Categories
Business Design Game Development Game Industry

My Indie Educational Game Is Out!

If it isn’t obvious from the gap between this post and the last one, many things are happening!

Letter Taps Is Out Now!

My indie educational game, Letter Taps is available in the Google Play and iOS App Store now! This is the product of my last six months and I can’t tell you how good it feels to have it up for download and receiving positive feedback. Beside some very kind reviews and personal messages, one endorsement in particular really made my day (and many days since).

Yes. That’s Mitchell Kriegman of Clarissa Explains It All and Bear in the Big Blue House fame, and too many other accomplishments to list here. I wrote last year about all the hilarious homebrew PC games Clarissa made on her show in the 90s and Mitchell liked it enough to share it around. When I reached out about what I’d been up to since, he couldn’t have been more gracious.

Seriously, go support everything Mitchell Kriegman does.

Kid Tested, Teacher Approved!

As part of launching an educational indie game and product line, I searched high and low for opportunities to gain insight and feedback on what I was doing. I knew my game helped teach my son to count and recite the alphabet quickly, but I wanted to go further in the play testing department.

Luckily for me, certain schools here in the Greater St. Louis region have unprecedented levels of commitment to getting kids interested in and excited about technology, and software development specifically.

I was blown away when the Francis Howell school district invited me to be a guest speaker for students and parents just as I was preparing to release the game. My wife got to join me and grabbed some great photos. We had a blast! Sure enough, kids and teachers alike expressed enthusiasm about Letter Taps as a learning tool. I was sure to set up the app for optional bulk licensing for registered educational organizations in both app stores.

Great thanks to all those involved in those phenomenal two days at the Francis Howell school district. I will not forget it!

Lending my voice at Gamasutra

Finally, I put together some thoughts about launching a studio, carrying out a game development project, and launching a product line revolving around young kids over at Gamasutra. The post falls squarely within the “shop talk” category but it’s the kind of stuff I love reading from other studio heads. I hope it’s of use–or at least some entertainment–to other newcomers working their way into the game. Please feel free to comment or even share it around if you find it useful!

More soon! CodeWritePlay is still designated as “home” for keeping up with my appearances and work around the web. Hoping to do some more development blogging in the very near future as things start hopping again.

Drop me a line and check out Letter Taps!

Categories
Design Game Development Productivity

Hands-On GameDev: Five-Minute Textures

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you may have caught me sprucing up my “developer art” during a coding break, thrilled with myself for very quickly improving the backdrop of my card game prototype. If not, here was the tweet:

Now, clearly this is not game-changing artwork–though I like the Contra level 1 thing it has going on–but the speed with which I created something appropriate was a huge win. I thought I would share a couple of tricks for anyone interested. You may or may not consider this technique production-quality, but it may be a lifesaver during your next game jam weekend.

Quick and Dirty 2D Textures

For demonstration purposes, let’s say I need to come up with three materials to use, yesterday. I’m going to quickly create ground, water, and rock textures that won’t look out of place in a retro-style 2D game. To follow along as closely as possible, you will need just about any version of GIMP.

Quick note: I will not go into TONS of detail about the individual steps. These are all pretty routine tasks, and if you’re unfamiliar with them, they’ll be easy to look up.

  1. Create a new white image – The size is up to you.
  2. Fill the image with your desired base color – I’m starting with grass, I’ll use green.
  3. Create a new transparent layer on top
    layers
  4. Fill the top layer with a pattern – Use your imagination and pick a pattern that might create a nice texture with a little tweaking. Worry about its texture, not its color. You’ll get better at this with a little experimentation. I chose Walnut.pattern

    Note: There are good tutorials out there for adding patterns to GIMP if you need more to work with.

  5. Adjust the pattern layer:
    1. Start with Opacity at 50%, tweak as desired.
    2. Set a layer mode that improves the look. For my purposes, Burn usually looks good.

    pattern2

    Don’t worry if you’re not quite loving the look yet, we haven’t yet applied the dirtiest shortcut of all…

  6. Apply filthy, fake pixelation:
    1. Click Filters > Blur > Pixelize…
    2. Experiment with the Pixel Width and Pixel Height settings until you like the look in the preview window.

    pattern3

  7. Make final opacity and layer mode changes as desired

You’re done!

There are any number of tweaks you can make to this recipe, including gradients on the base color layer, scaling up the pattern layer for an even more pronounced retro/pixelated look, etc.

Here are my other two patterns and their ingredients:

Water

water

Pattern: Leopard
Pattern Layer Mode: Burn
Opacity: 20%
Pixellization: Around 4 Height/Width
Other Tweaks: Pattern scaled up to 250% height/width

Stone

stone

Pattern: Burlwood (Whatever that is)
Pattern Layer Mode: Difference
Opacity: 50%
Pixellization: Up around 10 Height/Width
Other Tweaks: Pattern scaled way up, saturation reduced, contrast increased

Now go make some textures, and let me know if this kind of post helps!