Finished my first assignment, it’s all printed up and ready to go.  Then I looked at the schedule and realized we have our next assignment due in like 2 days, PLUS revisions on this assignment as soon as we get it back.  It’s a steady workload, but it’s broken down into small sections so it’s not super overwhelming yet.  It’s not “there’s too much to do at once, I can’t handle this!” but a more steady flow of “okay that’s done, next on the to-do list?”  I’ll be glad when the business plan stage is over and I get to start actually doing stuff though!

Today we learned about researching demographics and extrapolating psychographics from the data.  Which is a fancy sounding way of saying “Who’s gonna’ buy my stuff, and why?” haha  There were some fun nuances to mull over, like while the adult is the one who actually dishes out the money for their kid’s toys, the kid’s are the actual customer because they’re the ones that control which toy that money is spent on.  They see the Ninja Turtle box and go “mom mom I NEEEEEED that!!” until she gives in and buys it…so ultimately the kid is the one that made the decision, thus they’re the one to target.  That’s an obvious example, but a weirder one was about tire ads.  Tires are advertised in the sports sections of newspapers because primarily males are the ones who buy the tires in the family, and males the ones who primarily read the sports section.  iPhones are a great gaming platform, but iPhones are so accessable now, with the simple touch interface and sparkling icons and all that there’s probably a huge market of girls using them these days.  Are those girls buying games on them?  Is it worth targeting them?  Are the hardcore younger male gamers the ones who will drop $10 on a game, or are they the ones that get up in arms over having to pay more than 99 cents for a game?  Lots of questions to find the answers to.

Found out there’s an IGDA Calgary that meets like once a month, so I’m going to go try and hit that up tomorrow evening and meet the local devs…if I’m not bogged down with homework, that is!  I’m psyched to find out there’s other devs around…makes it just a little less lonely starting up a company.  I’m technically not even developing anything right now but hopefully they won’t hold that against me after a couple beers haha

I’ve been planning out what project would be the best to do and in what order.  I want to start extremely simple just to get the process and platform down, and slowly build up from there.  I’m thinking each game I do I’d like to try adding something new to it.  Like the first game may just be a really simple one…and then the second is still pretty simple but it has some cutscenes in it so I can figure out a good method of doing those.  Then the third is simple, with cutscenes, but adds voice acting.  etc. etc. so down the road I’m familiar with the pitfalls of different sections (I’m already pretty familiar, I have 5 years experience in the industry and man did we have a shitload of pitfalls haha but I figure it’s different when you’re in charge yourself).  I want my games to be very flashy and visual…Capcom super-moves where you see a portrait slide out in front of a zooming background, Heavy Rain with all it’s dramatic serious cutscenes, glowy-flashy menus instead of static buttons.  The gameplay of my games will probably be fairly simple, generally just one core gameplay concept, so I want to make sure they’re polished up visually to make up for it.  I want cutscenes to be stylin’ like this quick test I made:

Now to do this, I’m gonna’ need an animation tool of some kind.  I can pre-render events but that’s going to up the final file size a bunch.  Plus it means no player interaction and at some point I’d like to mess with interactive cutscenes.  I’d like a tool where I can slide/rotate/scale/etc. pieces of in-game art around and have it spit out a bunch of numbers easily usable in an iPhone game engine.  Think cutscenes from the NES, but more awesome haha  From what I can tell, and this sounds insane to me because this is 2010, not the early 80s, but it looks like most small iPhone devs are handling their animation by manually programming in coordinates.  I can’t even comprehend doing that these days.  I’m sure larger companies write their own animation tools, but it’d be nice if there was something available for us little guys.

It looks like a person could use Unity and just keep everything flat on the Z-Axis.  This wouldn’t actually be that bad, from an artist’s perspective…it’s not altogether different than using After Effects or something.  But it sounds like using Unity on the iPhone for just 2d is pretty slow-ass/bulky compared to something like Cocos 2d that’s designed for handling a jillion sprites and stuff.  Worst-case a person could put a simple program together or use basic scripting inside a paint program to spit out a bunch of raw data coordinates and have the programmer write something that uses those and interpolates all the coordinates at the right speeds and stuff…it’s just that that’s a lot of work to go through, haha  It looks like there’s something called Core Animation which is built into the iPhone and handles interpolation…but the descriptions make it sound like people just use this interpolation animation system for sliding icons around or making a button pulsate smoothly, zzzzzzzz…of course they’re just using it for boring stuff like that, they’re having to enter the numbers all in manually!

So I’m thinking maybe I can just check out a bunch of tutorials on what the Core Animation wants and figure out a way to turn raw data coordinates into that format.  That’s getting pretty over my head though, I’m an artist, my programming skills are pretty basic haha  I muddled out a hacked together script of After Effects that spit out .xml data back at the company I used to work at and some awesome programmers there who recognized the amount of time/frustration the tool would save (so they wouldn’t have to manually enter the bigass list of coordinates I’d hand them, haha) added to it till it became a pretty robust tool that made things infinately more efficient and let us make much better looking games (unfortunately the tool did not make the gameplay any better).

I want good animation dammit!  After all, as the current batch of retro remakes has shown, polish can make all the difference in the world, like in A Boy and His Blob…what a visual feast THAT turned into:

 

- Yarr