds since Rayman and Super Mario Run have (almost) perfected the form. I don’t suppose the world needs another one, but it does need more games with chickens (and foxes) in them.

So, if I do find some time and resources to make this chicken-based platformer, what tools do I plan to use? ‘Foxtrot!’ was built by myself and Owen Bennett using Stencyl. ‘Pixelgrams’ was made by myself, Graham Spence and Ste Curran with Unity3D. So I could use Stencil or Unity. But I don’t really want to. Stencyl is a great game making tool that has a Scratch-like drag and snap interface. Unity3D is an incredibly powerful suite of tools and is always going to be a compelling choice. If I get more time to make games then I may well return to these technologies, but in the meantime I’m going down a different path.

One of the few itches I’ve wanted to scratch over the last few years is to learn some proper coding skills. Of course, I could achieve this with Stencyl (which is based on Haxe and OpenFL) and Unity (C# or JavaScript). But I’d like to try something that uses a more code based environment, rather than a visual IDE. Something that is built particularly for 2D and for mobile. Something based on open source technologies would be even better. There are a few tools available, but I’m going to go with either JavaScript, using the Phaser framework and Phonegap or Corona SDK. After brushing up on some of my long forgotten JavaScript knowledge and doing a Phaser tutorial  this weekend, I think I’m going to plump for that. It’s an incredibly full featured JavaScript framework written specifically for making games, primarily for mobile web browsers. If you want to convert your HTML5 game into a native app for iPhone or Android then you’ll need to follow a route that something like Phonegap offers. There’s a lively community of Phaser and HTML5 developers on HTML5 Game Devs.

So watch this space, but no breath holding. I’m still committed to Pixelgrams and another (secret, for now) personal project. I also have my day job to consider. So progress will be slow and most of my time at these early stages will be spent on planning.

I may even write a game design document 🙂

New Year

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If you’ve stumbled upon this post, let me wish you a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2017. It may seem that those things will be hard to achieve. I’ll be concentrating on doing what I can to stay in contact with my fellow human beings. Even the ones who I disagree with. Small acts of love and kindness, regular and often. That’s got to be the way ahead.

Have a good one!

27 Percent

It was late and I found myself having to update my desktop computer after a long summer’s sleep. The computer was only 27% through it’s important work. In this kind of situation it’s best not to stare at the progress indicator. Instead, grab a pencil and draw something.

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I was pleased with the Land Rover County, the bear driving it and the toucan. When I looked back at my computer it was still at 27%, so I thought I’d give inking the drawing ago. Now, I really hate inking over pencil marks. The pen nib slides around, the ink flows badly and I rarely leave it enough time to dry before erasing the pencil with a rubber. So I’m often left with a smeared drawing due to bad technique and impatience. A few years ago I treated myself to a small light box but I’ve never really used it. I’ve got into the habit of drawing in ink without pencilling. Anyway, I decided to trace this pencil doodle and so I dug out the light box. Happily it worked, and I traced the pencils onto an overlaid piece of paper wit my fountain pen.

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I was pretty pleased with it. I over did it on the hatching as usual but I just can’t help myself. I looked back up at my monitor and of course, it’s still at 27%. But that’s ok, I’m quite enjoying this stolen time and so I get my colouring pencils and get to work. When it comes to colouring drawings, pencils are my best friends. They don’t care if I insist on non-waterproof ink. They live in a nice little tin.

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And that is that, really. Time well spent. Of course, the computer is still at 27% after about an hour of drawing. I need to go to bed and I don’t want to leave it running all night. So I switch it off and on again.

*And of course it’s fine.*