love & devour

Yo! A couple weeks ago, Game Jolt hosted a game jam called Indies VS Gamers. Maybe you heard about it? The theme was “arcade”. My friend Austin Breed and I decided to participate. We made a no-button platformer called Love & Devour. It looks like this:

love-devour-micah-jones-austin-breed-indies-vs-gamers-gamejolt

It was tons of fun to make, and we’re still working on it! We’re thinking of posting it on a couple different flash portals, and I’m sure there will be a page for it here sometime in the future. For now, you can play it on Game Jolt .

Posted: August 11th, 2015
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new character design and shading

Hey, y’all!

Well, that was a long break from blogging. But I’ve been working, honest. Boy, have I been working.

The biggest change since May is that I’ve been collaborating with an artist on a new visual style for the rappelling game. There will be much more on this in a later post. For now, suffice it to say that the game is going to be quite a bit cuter! And it might not be called “Rappunzel” anymore.

Here’s a glimpse of the new character design:

rappunzel-mobile-rappelling-game

That shading has been quite the source of frustration lately. Come to find out, it’s really difficult to create random shadows piece-by-piece. I would have used effects shaders, if they didn’t kill the frame rate so violently. There was also the option to create larger portions of terrain, instead of building tiny interlocking pieces. But I was fond (and maybe a little too proud) of the true randomness of the old system. So I’ve been trying to make it work this way. There will be all sorts of little contour details and small bits of vegetation when it’s all said and done.

Anywho, that’s the game lately. When we’ve gotten more of the visual style implemented, I’ll do a more thorough post on the artwork and collaboration.

Posted: July 14th, 2015
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implicit messages, metaphors, and fishs

Added a new element to the game: jumping fish! They jump up from the bottom of the screen, and they bounce whenever you tap them. Three taps, and they give you POINTS. Mmmhmm.

rappunzel-mobile-rappelling-game

I’ve been facing a bit of a dilemma lately. It relates to the nature of the player’s interactions. I’m a pretty firm believer in simplicity when it comes to game mechanics. I would much prefer a single idea that is developed thoroughly, rather than several ideas that are halfway implemented. However, if I were to reduce this rappelling game to a single element (jumping), that also effectively reduces the range of interactions to good collisions and bad collisions.

From a development standpoint, that’s not a bad place to be. Video game history is rich with games based around good collisions and bad collisions. Where it becomes problematic is when you’re choosing your metaphors. Because throughout most of game development history, good collisions are represented as collecting resources, and bad collisions are represented as physical harm. With those metaphors, the implicit message about that gaming universe (and, by extension, reality) is that everything around us is either trying to kill us, or it’s there for us to take and possess. And despite the cuteness of your sprites or the bounciness of your music, that message is extremely dark.

In reality, there is a huge range of possible interactions a person can have with the world around them. You can feed animals, grow plants, high-five your neighbor, whatever. It’s not always about survival or hoarding resources. Those are very visceral constructs, and maybe that accounts for their popularity in the medium. But sometimes I wonder if we desensitize the player by constantly throwing them into life-and-death struggles (the same way that film desensitizes viewers by constantly bombarding them with endless gunfights and collapsing buildings).

All that is to say, I think that these simple touch interactions (which aren’t part of the main jumping mechanic) enrich the metaphorical soil of the game. I also think they send an implicit message about the game’s fictional world: some beings want to hurt you, some beings are just there to flop around and wink at you. I like that message, but I worry that I’m weakening the game’s overall effectiveness by focusing on more than one mechanic.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been turning over in my head while I’ve been working on the interactive elements of the game. I have no idea if the fish is there to stay. But for now, I’m enjoying the silliness of trying to keep it in the air.

Posted: May 8th, 2015
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first rappunzel gif

Here’s a gif of Rappunzel in action:

rappunzel-mobile-rappelling-game-04

This is a bit overdue, but it took me a while to find the right capture software. This was made with ScreenToGif, which is pretty easy to use, and I like the end result. I’ll probably stick with it for now.

Posted: April 22nd, 2015
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triangles = mountains

rappunzel-mobile-rappelling-game

Worked on some placeholder backgrounds this week.

Right now, in my head, this game would have a single linear progression through a series of landscapes.

I’m not much for endless games with an ever-increasing difficulty. I prefer to have a defined scope with the sense of a larger journey. It’s definitely more satisfying to my imagination.

But things are still pretty early, so that could change.

Posted: April 19th, 2015
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multiplier

rappunzel-mobile-rappelling-game

Rappunzel has a new multiplier system! Before, each jump had it’s own multiplier count. So if you jumped over three things, it would give you a multiplier of x3 for that jump, and then reset for the next jump.

But now there’s a progress bar that fills up as you jump over things. Once the bar is full, the game adds to your multiplier (which carries over from one jump to the next), and you start filling it up again. However! The progress bar is also slowly draining whenever you’re not jumping over things.

This is meant to give the player’s descent a sense of urgency. Getting hurt also clears out the multiplier entirely, and you’re forced to start all over again.

Also, I should mention that the current character sprite is likely to change. I needed to know roughly how big the player’s hitbox should be, so I did some rough sketches of a more human-looking character. But I haven’t landed on any specific metaphors yet.

Posted: April 12th, 2015
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rappunzel

Howdy! It’s been a couple months since I finished Rebound, and I’m ready to announce my latest project.

For now, I’m calling it “Rappunzel”. It’s a mobile game in which you rappel down the side of an endless mountain. The terrain is randomly generated, and you collect points by jumping over obstacles and shooting things. It makes more sense in motion, but for now, here’s a capture of some sexy-exciting placeholder graphics:

rappunzel-mobile-rappelling-game-01

It’s been quite a lot of fun to work on this game! Although I spent about three years on Rebound, not many people played it while it was in development. I’ve been trying a more open-handed approach with Rappunzel, and mobile is perfect for that. Friends can load up a preview on their smartphones and try it out with minimal effort. This allows me an opportunity to actually watch how people play the game and take mental notes on potential improvements. After a couple months, I’ve probably seen more people play this game than I did for the entirety of Rebound’s development.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been working on. I’ll try to get a GIF or a video posted, so y’all can see it in action.

Posted: March 30th, 2015
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rando calrissian

I uploaded a new album on Bandcamp! It’s an assortment of music I’ve written over the years.

I’ve already shared some of these tracks in previous entries. But most of them have only been heard by a select few.

I’ll continue adding to this album as I write other random musical bits. You can listen to the album on my site, or on Bandcamp.

Posted: February 27th, 2015
Categories: Music
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