A development blog for our mobile adventure game

Uncategorized

MicroVentures is now available on Apple iTunes for iPhone and iPad!

Image

We did it! MicroVentures is now available on all iOS devices:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microventures/id589994705

Like our Android release, it’s completely free/ad-free! Let us know how it plays, we’d like to know what you think.

In other news: 

  • Android release is still going strong with over 1,000 installs
  • New Studio Mu website in the works
  • Kickstart Bunny Run: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1738566771/bunny-run

 


MicroVentures is now available on Google Play!

Image

As some of you may know, MicroVentures is available on the Android App Store, or ‘Google Play’. It’s completely free, ad-free, and available for download here:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.studiomu.microventures

So far, we’ve been getting 5-star reviews, which is a great accomplishment since we didn’t pay for any of those reviews. Our only problem right now is that the game does not work on Samsung Galaxy S3, which we have just pushed out a fix for. It should be up on the app store by tonight, and hopefully those display issues are fully resolved.

We’re trying to get our game up on the Apple App Store as well, though that process is a little bit more tedious. Nonetheless, we hope to get MicroVentures on iOS, also free of charge and ad-free!

So if you have an Android, and that Android does not have MicroVentures, then what are you waiting for? It’s FRREEEEE!!

– Studio Mu


Beta v0.4 is Here!

It’s finally here, Beta v0.4 is now available for you to download FOR FREE!

Features/Bugs:
– Massive story generator fixes
– New UI Art
– Loading Screen Hint Text
– Updated music
– Small bug fixes & minor tweaks

Here’s a link:
Download Here!

Also, Check out our IGF page!

QR Code for the game:
Take a picture of this or whatever

Love,
James F


MicroVentures has been submitted to IGF, hurray!

Hey All,

We haven’t put out an update in a while, mainly due to the scramble of employment post-graduation. Though as CEO of Studio Mu, I am proud to say that we have submitted our game to the Independent Game Festival, both the general and student competition. Our team worked extremely hard on this game, and we that it shows during the judgement of our game. Along with us, Pretentious Games’ Hello World has also been submitted to both competition, and we wish them luck as well.

In other notes, we’ve tweaked and polished a few things in the game, including:
– Few art updates
– Fixed several bugs with teleportation
– Fixed several bugs in storygen
– Many other small fixes I can’t think of right now

The Story Generator still has some kinks in it that show up while playing on the phone, and not while debugging on the computer. We have some leads, but unfortunately we’ve been so tied up with our jobs, as well as hunting for jobs, that it hasn’t been fully cleared out. Kyle has made great progress on it, and since we can update our IGF submission, I hope to get it fully sorted out soon and have it ready for judging.

Some future thoughts our team has been throwing around include the possibility of porting our game to another SDK. Though Marmalade has been good overall, there are many flaws within their SDK that seem to especially affect our game. This of course, will only happen if our game picks up an incredible amount of hype and it becomes apparent that we’ll need to expand outside of Marmalade.

One other future thought (now getting into fairy-tale dreamland), is that, if our game becomes so popular and grows a huge fanbase, we will develop tools for users to create their own content for our game, including new levels, heroes, enemies, stories, etc, and hopefully create a community where this user-generated content is freely shared. This game started from a humble childhood-inspired idea, free of any monetization plans, and I plan on keeping it that way whether this project tanks or prospers.

Well, aside from all those pie-in-the-sky ideas, that’s all I have for today. We should be pushing an updated .apk very soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Over and out,
James F


Back in Business!

After a long hiatus, Studio Mu is back in business! Well, more or less. With the team scattered to the four corners of the Earth and many of us facing different responsibilities, our reunion hasn’t been quite as monumental or complete as we would like, but there is not time to feel down! We’re taking MicroVentures to IGF!!!

 
The student category is open for submission until the end of October, and we’re gonna get in, one way or another. Fletcher has already addressed a number of engine issues, and I am currently wrestling with a story generation bug on the phones. While the game won’t be releasable by October, we are going to have it at least feature complete by then. After that, content, balance, and polish. The foundation of any game’s healthy, nutritious breakfast.

 
Keep your eyes and ears open, folks. We should have a beta v0.4 sometime soon.

 
– Kyle “The loneliest number” Huey


An Update to our Beta v0.3 Coming Soon!

There’s several bugs in our current beta, the biggest one being that everyone is getting the same three stories. We’re going to fix this in the next week or two and release a Beta v0.4, once we’ve all settled down after graduation.

Also, we’re going to be posting up the soundtrack very soon, probably with our next beta release.


We have a new trailer!

Check it out!


MicroVentures Beta is up!

Are you READY!?

Make sure you’ve allowed installation of Non-Market Applications

If you’re looking at this on your phone, Download MicroVentures Now!
Note that this is a Beta Release.

Have a QR Code Reader?

QR.png
What is this?

How was it?

Give us some feedback after you’ve played!

Problems installing? Let us know!


From the Executive Side-Table: 900 Revisions Later

So as you may have noticed, we haven’t been updating this blog too much. Sometimes when there’s a lot of work to get done, things go on the back-burner. Sometimes, those things on the back-burner are actually really important things that should be routinely getting done rather than shoving them on the back-burner.

But I digress.

One of the biggest news is that we will be coming into beta in several more days! We’ve definitely come a long way since our last posts. Here is a brief overview of some development accomplishments/features/whatever that has happened:

  • We will have SIX areas: Dungeon, Forest, Snow, Cave, Swamp (graveyard), and Desert
  • The Story Generator now includes SAGAS! Basically, a Saga in a story that you continuously play over several adventures. So rather than having little tid-bits of stories, Sagas have a good story build-up and ending. This is especially good when major things happen in the story world, such as a Boss’ defeat.
  • We will be implementing Shops/Special Rooms in the levels, as well as random shrines that will have some sort of cool (possibly meta) functionality.
  • The three heroes all have different fighting styles: The Knight is a melee-based fighter with combo attacks and blocking, the Wizard picks up spell runes that give him special abilities, and the Rogue is equipped with a Crossbow and has extra sight for stealthy distanced attacks.
  • A whole ton of fun, wacky items that help you build strategy as you play.
  • An amazingly solid Marmalade game engine that houses our awesome game.
  • Awesome art, music and writing that give MicroVentures it’s own whimsical style.

There’s many more, but you’ll just have to wait and see. The next steps, as we reach our feature freeze, is to hammer out all the bugs, get in every art/sound asset we can, and give the final product a pristine polish.

We will be creating a demo video soon after the beta, so stay tuned!


A Few Sneak Peek Screenshots

Here’s some screenshots of our game. We’re still in the process of replacing all the programmer art, but that should be relatively soon.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Week 5-8: Growth

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I wanted to post the pictures up for now. I’ll come back to blog a little later. =)


Sprint II

Sam here,

Phew. We just finished up our 2nd sprint today and ended it with another late night coding session. I have to say, I am incredibly impressed with what our team accomplished this sprint. There are a ton of new things since the end of our last sprint including: phone deployment, item usage, HUD screen, item spawning, boss spawning, pathfinding, menu screens and much more. Needless to say this was quite a successful sprint.

This sprint, the gameplay team worked on a number of key features that needed to be done in order to complete our MVP. At first, Clement and I started on item mapping. This was very technical and forced us to learn new coding techniques like function pointers and we also had to learn how Marmalade implements text file parsing. After many tries we got this kind of working. We still had no way to test because HUD hadn’t been implemented. In the mean time, Gerrit and Dan worked on pathfinding. They implemented an A* pathfinding technique, that basically checks the cost of each potential path to the target and chooses the one with the smallest cost. After a little polishing, they got this working great.

After items, I moved on to bosses. Bosses proved to be a lot harder than anyone could have imagined. Basically, all the regular enemy code was implemented on the idea that every enemy is only 1 square. Unfortunately for us, bosses are 4 squares. This led to problems of adjacency checking, attacking and moving. Dan really saved the day on this and had an idea in his head of what he wanted to do. 20 work hours later, after testing and checking all possible cases we got bosses partially functioning, but they don’t currently move. Just shows how hard it was getting this to work.

Like I mentioned earlier, we had another late night coding party equipped with a Costco run and Rockstar energy drink a’plenty. (Just as a side note, Lemonade Rockstar Recovery is really not good. First it only contains 3% lemon juice, which should be a red flag already for a “Lemonade” flavored drink. Also, it contains something called Milk Thistle, which does not sound like something that you want to be in your energy drinks.)

Anyway, I managed to start my sugar crash literally minutes after consuming my first Rockstar and struggled to stay focused for most of the night. I ended up staying until about 3:30AM, drove home, got a couple hours of sleep and then came back for our final scrum of this sprint. Clement and I were the scrum masters this sprint and this was our last scrum with that title 😦 Seems like only yesterday I was just a naive little kid learning how to master a scrum. Boy, how the days fly by…

Overall, this sprint was an amazing success. I am incredibly proud of the team and really am looking forward to implemented all of these cool features we thought of for future sprints. Until next time, I am signing off.

-Sam “I hope Rockstar isn’t one of our sponsors” Jenkins


Designing Adventure (pt. 2)

Hey guys it’s Mark again.

We’re nearing the end of sprint 2 now, so that entails yet another blog post.

Good news, the BSP algorithm is finally operational.   There were definitely quite a few rough spots but we powered through them well enough with assistance.   Part of the algorithm needed tweaking as the rooms generated at first tended to the side of extreme proportions. Rooms would look like corridors or almost appear non-existant.

Michael Mateas here at UCSC is teaching a Game AI course that everyone on the team is taking, including myself.  Part of the class involves us taking up a final project involving artificial intelligence in games.  For our level generation team we’ve decided to do an extension of our current workload with a bit of help from some of the other guys.  Chris, our engine guy, and Clement, an upstanding resident of the game lab are with us on this.

Long story short our group is planning on incorporating a third algorithm and doing work towards having multiple algorithms used within the same level.  Rather than having a level purely generated using digging or BSP, we can instead have two or potentially three different algorithms operating in the same area.  So an outdoor clearing could be a made with the digging algorithm connected to an indoor section made with the conventional BSP algorithm.  We have plans on refactoring  BSP code to operate in this context, seeing as it does a good job of dividing an area into reasonable chunks.

The third algorithm we haven’t really ironed out yet.  My suggestion was using a pre-established maze generation algorithm then simply filling in dead ends to make it appear less sparse.  Maze generation algorithms are easy to come by, the logic for filling in gaps is a little less defined.  Alternatively Chris suggested we do something with particle systems that connected particles together to form a level.  It bears similarity to a cellular automata building algorithm, but it sounds interesting nevertheless.  I’m excited to see where it all goes.

-Mark “I really can’t find time for pictures” Zablan


MegaVenture

This post was supposed to be made quite a while ago, but smartphones are a cunning beast to extract media from.

A couple of weeks ago, the team decided to take a break and go to the boardwalk until it was time for dinner at Woodstocks. The journey was perilous, and sadly, we lost Mark and Clement along the way. We did not grieve for them though, for they would have wanted us to have fun regardless of their mortal well being.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Much fun was had. We left some advertising on the beach, had a 4v4 minigolf game (my team inadvertently had the worst scores), and then we played a bunch of old arcade games, about half of which were broken. Then, to cap off the completion of the first sprint, we went to Woodstocks for dinner with James’ friend Peter, who also happens to be a member of SyzEG, a UCSC project form last year. Much fun was had.

Ignore the fact that most of these are pictures of us standing on the beach together. Don’t question us.

-Kyle “last person you should give a camera” Huey


It’s been a good week for MicroVentures! We’ve just completed the first week of our second sprint and we are moving right along.

Like last sprint, we decided to bite off a big chunk of work to compete. Thankfully, this time we took some advice from our parents and cut up the work into small bite-sized pieces before chowing down! Our tasks this sprint have been much more thought out and we can complete most of them within a couple hours. This means we have no excuse for not completing a bunch of tasks each day! Damn….

We’ve completed a bunch of back-end components like the camera and sound system  and the level generator is working better than ever! I’ve been mostly working on getting the story generation framework done so we can integrate it with the level generator. It’s pretty much going to be amazing.

Speaking of amazing, check this screenshot of our game:

Ok, maybe it doesn’t look that amazing, but it is pretty amazing! This is a zoomed in look at what you saw in previous posts and how the game will look. Well, the game will have pretty sprites and buttons and such, but you get the idea. I hope…

 

 

Not only have we been making the game more awesome, we’ve also been making the team more awesome! We spent Friday afternoon playing around at the Boardwalk arcade before our dinner at Woodstock’s. Since we had been getting along so well, we decided to introduce some competition! After a round of minigolf (in which we realized we aren’t great at minigolf) we headed to the arcade proper to play some classic games.

 

A good time and a nice break from coding. Speaking of, I should probably get back to work…


Week 4: Real Talk

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Let’s see, coming into this week we were almost eighty hours off our burndown chart. Not exactly something you want to tell Jim at the end of the Sprint. On top of that since our whole group was in Game AI, we all had Pacman due Thursday. The plan was to finish Pacman Wednesday night and reserve Thursday’s all nighter for Microventures. That was the plan anyway.

Tuesday was our presentation day for Microventures at the Business Design Competition. We had a good reception so hopefully we’ll get some interesting prospects to work with. At this point though we’re a little doubtful someone will come in and match their business with our programming. We’ll have to wait until next week though.

Wednesday night comes around and the “good kids” are all pretty much done. The other half of us are kind of lagging behind. Thursday night comes and we’re still working on Pacman. Oh well. That’s why we are having an all nighter right? Chris and I finished Pacman a couple hours before midnight.

The all nighter was another success. We actually have a procedurally  generated level with spawned monsters and chests. We can even move our player around. There was a lot of debate over pathfinding. At first we wanted to make a placeholder pathfinding for this Sprint, but realized we shouldn’t attempt pathfinding at all if we’re going to replace it later with A*. So in the end the player can only move to adjacent squares.

So the Sprint has come and gone. We’re still fifty hours off our goal, but considering what we have, I am quite satisfied myself. I promised you last week for a playable game right? And did it happen? Yes it did. Well it’s interactive anyway. The true success here is not the project, but the team itself.

StudioMu

StudioMu

Yeah, that’s the team right there. These are the guys I wish I met three years ago, back when I had little faith that computer science geeks just weren’t my type. Funny thing is I’ve known Chris since middle school, Dan for three years, worked with Kyle last year, and apparently met James and Fletcher back in CS80K. Fletcher actually knocked Reflector (my 80K game) from placing in the finals. James made this hilarious Metal Gear esque game that I still remember giving me smiles until this day. I guess it just goes to show, you don’t really know who you’re going to get along with until you actually give it a good shot.

Then again it’s not fair to say I would just get along with any other 170 group. Fact is I was on Hello World for a short couple of days before I realized the team just wasn’t for me. Being on a team of highly skilled programmers can be intimidating and disheartening. And with different personalities it probably would have led me down the same hole I’ve always fallen into. Yes, their game is looking great these days, but I’ve never looked back since I switched to Microventures. As much as finding a project you believe in is important, it’s equally important that you find a team that you’re willing to fight for. It’s like war right?

When I go home people’ll ask me, “Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?” You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.

– Black Hawk Down

It’s funny that half the year is still here, yet I’m already growing sad thinking about what I’ll be leaving behind. The team, the lab, just the environment is superb here. I really wish college life had started here. It’s so motivating to be working right along side your peers. My middle school teacher told me I’d make my true friends in college, because being friends with people who share the same goals is just powerful. He was very passionate about his work, so maybe “true friends” is a little much, but surely some of the best friends you’ll make is probably right.

Not sure what else to say about the team. Just a real fun bunch with each our own quirky, but similar personalities. Think I’ll dedicate a part of each blog to a different team member. I’ll call it “Meet the Team.” Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

– Clement “I Do Real Talk” Tran


Sprites, Animations, the games eyes

Hey everyone,

Chris here. So I was having trouble with the wordpress and logging in the past few days, hence why my post is a bit late… yeah I can do a lot of programming stuff but when it comes to blogging I’m clueless 😛 So I guess I’ll start this post out with who I am. Lets see, I’m Mexican/American, I think all my ancestors were Mexican so I’m not a mix of things. I’m also a professional juggler and have been teaching/performing juggling for the past 9 years of my life. Last summer I started teaching Game design classes professionally to kids 10-18 years of age, and currently have a job teaching at Mission Hill Middle School in SC each Wednesday right after our scrum meetings. I’m teaching the students game maker so its not a lot of work making a class curriculum or anything. I also teach some students juggling on Fridays a few hours after the scrum meeting, but again that’s not difficult as they’re beginners. I am also still working for Kid Natural porting the Android game I finished last quarter over to the Iphone (using marmalade too!). I kind of feel like I’m the guy on the team who is never really there as I am always busy; I would love to have full dedication to the team and be in the labs way more than I can with everyone, but then I’m faced with the reality that I cant really afford college or food if I don’t do other jobs like how I am right now… not getting scholarships or grants sucks, or not coming from a rich family. I just hope the team isn’t taking it as me not wanting or caring about them and the game, because I do care a lot and am really excited about this project and working with them all; I’ve been trying super hard to be as helpful and available to them all with the game.

So anyway enough about me, lets talk about some Microventures progress :D. We got a decent amount of work done this sprint and are off to a great start with our game. This time around I was responsible for doing engine work with rendering, and I was successfully able to get the Sprite, SpriteManager, and Animation classes working correctly for the rest of the team to use. As I am writing the engine component for this, I tried to make these as abstract as possible so both I and team members can possibly refer back to the code in the future and use for other games. As the sprites/animations are a key component for seeing playable visible progress I worked hard to get it done by this sprint, and am happy that they are functional. There are still some things that need to be done such as fixing memory leaks, and customizing the SpriteManager class so we can more easily control loading/unloading of used/unused images during playing…. but thats efficiency stuff and can probably wait till the end of sprint 2 or 3, or even next quarter.

To go more in depth about sprites, what I’ve done for this sprint has been very similar for some previous projects I’ve done before (making the rendering system for kid natural). Marmalade is OpenGL based, thank god, as I’ve used OpenGL ES with my previous project to create the rendering system… actually Marmalade makes it a bit easier to use OpenGL, and claims to have one of the fastest rendering system possible on mobile devices today. I’m trying to stick more to using Marmalade’s Iw2D and IwGX rendering functions as they make the game more portable and accesible, as not all phones (when you get into androids) have an accelerated and dedicated graphics card. So far this has been a success and I’ve only used Marmalade rendering classes. In the process of my development of the rendering system I always run a few tests to allow my sprites and animations to have a number of controllable parameters including: scale, position, alpha, rotation, origin offseting, animation speed, forward/reverse animation, and looping animation. When I run these tests I hook the sprite system up to the input system and run the game, changing each paramater according to the clicked x,y value. Here are some screenshots from tests in case you wanted a visual.

 
Here are some images of me testing alpha, rotation, scale, position. I used some filler gfx for now, the question mark is utilizing the sprite clsas, while the number box is utilizing the animation class… yeah yeah the pictures are grey and boring, but its a start.

At the end of the sprint during the night code-a-thon Zak and I started working on the camera and rendermanager. We mostly got rendermanager done and camera setup however got too tired to make the camera actually work. I feel like it shouldnt take too long getting camera to work, however we will have to use a cheat method for now, instead of what I have planned using the OpenGL matrix method which is super efficient. For the future sprint coming up I’m super eager to have that work, and then start working on menu system stuff and possibly even metricsmanager stuff to get the game playtest ready. I like working on engine components, and hopefully by the end of this sprint and release will have an good engine for the game to run on that is easy to use.

-Chris aka “DracoTheJuggler” as I’m known as a juggler (and trying to get know as an indie game designer)


24

The following takes place between 9am-7am on the final day of Sprint 1. I’m UC Santa Cruz Programmer Sam Jenkins, and this is the longest day of my life.

Okay, I may be exaggerating a little, my day wasn’t quite as hectic as typical Jack Bauer day, but I felt a connection between Microventure’s 24-hour codeathon we experienced today and the long running Fox TV show, 24.

As I just mentioned above, we experienced quite a long day today. We found ourselves a little behind schedule for Sprint 1 and ended up having to cram the last of the code in one day. We started around 7 or 8 because many of us had to finish up the PacMan project in our Game AI class. While everyone was finishing up AI, Zak, James and I went to Costco to stock up on food for the night. The ride home from Costco might have been the toughest part of the night. We took Zak’s truck that could fit three, the ride there was bearable, but the ride back was another story. Trying to fit 4 pizzas, 3 churros, three humans, two drinks and a bin of cinnamon rolls in the front of a pickup truck was certainly not easy. I had “bitch seat” on the way back and I was straddling both halves of the car trying not to let my left foot slip and hit the gas petal, we didn’t want another car accident during one of these all-nighters (Sorry, Clement). Anyway, we got back safe and sound, the trip was worth it because the pizza and cinnamon rolls were delicious and the RockStar energy drink allowed me to stay awake all night. Shockingly, the combination of only pizza and caffeine in your stomach doesn’t sit well.

My goal for the night was to finish up the Gameplay tasks(there were 3 left). We realized that the tasks we created this sprint were much harder because we didn’t have our UML at the time outlining all the functions and classes we would need for the MVP. The second sprint should be much easier to plan. Anyway, Dan, Gerrit, Clement and I all worked on finishing up the Entity class, basic Entity movement and item spawning and interaction. We ended up finishing it all up at 4 or 5am, did a quick wrapup scrum and then I waited an hour or so for the first bus to show up, while some members said “screw it” and crashed on the couches.

I ended up getting home and falling asleep for about 2 and a half hours before I had to get up and go back on campus for the scrum review. The review was successful and we brought up many issues from the previous scrum and suggestions for the next scrum, that will be very helpful.

I am proud of my team for bearing down and grinding through the final parts of the sprint until we got it to work. Overall, it was a successful sprint and very cool experience. The next sprint starts in a few days and lasts another 3 weeks. Until then, I’m signing out and going to sleep.

-Sam “Barely Functional” Jenkins


Playable Visible Progress

Hey it’s Fletcher here giving an update on the overall project at the end of our first sprint.  We had some trouble this sprint matching up the work we had to do with the tasks we assigned to ourselves at the start of the sprint, due to a couple reasons including assigning programming tasks before the UML for our project was finished.  Because of this confusion, it often felt like a lot of our work wasn’t really getting us anywhere because there wasn’t anything visual that we could look at or play and feel like we were progressing toward a finished game.  However, during our end-of-sprint crunch last night, we were able to put a lot of work into combining all the things we’d worked on and actually start drawing the scenes and reacting to player input, which has resulted in a very confidence-reinforcing build of the project.  We are now able to move the player character around by setting its destination through touch input, and interact with a procedurally generated level! Once the camera is done much of the core gameplay setup will be complete.

ImageA zoomed-out view of a generated map containing the player, chests, and enemies.

Image

Setting the player’s target to a chest.

Image

Moving the player to the chest.

Now we just need to replace my crappy programmer art with some of the content our artists are working on, and we’ll have something pretty impressive to look at!  I’m looking forward to next sprint, and it looks like we should have a pretty nice setup and fun game by the end of it!


Sprint 1 Update

Yea…Our product owner told us to make a post at the end of every sprint or else something bad will happen. Since I love the game and the team so much, I’ll set aside my pride and write this post.

To all my stalkers out there I got some good news and bad news. Unfortunately, we did not get all of the stuff we had in visioned for the first sprint done. I believe we were a little over our heads with the number of tasks we started with. We plan to finish most of the game this sprint, but spent a third of the time working on the UML. We also realized that there were other task needed to get done before we started the new ones and the Pacman assignment for our game AI class didn’t help that much. However, thanks to team effort and Costco MegaVentures, we got a lot of the task done near the end of our sprint. I created and helped developed the header and c++ files for the game play part of our game and worked with Fletcher to actually get parts of the level to show on the phone. Plus, we also have a lot of experience and ideas for our next sprint. We need to revise our release plan, but MicroVentures will be out by spring as planned. Can’t wait to implement path finding and enemy AI into our game.

Here’s for good effort and a better sprint,

Gerrit “Stuby” Eggink


The idea of MicroVentures – Part 1

As the Product Owner and initial creator of the idea for MicroVentures, I am often asked questions like “How did you come up with MicroVentures?”, “Why are you making a casual game? I thought you hated casual games.”, “Why a phone game?”, “You like games like Braid and Limbo, why aren’t you making a pretentious indie game?”, “Seriously, why are you making a video game for a fucking telephone?” Okay, maybe not so much that last question, but some of the above assertions are true: I really don’t like casual gaming, and my ultimate dream in life is to make thought-provoking games independently. So, as one of my roommates would say, “Why MicroVentures even?”

I’ll start off by talking about the current trend in the game industry. It doesn’t take any statistic gathering to realize that casual gaming is on the ride. Importantly though, I do disagree with the assumptions that console and PC gaming are falling, but rather that the gaming market is stretching out to new audiences. As a game designer, I can’t ignore the growing trend in casual gaming.

No, I do not hate the idea of casual gaming. I think integrating games into even the smallest gaps of our schedule is something positive. What I don’t believe is this notion that casual gaming will eradicate the console/PC gaming market altogether. The idea of  of the usual Friday night LAN party with a group of friends being replaced with an all-night Angry Birds party just makes me cringe, and I can never see that happening. Ever. Why? Because that’s not what casual games are supposed to be, and what they are not is a replacement for highly-immersive, 3D experiences on consoles or PCs.

Casual games are meant for one thing: A short distraction. They serve as a way for someone to break away and have a short break from a normally dull, repetitive existence. That’s why people play Angry Birds and Farmville, it gives people a fresh set of goals and tasks that can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.

And that is essentially our goal with MicroVentures: giving someone a break from their life to accomplish other goals. I went with the genre of Roguelikes mainly due to the major influence from Binding of Isaac, but at the same time it seemed like a perfect solution to my problem: Creating an awesome game experience by having a DIFFERENT experience every time! By having each roguelike adventure to be aimed to play for 2-4 minutes, we successfully create a short, concise adventure game.

Though something’s missing. The problem with having these procedural adventures, there’s no way of having character development, story, or anything like that. OR IS THERE?

To be continued…

 


Week 3: Overdrive

So WordPress kind of sucks. It just doesn’t have the convenience and options available like Facebook. Basically, I have three choices. A slideshow that switches slides too quickly to read caption and has no order customization, a gallery of thumbnail images (you can click on them to open a different slideshow), or the way I’ve done it before that happens to take too damn long to upload images onto the post. Below is the first two options as an example. I’m still deciding which one is better. So let me know people.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A pretty eventful third week for Microventures production.

Once again we started the week with Jamestown which got moved to Monday so now it’s Jamestown Monday. And then there’s also Baballe Wednesday where we get some cuban sandwiches downstairs.

This week it was time for the team to present to Jim the UML we had created. Luckily for us by the end of it we were awarded the most unique UML thanks to our 3 prong attack on the code: Story, Level, Game.

Mid week was our long awaited Microventure’s White Elephant. Everyone brought in their 10 dollar gift. I ended up getting some liquor to make Martinis. Yay!

The highlight of the week was the Thursday/Friday Code-A-Thon. We loaded up on energy drinks and food to last us through the night. Definitely interesting to see how sleep deprevation affected everyone. Overall, no one made it through the night and no one seemed to be effective in the wee hours. I’m already looking forward to our next coding session, because our already humurous team seems to get only funnier the further along we are in the night.

So I promised playable content by the end of the week, but we only accomplished integration. Engine, game, and level gen got linked up successfully. We decided to put story gen on the backlog since we seemed to be the only one totaling 200+ hours on Sprint 1. Seemed like every other group didn’t even plan it to 100 hours. Coding night was a big accomplishment for the team, but it didn’t quite show on the SCRUM board. Future breakdown of our tasks will really help out.

Next week is our last week for the sprint. We’re definitely expecting some playable content so stay tuned!

 


Week 2: Technical Difficulties

Jamestown Sunday!

We beat Jamestown level 1 on Judgement! Elapsed time: 2.5hrs. First SCRUM task to be completed. Fletcher kicks over a chair in rejoice, Dan tweets a photo for proof, and Mark walks away to call his mom and tell her the good news.

All possible scenarios considered for interaction and movement.

Our UML in a nutshell and highly abstracted

Movie night to relieve the stress or more like Paprika mindf**&

MuVentures?

Microventures supporting the blackout against SOPA

Mark's Bastion

Microventures class diagram

Artists' first SCRUM meeting

The naked orange man...

...and his butt

Lead Engineer Fletcher leading us to UML victory

End of the week SCRUM meeting

Opened up the week with some class diagrams, but it quickly turned into Jamestown Sunday. What was suppose to be a short gaming session before we parted ways turned into a three hour ordeal. But by the end of it we beat the level and that’s one more task off the SCRUM board for Microventures!

UML was a real pain, especially for me. I’m not very good at planning and organizing something as large as a game without actually coding anything. I think the problem is it feels like the pass couple of months have been a bunch of design docs, technical design docs, and more and more planning. For me I’m just waiting to get some playable/visual content so I have something to excite over. At least I know the boring work is done and programming is on the table.

Team is jelling really well. Most of us watched Paprika which was like a Japanese Inception. We started Jamestown Monday where we beat a level of Jamestown on judgement. Foods is plentiful. I think we stocked up on Costco at the beginning of the week and finished all the food by the end of the week… At least we’re happy and healthy programmers.

Going to be working with the gameplay team to set up the game engine and hopefully have a movable sprite by the end of next week. Look forward to Microventures pumping out some serious content by the end of next week!

– Clement

 


Week 1: Hit that ground running!

A farmer by the name of James professed “So yeah, we’re gonna be hitting the ground running.”

And that we did.

Micro effort!

Release Planning

Then it was "Poker Time"

Intensity so thick and slice-able.

Fletcher lost his mind

And yet another fell victim

3AM...okay so I'm kidding but we had been meeting for a good hour now

Mark wanted to relieve himself of his misery as he played with the wall socket

Hopelessness

Passionate discussion. "I'm the product owner so...."

But then finally it happened. Could this be the solution they pondered...

The result of our hard work. Sprint planning success!

Pizza solved a lot of problems in the end

Alright so a little rough around the edges for my first blog. Outside of a handful of Myspace blogs this really is my first blog so I promise it’ll get better as we get deeper into the quarter. Basically most of us came back Tuesday and our Release Plan was due Wednesday and then our Sprint Plan Thursday so quite a busy first week. But everyone showed up and everyone put in the effort to get the job done. At times too much effort. At times too little effort. And at times we discussed racism. And other times ate pizza. I think it was the the excitement of coming back to school and working on this project we had planned last quarter, but I hope we stay focused and spend less time arguing over the little things that barely mattered.

Overall, an exciting start for Microventures. Next week we have UML due and a whole of Marmalade to work with.

– Clement “Continuing the Micro Trend” Tran