How I got addicted to Pinterest and what I did to overcome it

Productivity Essentials

In my quest to being a productive twenty-something, I came across this beautiful app that was better than Google and had overflowing brand new information like it was the fountain of knowledge in the age of Internet. It was Pinterest.

I avoid all forms of social media, but Pinterest had an appeal that was hard to resist. It had everything I needed to know or didn’t even know that I should. Whether it was about self-care, health, fitness, productivity, entrepreneurship, design, marketing, blogging, recipes, EVERYTHING, there’s always a few more pins that stirred my curiosity and had to be saved, just in case I might, you know, need it in the future.

I sincerely believed I was doing more, learning more and somehow making progress toward my goals with every scroll and swipe in the app.

I was so productive that I had to put off my sleeping time by…

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One Lovely Blog Award – Game Maker’s Edition: 7 Games You Loved

I won’t call myself a gamer because that would be an insult to the real gamers out there. But I did play some games, most of which I recall with my old PlayStation that has been my and my sister’s gaming buddy until May of this year when it gave its last breath and went to console heaven.

In memory of the good ol’ console and in light of the One Lovely Blog Award – Game Maker’s Edition by lucidmage, I’m tweaking its third rule for game makers and people like me who love games but aren’t gamers.

Nominees are to follow these rules:

  • Link back to the blogger who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Add 7 facts about yourself Add 7 games that you loved
  • Nominate 7 other bloggers game makers & let them know via a comment.

One Lovely Blog Award logo with a heart at the back
Many thanks to lucidmage for nominating and including me in the list though I have yet to become a game maker myself. This fellow once reminded me of the importance of taking a step back to evaluate the core experience of a game and not getting absorbed in bloating it up with features.

7 Games I Loved

Tales of Destiny II

title screen of Tales of Destiny II

Tales of Destiny II (a.k.a. Tales of Eternia and not to be confused with Tales of Destiny 2) was my first and the only JRPG I’ve really loved since. I got this and an extra memory card from my cousin’s boyfriend at the time. It was 3 discs long which took me and my sister a month of summer vacation to finish. And boy did we have a great time! Boss fights with its real-time battle system were epic. Exploring the diverse worlds of Inferia and Celestia and looking for hidden locations from the ship were a joy. It told a compelling story of adventure and valor with an endearing cast of characters far from the whiny Cheria and snooty Hubert from Tales of Graces f. Unraveling the craymel artes by fringing and using them to kick monster butts and the Fake chest add up to the long list of what made playing it an incredible experience.

Spyro Year of the Dragon

Spyro finds a baby dragon named Isabelle

When it comes to amazing worlds of fantasy, the original Spyro series by Insomniac definitely tops the list. Fun, exciting gameplay in a myriad of imaginative but carefully designed levels sets this game apart from those of its time. It’s that much fun to play and replay that I might even get a credit card so I can download it from the PlayStation Network.

I got a glimpse of the first title in the series from a demo cd and played some levels of Ripto’s Rage during visits to a friend’s house. Those brief moments of playing were enough to convince me that Spyro was a necessity in my library.

Year of the Dragon was the game that I always just nearly finished. Why I couldn’t was due to a glitch that only happened in versions that were distributed through the wrong sources. In my defense, I got mine at the age that I was too naive to tell what was original and what wasn’t. All I knew was that I had a Spyro game in my hand, and that made me happy. Up to this day, I still don’t know how it ended, and I wouldn’t want to know by any other means until the day I finally download it from PSN and replay.

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
Coco about to jump at the Orient Express level
Coco at Level 3: Orient Express

Crash Bandicoot 3 was the game that didn’t need a strong narrative to keep us playing for long hours. Jumping, running, belly flopping and spinning through an assortment of 30+ levels was simply fun and entertaining. Boss levels were similar to Spyro’s. Lots of gems and relics to collect. I couldn’t get enough of Crash’s levels and antics, but playing as Coco in the Orient Express and Midnight Run is always the most satisfying.

Chocobo Racing

Chocobo Racing cover

Chocobo Racing is the cute racing game that you’ll always give in to and won’t regret playing afterwards. Every detail of this game is adorable from its characters to the different tracks and music. Don’t be fooled though, multi-player races and the grand prix can get messy with every racer trying to steal power ups, shoot fireballs, set timed explosions, zap you with lightning and blast you out of the race.

Pac-Man World
Pac-Man at the first level: Buccaneer Beach
Pac-Man at the first level: Buccaneer Beach

Pac-Man World was our go-to game whenever we wanted to play something exciting that challenged our reflexes. Most of the levels were designed with just the right level of difficulty to keep us wanting to play more, but Anubis Rex will always be an exception.

Tekken 3
Tekken 3: Eddy vs Ogre
Tekken 3: Eddy vs Ogre

Tekken 3 was our first game for the PlayStation, and the only title that was considered family entertainment because Dad bought it himself. His favorite character was Paul whose manliness surpassed that of Sylvester Stallone and Vin Diesel combined.

This is also probably the last fighting game that I’ll ever love. Tekken 3 stands out among those that came after it, including Tekken Tag Tournament 2, despite the more advanced graphics and bigger selection of playable characters.

Rock Band

The Beatles: Rock Band title screen

The Rock Band series deserves a special spot here because it was the game that I played alone or with friends whenever things felt like a mess. Rock Band 2 was what made me decide to finally purchase a PS3 console. A year later I also got secondhand copies of the first title and The Beatles: Rock Band.

Nominated game makers

I nominate the following bloggers, whose games and written works have either inspired or supported me in my aspiration to become a game maker, for the One Lovely Blog Award – Game Maker’s Edition. I’m curious to know what games made them play ’til their fingers went numb and red.

Forty Winks
The Chi-Scroller
Mobile Game Development
My Inner Geek
Ascender
Retridemption
Megan Condis
Ver. Spot
Elias Daler | Re:creation

Game Review: Ascender Game Prototype

Ascender is a puzzle platformer for PC from the GameChanger team. With its beautiful music and visual style, it had me at the title screen. I knew I was up for a fun and delightful experience.

And it doesn’t disappoint; the game was engaging even at the first minute of playing. Art remains to be its strongest suit, and the creativity that went into art development and creating the world is more than commendable. I love the fact that the visuals were hand-drawn and have a polished-but-not-too-perfect look.

Sky is an interesting character who is likable and makes the player curious. I would love to see him with different animations when he does different things like briefly jumping, jumping down a thin platform or hurling himself using a hook mechanism.

The tutorial was paced just right, introducing the controls and objects just when the player needs to know about it while at the same time, leaving room for the player to figure out other puzzles by himself. The controls are easy to learn, and using the rune console to acquire abilities adds a bit of complexity and challenge. It is also one of the game’s unique features.

This visually captivating game with the addition of the rune system has just the right level of challenge that make for a fresh and fun puzzle platformer. I’m excited to play more of it when it comes out in 2016.

You can download the Ascender Game Prototype for PC or Mac from indiedb.com.

Featured image: Screenshot of Ascender Game Prototype at the beginning of the level

August is catching-up-with-life month

What I did:

  • Spent time with loved ones and kept relationships healthy.
  • Took up new and challenging tasks at work – mostly involved refactoring the code library to be reused across different projects but also included some new features.
  • Created a complete mini-game with art and animation, not just functionality, and even though it will eventually be redesigned by the art team. This is a text twist mini-game which one of my teammates had started but passed on to me later. I just had to make it work and look exactly the way I see it in my mind. I’m hoping I could package this one into an educational tool for teachers to use in their classrooms.

What I didn’t do:

  • Coding for my personal, first-to-be commercial game. Because life happens and I got to do other fun things too. 🙂
Featured image of bunny mascot from Gratisography: Free, use-as-you please, high-resolution images by Ryan McGuire

There’s hope somewhere down the long and winding road of indie game development

I’m at the point when optimism has dwindled and the path that once presented itself to be that of hope has become daunting and uncertain.

I’ve finished most of the things that I planned to do at the beginning of the project. That’s great, but until I playtest the prototype and get feedback on it from target players, there will always be doubt as to whether the design concepts that I had in place are any good.

But I can’t have someone else playtest it at this stage. The things that I wish to improve on are piling up. These, too, are mostly conceptual that need to be fleshed out. It’s hard to measure exactly where I’m at right now, harder to tell if this is going anywhere.

There’s also that itch to work on the visuals just to get a sense of accomplishment despite the messy code and the lack of assets. I’ve been avoiding this because (1) I don’t want to put boundaries on what can be done without seeing the actual work of the artist (2) I didn’t want to spend time writing code that I would throw away for sure.

So now, here we are. At a psychological roadblock.

I look down and see two pieces of painted acrylic hanging from the string down my neck.

Like amulets, they restored the strength that I need to take another step, leap over obstacles and jump across pitfalls. With persistence and hope, I know I’ll to make it to the next level alive.

Featured Image: 
Pendants of Bruho Barbero and his enemy from the comics series, Bruho Barbero the Barberian, created by Sir Omeng Estanislao

Arcanine Prototype Week 4 Review: Designing Tutorials for an ‘Approachable’ Game

I’m happy to report that the prototype for the 2D platformer game is almost done!

    What’s done:

  • Playable 10 levels with in-game tutorials and character progression
  • Basic controls and abilities of the player
  • Two types of weapon to attack 4 types of enemies
    What’s left:

  • Implement effects of collision detection among enemies, weapon and the hero.
  • Check collision between actors using convex polygons instead of using rectangles or circles.
  • Add assets from Sir Omeng and adjust actor properties and behavior to match assets.
  • Play test and find out if the players enjoyed the experience and what needs to be changed in the controls, gameplay, physics behavior and tutorials if any.

Aside from coding, most of the development this week was spent on designing the tutorials. I learned over the week how important it was to make games approachable and how well-designed tutorials help us achieve that goal. Why would game developers want to design approachable and not just easy games? Watch these videos by Extra Credits to find out why you should and how you can make better tutorials.

Arcanine Prototype Week 3 Update & 30 Tiny Tricks That Will Make Your Action Game Better

    First, some updates:

  • There are now 3 types of enemies. Each enemy type will be introduced in a separate level as the player progresses and will require him to interact with the world differently.
  • Fixed multiple levels and rendering instructions on stage. This is an important part of the game where both the storyline and tutorial hints are presented to the user through in-game instructions.
  • Finished first 6 demo levels

That’s about it. There’s definitely a lot of things to catch up on with the game, and inspiration was one of them. I watched this talk by Jan Willem Nijman of Vlambeer on how to make action games feel better. It’s a great source for ideas on amplifying the fun by changing and adding small details that provide sensory feedback and make for a better playing experience. Watch as he turns a basic 2D platformer to a fun and exciting 2D shooter game. I hope you get a lot from it too.