Development

What Ludum Dare has Done for Me

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I originally posted this on April 9, 2013 on my blog on Gamasutra. Cross-posting here, as I should have done before.

I first learned of Ludum Dare last August. I wasn’t in time to participate, but I was able to play a wide variety of interesting games. That got me fired up — I definitely wanted to participate in December’s 48-hour compo (hereafter LD48). I hadn’t programmed in years, really, but I was signed up for an Intro to Computer Science MOOC and was pretty sure I would be capable of pumping out something come December.

Participating in Ludum Dare #25

When December and its LD48 came around, I was not at all confident in my abilities. I had successfully brushed up on basic computer science concepts and learned some new things, but the MOOC had been taught in Python instead of the C/C++ I originally learned in. I could do some things with Python, like perform computations and output things to IDLE, but I had no clue how to do things like play sound and draw graphics. To make things worse, I live in Japan, which meant that the event would be starting at noon on Saturday for me. In order to be functional for work on Monday, I needed to get to bed around midnight on Sunday, leaving me with only 36 hours to make my game. In short, my limitations were many.

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Miscellany

An Example of International Copyright Helping Nobody — Not Customer, nor Developer, nor Publisher

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This is cross-posted from my blog on Gamasutra.

This is the story all about how
My mind got flipped, turned upside down.
I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there,
And I’ll tell you how Apple’s customer service punished me for wanting to make an in-app purchase.

The Setup

When I make calls to customer service centers, I don’t usually have a normal problem. That’s the benefit of being more computer-savvy than most; I already know to check the cables, try restarting, clear the cache, etc. This time my problem was simple. I was pretty sure I understood the cause of the problem. When I made this call, I expected to be told there was no help for it and to be on my merry way, but Apple went a step further than that.

Here’s my unorthodox situation. I am a U.S. citizen living in Japan. I have a U.S. iTunes account, with which I’ve been merrily buying things for who knows how many years now from both the U.S. and from Japan. A little over a week ago, I got an iPhone from my Japanese phone carrier. I got it all set up and had no problems using my U.S. iTunes account with the Japanese iPhone.

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Games

The Soul of BitSummit

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This was originally posted on March 9, 2013 on my blog on Gamasutra. I really should have cross-posted it here in the first place. BitSummit is awesome and I am proud to have helped out with it. I fully intend to help again next year.

So, BitSummit happened on Saturday. It was a one-day event organized by James Mielke and Q-Games with the goal of helping Japanese independent game developers expand their reach. Epic Games, Unity, and Valve were in attendance to promote their tools and western media representatives from outlets including Wired, IGN, and GameSpot came to see what the game developers already had to offer.

The presentations were mostly informational, but James Mielke had the opening speech, in which he talked about his reasons for organizing the event. With the world of independent game development expanding, he feels that it’s a shame that talented Japanese independent developers see less recognition for their efforts. Japanese developers have a different pool of cultural expectations and experiences from which to draw, he pointed out, and the games they make reflect that. Mielke believes independent game developers in Japan have a lot to offer the industry, and that’s why he put BitSummit together.

BitSummit T-shirt back
The BitSummit T-shirt back was deliberately designed to include not just video game icons, but references to other parts of Japanese culture.

As a volunteer staff member I spent most of my time at the reception desk, though I did get to listen to most of the presentations via the speaker system and was given some free time to check out the games being presented during the demonstration period. I didn’t get to see all the games — no one did, I think — but I saw some great stuff on the floor. One man just walked around carrying an iPad with a playable demo of an artistic, relaxing game in which the player moves through a pop-up book whose aesthetics are based on traditional Japanese paintings. Another game was a 2D platformer with unremarkable graphics, but whose gameplay was extremely fun because the developer had completely rethought movement. Then there was the first person shooter game in which you played a fish, spitting water at other sea creatures and able to move in any direction through a 3D environment. There was a lot of variety on display.

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Reviews

Beauty and the Beast (TV, 2012)

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Two nights ago, right before bed, I got caught up on watching Once Upon a Time and found myself surprised by one of the, “if you like this show, maybe you’ll like one of these” recommendations.

Beauty and the Beast 2012 - Title

Beauty and the Beast? The font didn’t make it look like the 1980s show, but… a quick Wikipedia disambiguation search confirmed my suspicion that someone had rebooted the classic TV series. (It wasn’t until later that I realized I probably could have just clicked through the recommendation to find this out, but hey. I’m a nerd. Google FTW.)

I went to sleep, but not before posting this.

Beauty and the Beast Tweet

When I got up in the morning, one of the first things I did was start watching the show. That ended up being just about all I did with my day. Because for all the ways this reboot differs from the original, it still retains the core premise and feel of the original love story.

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Japan

My Students are Awesome

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I have awesome students.

I don’t know the third person in this conversation — I assume it’s one of my student’s new friends at his high school. Still, I’m pretty damn proud of him right now. His English really is clunky at best, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t try.

I can’t take all the credit for this; my JET predecessor was better at encouraging the students to try than I am, I think. But still. <3 This made me very, very happy.

awsome student on Facebook
Miscellany

Trailers that Get the Wrong Reaction

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I saw Iron Man 3 at the theater last weekend. It was a good movie, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about an ad before the movie which starred this fine gentleman:

Bruce Willis in GI Joe 2

One of the trailers was for the upcoming G.I. Joe movie. Once the trailer had ended, there was a commercial for G.I. Joe pens. I didn’t pay much attention to the details of this Amazing Pen Offer™, but it was very Japanese. So very Japanese that they used a clip of Bruce Willis saying “Nice,” in the movie, subtitled in a bubbly pink font with a heart at the end.

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Development

Trifecta: Poke for OSX, Itch.io, and the Ender’s Game Trailer

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Poke & itch.io

Six years later edit (April 20, 2019): You can no longer download Poke from itch.io. Sorry folks

Item one: there is now a Mac OSX build for Poke, the game I mentioned in my last post.

It can be downloaded from item two, which is my profile up at itch.io. Itch.io is a web site made by another Ludum Dare person. It’s designed to just be a place where indie game developers can host their game files. The site supports pay what you want models, with the minimum price being set by the developer and $0.00 being a viable minimum price. It’s a neat site.

Ender’s Game Trailer

Then there is item three, the first trailer for the Ender’s Game movie adaptation.

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