George Clingerman

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

I’m sorry RPGs, it’s not you, it’s me: The birth of my game idea

WP_000238 (2) One of the things I’ve had to give up in order to have some development time at night is gaming. It’s something I refused to admit for years but I’ve just had to face the facts. I’m no longer a gamer. I just don’t have hours and hours of free time to pour into gaming and when I do have hours and hours of free time I want to pour them into game development.

That doesn’t mean I don’t game at all! I play games pretty much every day. It just means I’ve moved more into the casual game realm. It’s all I have time for when juggling priorities in my life. That means that games like Gears of War 2 sit shrink wrapped on my shelf and although I popped Dragon Age into my Xbox 360 one time, I barely made it through the opening sequence and haven’t had time to sit down and play again.

Instead I’m playing short games like Jamestown, Atom Zombie Smasher, Fortix or if I have time to jump in and play a few rounds maybe some Monday Night Combat or Team Fortress 2. These are games I can instantly get into and play for just a short period of time and then walk away.

Breath of Death VII saved my life:

Back in the day (way, way back in the day) I used to be a pretty big RPG fan. Not big by a lot of RPG gamers' standards (most of the RPGs RPG fans about I’ve never heard of) but I used to LOVE to play them on the NES, SNES and Genesis and considered that my genre. Final Fantasy, Shining in the Darkness, Bard’s Tale, Faxanadu, Shadowrun, Ultima, Dragon Warrior, Chrono Trigger, Phantasy Star, Shining Force and well the list could go on but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head. I loved playing RPGs and they were my games of choice.

1week-1 After my first son was born (this was just about 12 years ago), I tried to continue playing RPGs and purchased games like Baldur’s Gate I & II, Neverwinter Nights, Fable, then a few of the Final Fantasy’s then Kingdom Hearts. I kept buying these games and then only playing for about fifteen minutes and never getting back to them.

I still loved RPGs but they just no longer fit into my life (I still haven’t accepted that since I still purchased Dragon Age II for some reason and convinced myself I’d find the time). Adding three more sons to the mix (that’s 4 total) didn’t help much to finding more RPG time (except for Breath of Death VII and other XBLIG RPG titles, thanks guys!)

All work and no RPG:

A few months ago as I was sitting thinking about the lack of RPGs in my life and talking to my wife about why I wish RPGs were different and easier for a dad like me to get into. She seemed like she was listening, so I started listing all the things that made them impossible for me to play.

Here’s a short list I came up with.

  1. They take 15 billion hours to complete
  2. I have a few minutes at a time I can grab to play them if I want to have time to code.
  3. At that rate it would take me 9 trillion years to beat just one RPG.
  4. There’s such long spans of times between when I can play them I forget what I was even doing so I have to spend most of the playtime I have just figuring that out and then my play time is over. Repeat.
  5. I’ll never finish one and since it takes so long to get to the fun part in an RPG, I’m never having fun.
  6. RPGs aren’t fun if you don’t have hours to play them at a time.

As you can see based on my science and math, RPGs aren’t fun for me any more.

From there my brain started toying around with ideas of RPGs that would work for me. They would have to be a short RPG, you know one you could beat in a single play session. A dad sized play session. I started thinking, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a fifteen minute RPG?

That got me laughing and I took that as a good sign that it sounded fun and so I thought about it a little more. I immediately discarded the idea of doing a real RPG. I’m sure a short RPG like that could be done but it wasn’t the vibe that I had in my head. No this was going to be something that just had the core essence of an RPG. In reality what I’d be making would be more of an arcade style game. One with high scores and lots of crazy action on the screen. And that’s when it hit me. It would be a speed run RPG.

That’s the basics of the game I’m working on.

 

Hero02 The Elevator Pitch:

It’s a 2D top down RPG themed arcade game focused on speed. It sounds like an RPG, smells like an RPG but it’s merely emulating an RPG. The game is focused on fun and mayhem in RPG form with players leveling up in seconds instead of hours and rushing to finish quests as quickly as possible because they’ve only got fifteen minutes before EVIL overtakes the world. If the player takes longer than fifteen minutes, it’s game over man.

One to four player co-operative play to really see just how fast players can level up and beat the game. Gamers will compete on leaderboards for bragging rights for fastest 1, 2, 3, and 4 player speed runs, lowest leveled characters to beat the game, highest leveled characters to beat the game and so on.

Times will be tracked for everything from how long a player sat distributing stats, equipping items, talking to NPCs to running around the level. These stats will be shown at the end of each quest/level so the players can work on improving their speed run for that part of the game next time around.

It’s the perfect RPG for those of us who only have fifteen minutes of game time!

WorkInProgress Where I’m at:

I’m still at the prototyping stage attempting to but all the basic framework pieces in place that will at minimum give me one level to rush through. I’ve been working on this prototype for about a month now though so I’m going to have to step it up a bit or I’m not going to get finished in time (remember I’ve only got 85 days left!)

Lots of the game code is in place (although pretty sloppy) but I still can’t play through that first quest/level just yet. That’s my goal to finish up by the end of next Sunday (3/25/2012).

You can all hold me to that and cheer me on or heckle me throughout the week. Either way that should help me stay a bit more motivated and focused. In my head this feels like it’s going to be a fun game so I’m looking forward to seeing how it actually plays!

Posted On Sunday, March 18, 2012 9:42 PM | Comments (21) |

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dream Build Play: Do a little dance because it’s dancing time!

onemoredance Microsoft is running another Dream Build Play contest and once again I’m entering. (You can enter too by registering here –> https://www.dreambuildplay.com/Main/Default.aspx)

I’ve entered every year since the inaugural launch in 2007. Every year I had a fantastic game idea. Every year I worked really hard on it. Every year I never finished and never submitted. So why am I doing this yet again? Because I want to be part of something. I miss the old XNA community of yore and with lack of announcements regarding XNA at this years GDC I’m not sure how many more dances with an XNA centered Dream Build Play we’ve got left together.

That isn’t some prophetic statement filled with hidden messages of doom. I’m not saying I’ve got some kind of inside knowledge you don’t. At the MVP summit we heard the same talks they gave at GDC, so everything I know is public knowledge at this point. It’s just me watching and observing and thinking to myself that if XNA is really fading away then I want to make sure I enjoy these last moments.

So I’m entering Dream Build Play one more time and I’d really like you to as well.

I want to get pull together what’s left of that once active and vibrant XNA community (and maybe a bit of the old gang that’s disappeared) and get everyone blogging, tweeting and even posting on the forums once again about their Dream Build Play projects. I want to see what everyone is working on and watch videos and see screenshots of some really cool game ideas underway.

Doesn’t matter if we don’t finish. Doesn’t matter if our games never see the light of day. I just want to be part of that whole XNA, indie game development community one more time for one more dance.

Here’s my twitter:

@clingermangw

And here’s a forum post on the App Hub forums where I’d love for you to share your game idea, your blog, your YouTube channel, your twitpic stream, your twitter. Wherever you plan to talk about your game and your game development from now until June 12th.

http://forums.create.msdn.com/forums/p/101546/602906.aspx#602906

Anyone want to dance this dance with me?

Posted On Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:52 PM | Comments (9) |

Saturday, February 4, 2012

This is why I shouldn’t blog before a cup of coffee….

 

Wake up in the morning feeling all C Sharpy
Grab my laptop by my bed, I'm going to code this pretty
Brush my teeth and my hair much later I'm sure
Cause when I'm coding an idea I ain't looking to score

I'm talking curly braces have to close, close 
Writing comments all in prose, prose.
Errors blowing up my codes, codes

Music popping, coding my favorite ideas
Pulling up, reading the tweets
Starting to get a little bit Lispy

No slop, make it top
Coding, blow that keyboard up
Today I'm going write
Till I see no sunlight
Fric, frack, errors back
But the coding just won’t stop no

Coad-oh oh oh
Coad-oh oh oh

Posted On Saturday, February 4, 2012 10:19 AM | Comments (4) |

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best XBLIGs of 2011

Bestof2011 It’s the end of the year and like everyone else I’m reading the “best of” lists being posted all around the interwebs. Here’s a collection I’ve gathered of all the “best of” lists for XBLIGs.

XNADevelopment – Best XBLIGs of 2011

If you have your own, let me know and I’ll get you added to my collection. There’s quite a few gems I missed that I’m seeing on those lists so I’m looking forward to doing some gaming as I ring in the New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

Posted On Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:38 PM | Comments (1) |

Sunday, May 22, 2011

XNA Notes 020

 

Been a busy week for me, wish it was full of XNA stuff and that is why I’m busy (and that the notes are late…again) but not the case. I’m just going to have to figure out a better way of integrating the XNA Notes into some of the stuff going on lately or maybe change my life situation so these things aren’t going on. I’m working on figuring it out both ways. But you don’t come here to read about my personal stuff, you come to see what the XNA community has been up to!

So without further ado, here’s what I saw happening this week in the XNA community!

 

Time Critical XNA News:

  • June 14th is fast approaching and is the drop dead date for your Dream Build Play submissions! Let my voice of experience guide you, DO NOT WAY TO JUNE 14th TO SUBMIT YOUR GAME! Seriously, every year we have people toeing right up to that date and you have a very, very good chance of missing the deadline because something always inevitably happens when 1,000s of submissions are sent to the server at the same time. Plan to submit days early to make sure your game gets processed and accept BEFORE June 14th.

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG):

 

XNA Development:

Windows Phone 7:

Posted On Sunday, May 22, 2011 11:31 AM | Comments (11) |

Friday, May 13, 2011

XNA Notes 019

 

This has been a fantastic week of XNA activity and news. Standing ovation the the XNA Team for the interaction they’ve been having with the community as well as the new features they’ve been rolling out for Xbox LIVE Indie Game developers. Simply outstanding and I can’t wait to see what might be coming next.

It’s also been a fun week to watch people’s Dream Build Play projects inch ever closer to completion. With the submission deadline coming up in June this is the crunch time for many developers. Keep your eye on your favorite game developers twitter accounts with the late nights that are sure to come, I’m sure there will be some amazing things that will be tweeted.

Now on to what I caught happening in the XNA Community…

 

Time Critical XNA News:

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG):

XNA Development:

Windows Phone 7:

Posted On Friday, May 13, 2011 9:56 AM | Comments (12) |

Friday, May 6, 2011

XNA Notes 018

 

It’s not often I let my personal life creep into affecting the things I’m involved in and doing. I usually let my hobbies kind of get me through the tough parts. And while I’ve been having fun distracting myself with playing games and coding this week, I’ll admit my eye wasn’t on the community like it normally is. I apologize for the late posting of the notes and for how light and sparse they are. I’m sure there was more going on in the XNA community (and if you were missed in this weeks notes, shoot me an email and I’ll either add you or get you into next weeks!).

Even still, with just a glance here and there, I was still impressed with the size of the list of items that was collected. The XNA Community is fully of busy bees and here’s what I noticed.

Time Critical XNA News:

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG):

XNA Development:

Game Development:

Posted On Friday, May 6, 2011 11:08 PM | Comments (4) |

Friday, April 29, 2011

XNA Notes 017

 

This week has been an interesting one. Lots of ups and downs in the XNA Community and lots of things that we’re not sure yet if it’s an up or down. One of the biggest changes that happened was that the Top Downloads list on Xbox.com and on the Xbox dashboard is now calculated differently for Xbox LIVE Indie Games. It’s still not clear what impact this is going to have (although I know it feels pretty clear to some of you in the community!) but this lead to some interesting things.

One, we got to see Xbox LIVE Indie Games mixed into the master best selling list with Xbox LIVE Arcade and retail titles. The screenshots of that will be in my mind (and on my hard drive) forever. That was pretty awesome to see and I’m looking forward to a day where that is the reality of things.

Two (and I think this point got lost in the panic of whether this was a good thing or not), the XNA Team DID SOMETHING. Not only did they do something, but they communicated with the community about it afterwards and they’re still talking to us. That is unbelievably fantastic and I’m standing up and giving them a slow clap right now. Nicely done, let’s see some more of that and I guarantee you this community will respond by making more and more awesome content and games for all your platforms.

Now on to what’s been happening in the XNA community…

Time Critical XNA News:

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG)

XNA Development:

Windows Phone 7:

Posted On Friday, April 29, 2011 9:53 AM | Comments (2) |

Friday, April 22, 2011

XNA Notes 016

 

This has been kind of a crappy week for me. Kids are all puking like crazy so I’m up most nights taking care of them. Fun times being a day! (I have 4 kids in case you didn’t know!). And while my kids have been puking, the community has been busy puking too. Puking up a ton of awesomeness! Yeah…probably not the best analogy but I’m tired.

I did want to take the time to point out one thing that resonated loudly with me this week. You’ll see some interviews with Kris Steele by Steven Hurdle. In that interview, Steven brings up a good point. Are we using the wrong hash tags on twitter? Typically when we tweet about our games or Xbox LIVE Indie Games in general, we tend to use the #xna and #xblig hashtags with occasionally the #xbox hashtag thrown in for good measure. But what are the gamers using? Are we really just advertising the games to the people that already know about them? That’s something definitely worth thinking about. And if someone knows the answer to “what hashtags do Xbox 360 gamers from casual to hardcore use?” please let me and the rest of the Xbox LIVE Indie Game community know!

And now on to the what’s happening in the XNA community!

Time Critical XNA News:

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG):

XNA Development:

Windows Phone 7:

Posted On Friday, April 22, 2011 10:31 AM | Comments (7) |

Friday, April 15, 2011

XNA Notes 015

 

MIX 11 happened this past week and I’m still trying to find and catch up on all the announcements changes that came from that. It looks like we can now use XNA on the web via Silverlight (and am I reading that we can do 3d?). We can now use Silverlight in our XNA projects with Windows Phone 7 (yay for having an easy way to make UI’s in XNA now!). And I’m still searching around to see if there were any other big news. The Silverlight + XNA news is pretty big because that opens up a lot of new game development avenues that weren’t available to XNA developers before. Social networking in our game? Yeah, I’ll take some of that.

Despite all the excitement coming out of MIX 11 it really didn’t grab center stage in the community because there we so many other exciting things happening. Here’s what I noticed…

Time Critical XNA News:

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

 

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG):

XNA Development:

Windows Phone 7:

Posted On Friday, April 15, 2011 9:07 AM | Comments (3) |

Friday, April 8, 2011

XNA Notes 014

 

What a crazy week! Big game releases from the XNA Community, podcasts, reviews, interviews, new educational content being posted and all sorts of upcoming titles that I’m excited about. If there was ever a week that I missed stuff, this was the week. Seemed like every time I glanced at twitter or checked my RSS feeds there was some interesting and new XNA thing going on. No need for me to try and convince you, just like at the size of this weeks XNA Notes!

Time Critical XNA News:

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

  • I’m either missing what the XNA MVPs are doing (which is my guess)…or we’re not doing anything! So yeah, if you’re an XNA MVP make sure to let me know what you’re doing and where your blog/site is so this section has a bit more content.

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games:

XNA Development:

Posted On Friday, April 8, 2011 9:55 AM | Comments (16) |

Friday, April 1, 2011

XNA Notes 013

Today is April Fool's day...and apparently I fooled quite a few people with my post earlier today! Sorry if you were outraged, concerned (or maybe you were happy and elated?) but I am not losing my MVP status. I'm still an XNA MVP and hope to remain one for as long as XNA is around. I really love the technology and this community!

Something that was NOT an April fool's joke however, there are now two new XNA MVPs (well only two knew that I'm aware of, if there's more, please make yourself known!). Congratulations to Michael McLaughlin and John Defenbaugh for this recent award, you guys truly deserve the honor. Thanks for everything the both of you have done for the community this past year.

With all the announcements done, let's get on to what I noticed going on in the XNA community this past week.

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG):

XNA Development:



Posted On Friday, April 1, 2011 7:59 PM | Comments (4) |

XNA Notes 0013: So long and thanks for all the fish.

[What you see below was an April Fool's Joke! I am still an MVP and was already re-awarded for the year back in January!  I'm still laughing at how many people this fooled (although I did feel a little bad when I saw all the nice comments being made) It was kind of like faking your own death, I got to read a so many wonderful things about me and it was really quite touching just how many people reached out to me or got really upset or angry about this news. Thanks for the concern, but I am still an XNA MVP and plan to be for a very long time! Sorry for any confusion and Happy April Fool's Day!]

Really only one note I’m going to bring up today because it’s all that’s been on my mind this past week.

In the MVP world there’s an ebb and flow. New MVPs come and old MVPs go. Microsoft, in recognizing that the old batch of XNA MVPs had gotten a little stale (and probably too whiny and annoying) appears to have brought in a new crop and discontinued some of the old. It was a good 5 years. I had a lot of fun with the community and I’ll probably still be around.

Losing my XNA MVP status has made me take a step back and re-evaluate just why it is I’m so involved like I am. I never thought it was because of the tag that Microsoft gave me, but when I got the email that my XNA MVP status had been discontinued, I have to admit I feel like throwing in the towel. So here I am sitting with a ton of good memories but also looking at a LOT of time that I wasted doing things for others and not for myself. And honestly I’m not sure it was worth it.

I also want to say that I’m really sorry I let the XNA community down. I feel like I kind of failed you as an XNA MVP and maybe it’s a good thing that Microsoft has swapped me out.

Anyway, I don’t want to take away from those new XNA MVP awardees, this is me passing the torch and I want to say best of luck to you guys. Maybe you guys can find the right words to appeal to Microsoft to make the changes I never could. Most of all congratulations for your new award, you guys really deserve it!

Really looking forward to seeing what these new batch of guys do for the community. Good luck everyone and it’s time for me to figure out just what exactly I want to fill the hours of my free time with now. It’s been fun.

Posted On Friday, April 1, 2011 9:59 AM | Comments (26) |

Friday, March 25, 2011

XNA Notes 012

 

This week was a busy one for the XNA Community and one that had a series of ups and downs. You might have noticed by now (or maybe you haven’t and I shouldn’t be pointing this out..) that I tend to only point out the ups. That’s very much on purpose and something I thought long and hard about before I started doing XNA Notes.

It’s too easy to let the bad stuff spread like a virus and seem overwhelming (something to do with human nature and there’s probably a science and psychology behind it). When the bad spreads like that, we tend to forget all the good things that are going on. So since the lows are being covered so well by everyone else, I just record our highs. This is the best of what’s going on in the XNA community. It might be a biased view, but we’ve got to start learning to put our best face forward. I don’t do this to cover it up, but more because I don’t want the good being overshadowed or forgotten. So I’m not fair and un-biased here, this is definitely only one side of the coin and hopefully that works for everyone.

The new dashboard list by Kotaku is an example of a FANTASTIC and positive sign for Xbox LIVE Indie Games. Kotaku is a huge site and the list they chose looks like they put some serious thought into it. I’m really looking forward to the next update of that list and can’t wait to see what they pick next. Also going to be interesting to see what traffic that drives in for people on the list.

Also don’t forget, if you feel I’m missing something really cool going on in this community or if you have suggestions for how I should be doing this differently, let me know either via the comments, twitter or email! My email is posted at the bottom of every page on my tutorial site, so I’m pretty easy to contact!

So here it is, here’s the spotlight on what awesome things are happening in this community.

Time Critical XNA News:

XNA Team:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG):

XNA Development:

 

Posted On Friday, March 25, 2011 9:58 AM | Comments (5) |

Friday, March 18, 2011

XNA Notes 011

 

Even with a lot of the XNA community working on Dream Build Play entries ( I swear I’m going to finish mine this year!) people are still finding time to do side projects and be amazingly active in the XNA and XBLIG community. With my one eye on my code and one eye on the community, here’s what I noticed these over achievers doing this past week!

Time Critical XNA News:

XNA MVPs:

XNA Developers:

Xbox LIVE Indie Games (XBLIG):

XNA Development:

Posted On Friday, March 18, 2011 10:41 AM | Comments (1) |

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