Guess the Collectible #2

Hey Super Pixalo Fans!

Since there are over 100 collectibles that reference different movies through the past 50 years in Super Pixalo, I’ve decided to share my love of movies and these collectibles by doing a giveaway. Super Pixalo is a precision platformer that is available on the OUYAitch.io, and you can vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

 

What you have to do:

Guess the release yearfilm title, and what scene the collectible is from in the comments below.

 

What you get:

First person to guess right gets a download key for the 12 track extended Super Pixalo soundtrack and a key for Itch.io for Super Pixalo for desktop!

Preview the soundtrack here!

 

The Collectible!

Super_Pixalo_1970_1

 

Get guessing!

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Guess the Collectible #1

Hey Super Pixalo Fans!

 

Since there are over 100 collectibles that reference different movies through the past 50 years in Super Pixalo, I’ve decided to share my love of movies and these collectibles by doing a giveaway. Super Pixalo is a precision platformer that is available on the OUYA, itch.io, and you can vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

 

What you have to do:

Guess the release year, film title, and what scene the collectible is from in the comments below.

 

What you get:

First person to guess right gets a download key for the 12 track extended Super Pixalo soundtrack!

Preview the soundtrack here!

 

The Collectible!

 

Super_Pixalo_1960_1

 

Ready, set, start guessing!

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Post Release Blues: A Theory

A friend of mine and fellow OUYA developer recently posted a write-up on the “Post Release Blues.” I think he did a great job of describing one theory about what goes into and what results from the post release blues. I’ve been mulling over the post-release blues for some time now. The main reason is because I’ve been hit hard around the release of Super Pixalo and finishing up my last year of college.

You can make an argument that it’s a spiritual deficiency, not enough working out, you need to eat right, you need to get off the computer and a million other “bandaid” solutions. I, on the other hand, have a scientific explanation as to what I personally believe causes the “post release blues”. Now, I realize that this doesn’t explain it for everyone, and it isn’t really a solution at all: just a theory.

Basically the week before I released Super Pixalo on the OUYA, I was in a constant high and had huge amounts of adrenaline. TinyPixxels streamed the game a few days before launch, it was featured in the OUYA email blast, and the community was really excited about it. Along with all the community excitement, was the larger amount of personal sense of accomplishment for completing an entire video game myself. Totally amazing!

The week the game launched was another big bunch of highs as I started the week graduating college, and then right into the game coming out a few days early. The whole week of launch reviews are coming out, bugs are being addressed, community questions are being answered and sales are boomin’.

Obviously two weeks of constant happy high is gonna come to an end and for me that was 1 week after launch. Nothing changed for me externally; very few negative reviews, sales were good (for my expectations), and there was a lot of community excitement about what’s next for Super Pixalo.

What did change is suddenly there was no more constant flow of stimulation. There wasn’t anymore streams or sales or anything like that to sustain the high level of excitement after those two weeks. Suddenly I felt depressed, empty, and just purposeless. This bothered me for a week or so as I tried to make sense of this downward spiral of feelings that I suddenly had. It finally dawned on me why I might’ve been feeling this way: my body had gotten used to the high amount of “happy feelings” I was having so it just normalized to that level of “happy chemicals” in my brain. As soon as all the stimulation subsided, my body was still producing the “happy chemicals” as much as it felt it needed to as if I was still being externally “happified.” If that doesn’t make sense, let me try explaining it again.

During High: External Stimulus + Happy Chemicals = Happy Body

Body Normalizes: External stimulus means body doesn’t feel it needs to make as much Happy Chemicals

Post High: External stimulus dies down significantly but body is still only producing a lessened balance of Happy Chemicals.

For me, this means that after a few weeks I feel back to normal. A month later my wife gave birth to our handsome little son named Ender and now life is pretty focused on baby and working on other side projects.

I think the post release blues are mostly a chemical thing. It sure was for me. I’m very interested to hear from other developers about their “post release blues” experiences, so feel free to comment below!

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The Best First Video Game Development Book You Can Buy

In the Spring of 2013, I decided it was about time to see what else HTML5 Canvas could be used for besides interactive graphs and charts at work. Graphs and charts and data organization are a blast, don’t get me wrong, but I’m always looking for MORE ways to use the stuff I’ve learned.

Since Bropixel turned into such a cool learning experiment, and everyone kept calling it a “game”, I decided to actually learn how to make a real video game.

5191oFRwRiL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I started hunting around for a good HTML5 Video Game design and development book. I almost instantly found “Foundation Game Design with HTML5 and Javascript” by Rex Van Der Spuy on Amazon. I picked up a kindle version and started reading in ernest.

Up ’till this point, I’d never so much as cracked open a programming book specifically on  games before. Sure, I’d picked up the “Making Games for Dummies” style books at the library as a teenager, but I never usually got past the part where it said “In order to make a video game, you need a team of 25 people with the roles of…. [disinterest]“.

You see, I’m an independent tinkerer. I work best when I can work from start to finish on a project preferebly when I can be a part of the whole process. At least I feel more productive, driven, and excited when I work on these solo projects. Now, for work, that doesn’t cut it: Most programming jobs require you to spend your time in your field (CODE) and work in a team. I have no problem with that at all; I just get bored easily because I only get to work on a tiny part of the project. I love working in teams and find that I learn the most directly from other developers in team settings. That’s just the honest truth about how I work. So when a book tells me I need multiple people in order to even start a video game project, I know it’s not for me. I wish authors were less careless with their introductions to topics. Thankfully, Rex Van Der Spuy understood what I needed to get started with video games.

I started reading this book and loved the structure. The author took you right through the most basic form of video game (text based) right on to point and click, and then straight into animation. There was no custom library or framework needed! Everything was explained thoroughly with examples, and even gave references to famous games in the category of game you were making.

I’m not skilled at summarizing books in a convincing manor. So I’ll just argue the point on why you should start with HTML5 and Javascript.

Reason 1 – Ease: HTML5 and Javascript are so well documented, so easy to write, and so easy to learn about that I don’t know why more people don’t just give it a try. You don’t have to be a master coder, or even a beginner coder to use the book mentioned above to start coding the games. The basic elements of programming are concisely described in the book. Just grab it and start playing with the code.

Reason 2 – Flexibility: Your phone, desktop, tablet, and even console browsers run HTML5 and Javascript. So you can make a game and be playing it virtually anywhere given that you have it on a site (you can google search where to submit HTML5 games), a friends server, or even from a flash drive. Not only that but you’ll have some idea of how to make your own interactive websites with the skills you learn in HTML and Javascript as well! Double WHAMMY!

Reason 3 – Free: The BIGGEST reason to use HTML5 and Javascript is it’s free to develop, free to use, and free to write. No expensive IDE required or system setup. Just grab a text editor thats built into your computer and launch the game in your browser. Or carry it on a thumb drive and edit it there!

Those are three super awesome reasons to use this book to learn to make games. It’s the FIRST resource I EVER recommend to friends or people I meet who want to try making games. Worth every penny for the book, and you will be equipped with the skills to turn that purchase into a profitable investment in no time at all!

Well, there’s my plug for an awesome game development book! Get it, read it, and make some games!

If you need a place to host your HTML5 video game, let me know, I’ll help you set something up or point you in the right direction!

Thanks,

Phil

 

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Case Study: BroPixel

Introduction

In January or February of 2013 I got a bit board of just making websites at work and decided to use my time in the evenings to play round with some ideas I had floating around in my head.

On Pixels: I love pixels. I love the idea that complex shapes, shades, and gradients are all made up of tiny little squares. To go way to deep on you, I think it’s a great analogy to life; life is made up of tons of tiny little moments that build up your grand span of life. Therefore my first few projects really emphasized my love of pixels. Also I grew up playing with LEGOs all day long everyday. I still have about 75 lbs of LEGOs in huge rubbermaid boxes at my parents’ house.

 

Idea

My initial idea was to create essentially a LCD board you could click the squares and toggle on and off the square. This would be my first attempt at anything in the “pixel art” world. A big reason behind this project was also the fact that I’d been using jQuery for all interaction based javascript for the past 3 years. I’d completely forgotten how to create something in just naked javascript. I wanted to change that because I felt like jQuery had become a crutch, and also was becoming excessive for small simple web applications I was making. I was trying to break a habit and see if there really were any differences in performance or coding.

 

Goal

All my projects have a specific goal. The goal here was accomplishing simple, re-usable interaction with minimal JavaScript that can be used for creating things. 

 

Phase 0

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 1.32.27 PMThe first night I was able to get something pretty much exactly what I was thinking of in terms of looks. I even added some new color to see if I could achieve a neon look: I could! On the right is a example of what I came up with in about an hour or two. It’s really not a bad attempt. There are no images used in the code and it’s pretty simple really: each square is a div with a class that specifies the color. Now all I needed to do is generate the pixels with javascript. Easy peasy.

 

Grab the unaltered code for this here.

 

Phase 1

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 1.32.41 PMI had a look going for me, time to make some codey codey. To the right you’ll see the result of the next nights plunder into the dynamic generation of divs! It actually was pretty easy, just loop as much as I wanted to create the divs and add a class.

 

This was relatively simple to do thanks to the little method “appendChild()”.

 

Each function looked like this;

 for (var i = 0, n = 104; i < n; i++) {
  var divTag = document.createElement("div");
  divTag.className = "pixel orange";
  divTag.innerHTML = " ";
  document.body.appendChild(divTag);
}

Grab the unaltered code here.

 

Phase 2

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 1.59.47 PMI now had dynamic pixels, the css, and the colors done. Now I just needed the code for interactions. I decided to do it first with jQuery and than work back from there.

 

At this point I added clicking to already created divs. That way the code didn’t have to generate a page of divs. It was a small square of them but you could toggle through the colors pretty easily.

 

Grab the unaltered code here.

 

Phase 3

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 2.08.55 PMNow that I had the toggle code I could add the auto-generating divs. Now I had a big page that I could click on and it would create a new pixel.

 

I did notice some problems though. There was no clear identifier that the mouse was over a pixel. No border or highlight. So that had to be added in the future.

 

Now it’s time to really take out the jQuery code.

 

For now, grab the code up to this point.

 

Phase 4

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 2.14.15 PM

I added the hovers, played around with pre-drawn pixels, and added a random scrolling text thing.

 

I should mention here that Zipkon was a company I started in 2008 for a class project that I now use as my dummy company for almost everything. It works nicely too!

 

Grab the code.

 

Phase 5

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 3.27.35 PMFinally it’s time to remove the jQuery. It took me forever to find the un-minified code but I found it in a random google doc.

Here’s what was added:

- The ability to right click to delete a pixel

- No jQuery

- The grid of divs is pre-generated so the browser doesn’t have to do the work

Get the final code here. The html dev structure is the only thing different from the live site. Feel free to copy the html stuff in the body of the live site for an exact copy.

 

Lessons Learned

This was a small, week long project but with it I learned a ton. The stuff I learned had very little to do with how JavaScript naked and  jQuery stack up.

- Pre-Rendered vs Rendering on the Fly: Because I was working with just HTML, it was a significantly less load on the browser to have all the hundreds of divs used as anchor points. I found that rendering them all on page load ended up taking around a second each time because it wasn’t being loaded from cache. By have the pre-rendered DOM elements ready to go, the browser just had to load the file from cache and wait for user interaction.

- JavaScript vs jQuery: I think writing in jQuery takes so much less time, is far easier for the developer, is easier to read, and really is just simpler. Writing in naked javaScript ended up being a lot of googling that brought me back to jQuery. For this size of a project the only improvement was not having to make the external jQuery library call. Maybe that saved 2-3 milliseconds at most.

- Using Google Chrome App Store: Believe it or not I even packaged up a version for Google Chrome App store. It was not my original intention to put it up there, but I figured it would be fun to try. That in itself taught me about the importance of package manifests, the importance of correctly sized preview and logo images, and of course, the importance of double checking before submitting. Check it out on the store!

- Let Small Projects Morph: I think the biggest part of this whole project was letting it allow me to keep going down rabbit trails and discover new methods of doing things. In other words, letting the project lead the learning cycle rather than being in a vacuum of your goals.

- Backup Your Old Projects: I spent almost 2 hours trying to find the final code for this case study. It turns out, instead of being on my computer, in dropbox, or on Cloud9 (a program I used a lot last year until I lost almost an entire project): it was in the bottom of a google doc. Have a github account for your projects and your life will be far easier.

- Experiment: I honestly learned more about the power of jQuery with this little experiment than I did with any documentation I’ve ever read. I learned how easy jQuery is to read in comparison with  naked JavaScript (which is still easy to read). Worth the time and especially for the experience of stretching my own abilities and creating my first “game.”

 

Conclusion

I’m a tinkerer. I constantly have side projects going on in my time on weekends and evenings. I learn more with those side projects than anything I have ever done for school or for work. I highly recommend you challenge yourself to do something you’re curious about trying. Make a game, app, or just a static web page.

Now go give Bropixel a try!

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Super Pixalo 1.1.0 Released on OUYA

Finally, after about 3 weeks of working on this update in my spare time (I game dev as a hobby, not as a job) I submitted the 1.1.0 update which brought a ton of great stuff!

1. 3 new levels
2. 3 new collectibles
3. New “Timed” Game mode
4. Improved button mapping screen
5. Fixed end story bug that wouldn’t let you see the end of the story
6. Fixed bug that crashed game when you finished the last level
7. Fixed bug that didn’t show if you’d completed the last level
8. Memory optimizations for smoother gameplay experience
9. Fixed bug which would send player to menu in the 2010s after completing level

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Case Studies

I wrote a 37 page long case study on the creation of Super Pixalo in the spring of 2014 (this past spring) as my senior design project at Capitol College.

I’m close to editing it for public distribution (its a bit of a dull read at the moment as it’s meant for academic review) but I think it would be a better transition to release a few smaller case studies I had started.

Each game project or even internal project I do, I learn something significant. I have several projects that never saw the light of day that I’ll even talk about. But the first case study I’ll release is the one for Bropixel which was technically my first video game!

I’m writing it now and will upload it in a few days time.

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Hello World!

Welcome to the new site!

I’ve been kicking around the task of redoing my game site, and adding a blog, and centralizing everything for a few months now. Over the weekend I started actually designed and implementing a new theme for wordpress. Today I wrapped it up and added content. Now you can easily browse and play my games as well as other projects I’m working on.

It’s now in wordpress so I can easily add or remove things as needed. I’m going to try to optimize it so it’s lightening fast.

Enjoy looking around!

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Today is the Day.

Today is the day.

At 9AM PST (12PM EST) Super Pixalo will hit the OUYA discover store at 40% off!

The last 10 months have been FILLED with excitement, bumps, triumphs, breakthroughs, and new experiences all around!

I’d like to do a quick shout out to my wife, Caleigh, for being the biggest supporter, best fan, precise critic (her feedback shaped a lot of things in the game), and partner in life! I would not have been able to do full time school, full time work, and game dev on the side, then finishing college this past weekend, and preparing to grow our little family to 3, without the amazing love and support from Caleigh!

10320356_10152156994852087_280042175717245218_n

So go buy enough games so I can take her out to a super nice dinner, get her a massage, and get her off her feet when our little one makes his debut!

I’ll see you all in a few hours for launch!

Phil

 

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5 Days Left

Tinypixxels_Graphics

Ladies and Gents the time is nearly upon us!

Submittal

Last night I added the rest of the bonus levels, made some minor fixes, and submitted the final game to OUYA for content review. I have been told it could be anywhere from 1 day to three days before I hear back. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later so I can address any changes and stay on track for the Tuesday launch.

Streaming

A big bit of news, as you can see from the image above, is that TinyPixxels is streaming Super Pixalo for her OUYA Thursday stream! This is super big for me as it means some great exposure to OUYA gamers!

The stream will take place at the following link at 5:30pm EST. http://www.twitch.tv/tinypixxels

I’ll be in the chat answering questions.

Sale

Remember, Super Pixalo is on sale for $2.99 for the first week! Buy it THEN!! It’ll go to full price ($4.99) for the foreseeable future after that. MAybe there will be a sale in August but no promises.

OUYA Exclusivity

I originally planned to follow the OUYA release with a PC release in July. Because of how welcoming and warm the OUYA fans have been, I’m going to delay that so I can focus June and July on adding BONUS CONTENT! I’m hoping to add timers to the levels (optionally added via the config screen), scoreboards (once timers are in), extra credits (a section for users who purchase the game with everything from early sketches, to tutorials and tips for game devs), and of course Voice overs for the story.

So I’m NOT putting a date or month in stone for PC release. It will be in the works, but OUYA fans get first dibs because they are AWESOME!!!

Life

Life has been amazing! This Saturday I graduate from college with a degree in Management of Information Technology. My wife is due with our first child anytime in the next two weeks (EEK!). And I of course have a full time job making amazing websites over at Spark Experience!

Conclusion

I’ll keep updating here when I have a few moments. I’ll also post here or at http://ouyaforum.com/ about updates to the game or upcoming streams!

Thank you all a ton!

Phil

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Super Pixalo Releasing May 20th on OUYA at 40% Off Full Price

Super_Pixalo_Release_Date_Anouncement

Over the past week I’ve been emailing back and forth with the OUYA team (mostly Alex, Tim, Jared and Bob) and we’ve figured out that the best day to launch in May is the 20th. This will work perfectly for the sales schedule on the OUYA store and Super Pixalo will be 40% off the full price. That means for opening week, you will only have to pay $2.99 for the full game!

This is my way of thanking all you who have been following the development of this game since last Summer. This will also hopefully help with exposure to those who haven’t heard about Super Pixalo. Also the added 5 days will help me find and destroy any remaining bugs, add an extra layer of polish for launch, and maybe even add extra content.

I know delaying launch 5 days past the original launch date of the 15th may be annoying to some (who likes waiting?) but launching with a discounted price is important to me! I want those of you who purchase the game first to get it for as low as possible.

Here’s what to expect in the next twenty days: at least two brand new promo banners/wallpapers, 1 new gameplay specific trailer, and a modified trailer for the OUYA store, and if I have time a brand new website!

Also I wanted to let you know about one other thing; my wife is due with our first within the next 4 weeks. This means in the next few weeks you won’t hear a whole lot from me (that’s normal though :-]) and theres a possibility I’ll drop off the grid immediately after launch. Just know that any bugs that come up after launch will be addressed as quickly as possible.

Thank you all so much!

Phil Royer

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17 Days Until Launch

Dear Readers,

 

I’m almost there! I have completed 104 levels, written half the story, finished 101 collectables, and tested everything that I’ve developed so far. I have had several chances to get some great playtesting in from several friends both online and in person.

10245939_295390060611477_380427200_n

I have twenty levels left to design and implement, and I need to write and implement the rest of the story. It’s very exciting to be this close to being done with Super Pixalo. I cannot believe it’s almost done. My family and friends and especially Caleigh have been incredibly supportive during the whole process!

I only have about two more weeks of very little sleep and a ton of development at night (still gotta knock out those day job deadlines) but the end is in sight. There will be a new launch trailer at the time of launch too!

That’s about all I have to update right now as I need to get back into developing these levels and playtesting easter eggs (there are some VERY cool ones). Check out the image below to get a taste of what the game will look like in the OUYA store opening week! Look for that clean and bold blue “Pixalo” and press download in 17 days!

BmRoH8RIYAAGw0D

The next major milestone is getting through the review process at OUYA. I talked to the OUYA dev relations today and we’re going to get a jumpstart early on the reviewing to make sure we cover all 124 levels!

Until next time!

 

Phil

 

 

 

 

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