18.12.15

Seamless textures painting in BLENDER is awesome!

I love seamless textures. I use them mostly for 3D texturing and painting or using them as tiled backgrounds. Basically it's an image that can be tiled repeatedly. There's a lot of free seamless textures out there, but most of the time you may want to create your own. This time I used Blender as I use it for creating 3d assets, and it's not as hard as I thought to setup. Here's a sequence of images to show you how to set up quick.

First, fire up Blender, and go to the UV/Image editor.



Click on NEW.



An option will pop up. Just hit OK for a default blank image to paint on.



Click on the "View" dropdown panel then choose "Paint."



Now press "T" and it will bring out the Tools panel on the left as shown.  Select the "Options" tab then check the box that says "Wrap."  Basically it will continue painting to the other side of the image once your brush moves off at the edge of the canvas. This works on all sides (top to bottom, left to right and vice versa).



Finally, press "N" to display the Properties panel on the right side as shown. Check the box that says "Repeat" and you will notice that it will tile the image you're currently painting. 



That's it!  It's a simple setup but you can now start painting. I'm practicing hand painting stuff myself and this makes things easier for me to create seamless textures.

4.12.15

Game Dev Tidbits: A Developer with Impetuous Passion

Probably one thing you'll ask yourself if you want to start with mobile game development is “What type of game should I make?”, "How do I start?" or "What are the things I need?"

Well, if it's your first game – always start small. If you're like me with no funding, like most indie game developers, don't immediately make another Clash of Clans. You're excited, that's understandable. So was I. A lot of ideas have been inside my head and just wanted to jump straight on it. But it's not as easy as it sounds. If you have no idea about game development go with a simple concept like Tetris or Pinball. Start small, and work your way up to more complex games. But I wouldn't personally do those ideas that already exist. Be creative and think of games that you think didn't exist yet. Or let's say pretty much easy game mechanics but add a creative way to make it unique. You have to make your own standards and as long as you also like what you are doing then it's good enough. A good existing system or new system of your own just to make things easy for you. 

Choose a style you want. Say you want a kid's educational game. Remember it's for children so you may want to make the layout of the interface intuitive and easy to understand. Kids mostly like the cutesy stuff, so you may also want to make your graphics look cute with vibrant colors.

For the game engine, my super mini-team is using Unity3D for the games we have up and running. It's the first game engine we ever tried and it's extremely powerful and you can make both 2D and 3D games. It's free and you can publish to Android and iOS (how cool is that). If you don't know programming, there's a plugin called Playmaker for Unity that uses “visual state machines” instead so you won't have to write a single line of code. You have to purchase it though. Recently I also tried Construct 2, an HTML5 game engine designed for 2D games. The event system and pre-made behaviors is really powerful and perfect for beginners as you also don't need programming knowledge. These are the engines we use and are comfortable with.

Most importantly, finish your first game no matter how simple it is! That's how motivation starts for you. Building and compiling your game is also part of the experience.  You will learn later down the road that you will forget the things you did not practice, so don't leave the development hanging.

25.11.15

Sketching: A part of game dev planning

Had a little bit of free time last weekend so I got to spend an hour or so deleting old and unwanted files from the hard drive. I noticed a folder named “Scanned Sketches” while I was skimming through the files and checked it out. As it turned out, it was obviously sketch works (duh). Most of them are for my clients and personal projects and a few are just for practice.


So why do I spend a lot of time sketching anyway? Since I've started to learn how to draw and until now that I emerged myself into game development I love sketching. I've been with other designers and illustrators in the past and I always find it extremely interesting everytime I see them doing a lot of scribbles before diving into the final form. I think sketching is an art of its own.









When I said sketching you probably thought on paper. You are right. Before I got my own computer and wacom tablet of course I use the traditional pen and paper combo. But even so, most of the time I feel more 'creative' when holding a pencil than a tablet or mouse. Most of you artists will get it. Not to mention it still is a hell lot faster to sketch multiple ideas on paper than in the computer. So how does sketching help you?


You may call sketching some sort of visual planning or brainstorming. Basically, concepts and more concepts, until you reach the final product. Concept development becomes faster through sketching. You can generate a bunch of ideas within a short period of time and best part is, you can clearly evaluate and see which of those ideas you tossed in is worth to progress and what to eliminate. So basically, it's a timesaver!

A poorly scanned masterpiece. Yay!



A line or a shape starts from a dot. Some of the best ideas start from a sketch. Let's say you have clients and they want your opinion of a character suitable to the environment that they want. Simple. Sketch three to five character designs so you can give them your vision of what you think may be best. You can use this to communicate with other people about your design ideas.


Sketching gives you freedom to illustrate what's on your mind. It's for everybody. It is a simple weapon but brings plenty of things to the table. And hey, it's fun!

16.11.15

Past works: Freelancing start

So some time ago I worked for clients who's into the mobile game business. Most of them are reskins stuff right by the time flappy bird became a hit. I'm not really a fan of it but it's time for me to learn about the world of freelancing. I remember it was also around the time when game developers just change the theme and appearance of popular games but the gameplay remains the same started to become a trend. My clients wanted to improve the graphics or maybe, you know, just going for a fresh look overall. They have programmers working with me and I'm stuck with the drawing board. These were some illustrations I did in a short span of time. I believe some of these games were pulled out by my previous client lately from Google Play and iTunes. Maybe they aren't working well enough in terms of downloads or revenue? Just my guess, but most likely. 

Here's one of 'em. Your usual action platformer with a viking-ish character as the main player set in a Norse mythology theme. You can collect coins to buy items and unlock other characters as you go along. The characters, environment, and user interface elements were all created using Adobe Illustrator with a little bit of editing in photoshop. I do my sketches in AI as well.

Main menu screen

Grab all the coins!
Ever heard of the popular infinite jumping game Doodle Jump? Had the chance to create graphics for that same gameplay as well. This however with robots as your hero/heroine trying to endlessly jump as high as you can on platforms while avoiding obstacles and getting power ups without falling.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/robo-jump-2048-ad-mega-aeon/id830055718?mt=8
Where are those power-ups when you need one!

Well this one is a reskin from the viking platformer example above. Nothing much, just instead of Norse myth, it's zombie-themed this time. Seriously, you're not a true-blue graphic designer without a zombie investment in your arsenal right? Zombie apocalypse games are so prevalent nowadays they keep popping out of nowhere so why not join the bandwagon at least once. The characters wound up looking a bit too funny but they had a good feel. 




Presentation

That's all for now! I just wanna put it out there. Personally there are a lot of things to improve on. These were all made within a short time when I was doing freelancer jobs. Hope these would help you with some ideas. More updates soon!

9.11.15

A look back at unfinished projects


Long ago when I first had the determination to seek game development, we gathered together with my friends one time to think of an art concept for our supposedly “first game” to make for android and maybe iOS further on. It's our first step to game development. Apparently it did not go the way we wanted to. For whatever reason, that first project did not come to life. It's like it suddenly was left in the dust. I guess it's normal for projects especially if you're starting out. Everyone has a story of unfinished projects to tell.

 

One of our first concepts is about a side-scrolling shooter game that for us sounds totally awesome. Steampunk-themed, arcade style shooter with a Zeppelin as the main ship or player. Kind of like the style of Progear and Gradius. You can unlock other ships as you progress in the game and each have their own unique abilities while you course through many levels and battle challenging bosses. You can see some of the sketches above.

Great. That was the plan. I think it's worth checking out why it did not continue. Coming from our own experiences, I could tackle a few points on which I think we hit a bump and later realized the project just passed us. 

We didn't have enough feedback. Since it's our first idea, we just discussed it among ourselves. We never got to let other people give us opinions and suggestions or criticisms. You can have your friends check it out, but keep in mind that most of the time they give you positive feedback. A person you may not know could be the one giving you honest critic on what the game is lacking. 




Lots of cool ideas always come. But among those, choose what you and your team can do best at the moment. Making an RPG as your first project could be amazing but do you have the time and resources? If you can do with infinite running or jumping games or puzzles quickly go with it. Learn to walk before you run as they say. 

Prototype! This is where your ideas start to become visible. Prototypes don't often go perfect at first build, that's why it's called a prototype – a sample. This could be your backbone, as you can figure out instantly what seems falling short or excellent. Keep building prototypes and you can adjust from there. Use placeholders for your assets and avoid over analyzing so you won't end up inserting random ideas as you go along and eventually change the entire look and gameplay you had in mind from the start.


Choose a game engine you are comfortable with, not because it's popular or popular games are made with it. It's not bad to try different engines and compare, but stick to what's best you are familiar with for now. We've tried a number of free game engines and it just turned out we got tired of it and ended up failing the project.

Lastly, don't throw those old projects. You can always come back on it and finish it when the time comes!

Naturally I feel down for not getting anything done. But these unfinished projects help me learn a few things. It helped me become capable of finishing other projects. Well, it's all part of a learning experience.

2.11.15

FIVE TIPS: How not to forget your precious ideas!

This SPECIAL TIPS is brought to us by: GNOMICSTRIP, let's be naked about it!

1. Dear friends, be mindful that a notepad and a pen/pencil or any piece of paper are handy tools. Get one of those pocket sized notepads and bring it with you all the time.

2. Put your gadgets into good use, it's always best to have access on your notes wherever you are. Find apps and safe storage online that you can access through different devices.

3. Leave yourself a message like, "Hey dummy, in case you forget this part here is your million dollar idea." Don't worry nobody will think you are crazy as you will be keeping your notes for the time being.

4. In some cases when you don't have a clear view of your idea, just "take note of it" and look at it from different perspectives. We do get trapped by our own thinking. If still unsure you can review it at a later time or ask people for an alternative point of view.

5. Use colored pens or any marker to outline your BEST ideas! Remember highlighting those pointers you have in high school while copying notes? Also, do not be afraid to rub out what you think is not needed. Not all of our ideas will be converted to art. REMEMBERRRR...always trust your gut feeling.

Since we so love our readers, here is an EXTRA TIP --- READ YOUR NOTES DAILY! It will serve as good practice before putting those ideas to work. Let's share the good news!

That's it goodluck! For more awesome GNOMICSTRIP and game dev updates! Follow us @geekygnomegames.
facebook.com/geekygnomegames

31.10.15

Game Development Roadblocks: When you feel uninspired

As a game development artist or just an artist in general, there comes a time we feel down in the dumps. Many times have you been calling it a day before you even started. Not in the mood to do creative stuff today. You start to think you lack inspiration or just too lazy. So how do you even begin? What to do to get your daily dose of creative juice.

I myself can't even count how often I've become painfully uninspired. It sucks. Basically it's like a game between you and your other lazy self. The productively artistic side of you should win the game. Not only that you need to draw stuff, there's a hell of programming you need to get a hold of. If I'm in this situation, guess what's the first thing I have in mind? These are the things I've experienced over again but it still work wonders.

COFFEE. You say, whattt?? Really, no joke. Coffee helps me a lot when in the “thinking state.” I don't know the science behind it, but I suddenly get a lot of ideas coming in from all angles as I drink. It's my go-to adrenaline. It boosts my critical thinking. Some people would probably think it's only a placebo effect, but hey, it works for me. Not to mention that I love the taste and aroma too.

Let's say I have a lot of ideas at the moment. The next thing I do is LIST THEM DOWN OR SKETCH THEM. All of them. No matter how impossible or insane it may be, just list or doodle it. I'm kind of traditional so I always bring a small notebook/sketchpad and a pen or pencil with me. Don't waste those ideas and later just become castles in the air. Keep track of them. You may not need it at the moment but trust me, someday, you might. 


Don't you find it boring to be in the same room for years, staring at your monitor all the time or working alone? Try bringing your laptop in a park or maybe a coffee shop (coffee is awesome, right?). At some point, you will realize that simple change of ambiance will refresh you from the current spot you're in. Try going there with friends as well. Misery loves company. Kidding.



Seriously, another thing and will always be a distraction while working is YOUR PHONE. Turn them off once in a while or put it in a drawer where you can't easily reach it. You will notice you can focus without much interruptions.

Check and get ideas from other artists' works. You don't do this to be discouraged. Obviously there are a lot of artists out there that have been in the industry longer than you were. Try not only to admire what they create. Look deeper. What's the artist thinking about why he made this and that? What's the idea behind the art and concept? The first time I visited cgplus.com and drawcrowd.com I was overwhelmed. Like I'm not a part of this league. The more I check artists though, the more I get inspiration from them. You will be surprised that later on you start to use your imagination more and turn it into an original piece. And of course, practice and more practice!


Get enough sleep. Well, as a freelancer, I often work more hours than I should be sleeping in a day, particularly when that freaking deadline is coming in close. I remember working straight for almost a day and my work has suffered quality. Try to get those in-between-naps even just for 30 minutes or so they help a lot. Don't push too much we do get mentally exhausted.

Aaannnddd...because I want to create games, I play other games! There's nothing more fun than playing games you like and get inspiration from them. I remember playing Tiny Toon – Bab's Big Break on Nintendo's Game Boy when I was little and it still amazes me everytime I get to see that again. Classic games are gold. Considering the limited technology and software they had a while back, they managed to make games that are fun and with great storylines and perfect soundtracks. I want something like that for GeekyGnomeGames in the future! Soon baby, soon. :D

27.10.15

The Bunker: GeekyGnomeStudios

  
A couple maya bird once built a nest in a Calamondin tree. It was after a month or so that the nest was fully completed. A few weeks after they had laid their eggs and stayed there for a month. "How peaceful their life was," I said to myself. Everyday, I wake up and walk around the house and I can see the nest in the center of the thorny tree which is also a few steps from our front door. It was easy to reach. However, I didn't do that. I became more aware and respectful of the things around me especially living things. I don't know why. Like you and me they have their own troubles in life. As much as possible I don't want to be a cause of their demise. 


As a freelancer for ages now, I wanted to build my own nest. More likely a studio is what I had in mind. However, it is too overused and I wanted to have a different kind of feel of my own place. I will call it - the Bunker. The reason behind is simple. A bunker is something that protects, like a shelter. I envision it as a safe place where I keep my trusted companions and intellectual exchange of opinions and ideas will most likely happen. Where brewed coffee and tea are served. Where we experiment stuff with our devices, software, and tools. Where codes hit the canvas as we speak and every line has a story to tell. I am at the edge of my seat. I can't wait to share with the world the product that is yet to be made. A few years or less my plan will run on the command line. Need to go the extra mile!


Weeks gone by but the nest was quiet. I was curious why I haven't seen the couple hanging around and inside that bundle of dead leaves and branches. I was a bit concerned the passing children may have noticed and probably played around with the eggs. Beauty gone in a brink. It's a shame I can't do anything. 


However this will not be the case with our Bunker. Tubes of steel and concrete above and below ground with strength of a million times stronger than branches and leaves. Only this time, no eggs will be laid, but the product of our own imagination. I considered trusted friends to join me, as I always tell them this will be done and this will become awesome. I have so much in store for GeekyGnomeGames which will be GeekyGnomeStudios in the future. As I draft the plan, I have gathered enough ideas to ramp this up several years from now. To simply put it GeekyGnomeStudios will be a small indie-pendent (see what I did there?) app and game development company. The certain drive and motivation of my team is to "create" and not to compete. We don't care about other peoples app or game, we only wish them the same success! We want to put into action the things that inspires us and work the ideas we have set to do several years ago. We need x and y to dance around the window of any resolution of any screen. I do foresee that GeekyGnomeStudios will not only offer apps and games. We want to show off as well because I am definitely certain we can offer more than what big companies can. 
       

It will come to a point that you will have to be aggressive to live your dreams. I have always been confident in what I believe and never lived a day without thinking of what things I can do and offer to the world. That is because I have already been in hardest times and I know how disappointing it gets but somehow, the greater my passion becomes. This is why I am creating the "bunker" not only to shield myself, but also to put things into perspective. Slow and steady, but winning the race.
          

19.10.15

Game Development: 5 important things to remember.

Maybe I should start with saying that getting into mobile game development is like baking a cake. You will either have a tasty treat or a devastating result, especially if you're a noob. Rather than to thoroughly define what is game development, I would simply say it's a creative way to create something that could entertain everyone with design and programming skills; or in my case - a way to challenge an artist's personal goal by creating a successful game. I can say there are those passionate ones who really create games and their codes are etched in their bones. Most of us, like myself do see the future of getting good money in your own creations, but that is honestly not my priority. But to have those perks in the long run is satisfying. Creating the best game and at the same time earning well is such a gratifying moment for a developer. Well I haven't been in that level yet, but sure enough soon is just around the corner. In that same context you would try to avoid creating shitty games, such as copied from another gameplay which I also did on purpose to experiment and I got my answer as well - a shitty result. Maybe those tricks had worked before but never again. The game industry is working like a woman's brain, trends change quickly before you know it.


I began creating mobile games with little knowledge of the industry. As a graphic artist I focus on the design aspects alone. However I do have a small programming background which I consider totally useless at this point. I know basic C++ and the game engine I am using uses C# or Java Script. Nonetheless, if you are devoted and confident you can create your own game and make it as your goal, you can do it! You just need to think out of the box. Like hiring people to work for you. In my case though, I have a bit of talent in designing, animating and conceptualizing a game. That deep experience is directly proportional to numbers in my bank account when I started GeekyGnomeGames. However since I really wanted to make my own game I managed to gather tools that I am familiar with. You know what I mean - buying all those software and to register an account with iTunes and GooglePlay plus buying license for the game engine. I will have to say despite all of that, don't let these things hinder you from moving towards your goal.


Let's say you got your game face on and you found the right people, tools, and skill sets you need and motivated enough to create something. By the way, you can always work alone - which I think is perfect as a start.


In my experience I will leave you these 5 important things to remember.


1. Be creative. Believe in your own idea. Have time to play as much as possible all games or even just popular ones and wonder why and how they are made. Understand the basics of the gameplay and start from there. The idea is to make something that will satisfy you yourself, as the creator of the game. If you are not enjoying the game you are trying to create don't expect others to enjoy as well. If you need to learn more, research on independent (indie) game developers. I am sure you will get more inspiration.


2. Think on paper. Make sure you write everything you have in mind. Whatever it is, may it be simple or far-fetched. The crazier it is, the better. This will allow you to remember everything, so make sure to write every detail. If you are clear on what you want for your game, you will definitely have it as you execute everything. You may think it's a bit of old school writing on paper but trust me, it helps.


3. Give way to experimentation. A flexible approach to everything will make it worthwhile for you. Work on the most brilliant and stupidest idea. Don't mind what other people say. They may hate it or like it but whatever. If you pull it off, they will still buy it!


(Here is one idea I might regret conceptualizing in terms of design. The code is a bit easy since shooter/puzzle games are quite common thus you can find a lot of tutorials. Embarrassed as I am now, it doesn't really matter. It's actually funny and even the title is quite disgusting. Anyway, you get experience points, if you know what I mean.) Warning: Avoid making games like this.


Don't download, just watch the Video here.

https://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/clash-of-ultimate-fighters/id931277070?mt=8



4. Work on technical stuff. I am not good at this but I am trying. You will find it very useful. Data gathering and compilation of the stats will be the blueprint of your business as a game developer.


5. Always take the time to have a break from your own games and play other games as well. Be open to possibilities of studying the complexities of another person's work. Try to remove competition in your mind once in a while. As long as you instill a sense of competition, you will never fully understand what creativity means.


Hope this blog helps you!

15.10.15

Little World Escape

GeekyGnomeGames as I call it, was created 2014. I was inspired to make my own games and I did. Not only that, I was born in an era of gaming. NES, Atari, arcade games and awesome stuff that is much different from what we have now. That urged me to “create.” Aside from getting through some earnings in a game, it was not my priority. I think at this stage I only want to experience creating games alongside with people I trust and share the same endeavor.


We made Little World Escape as our first release for GeekyGnomeGames and I'm proud to say the graphic with this is really good with the planets completely done in Blender 3D and the characters in vector 2D. We also used Unity engine for this game. The game is available in IOS(AppStore) and Android(Google Play). It has a very simple game play. The main character is an astronaut that jumps onto different planets. As you jump from one planet to another you will be collecting stars which you can use to purchase different types of planets in the game. You can also unlock the other character in the game. Sometime in the game you will meet the crazy alien who will do nothing but annoy the crap out of you. However if you run towards it, it will run the opposite way, giving you a little space to time your jump to the next planet. Sounds pretty simple but it’s really hard. The gameplay is pretty much a combination of ideas from some games out there, which honestly is not what I want for all GeekyGnomeGames creations in the future. It's hard to actually think of a “unique” gameplay considering there's a gazillion of mobile games coming out every minute or so. Others will always think, “Hey, it's a ripoff of this, a copy of that blah blah.” But later it's a huge reward if ever I can come up with something cool that even I can't believe I did it.




www.geekygnomegames.com



The first part of the plan is to create a game and research the back end area. I was very lucky to have friends who are game developers. You should also check out some of the games they created. It is found in this link: toothpiggystudio.com.


Rough things aside, I am working few ideas of a new game which is far from what I have started. This would totally rock everyone by surprise. It's very far from the short game we are having now and it will be available on steam as well. Everyone in the indie games world support is much appreciated! Cheers!