Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Xbox LIVE Community Games comes to Singapore

Yes! Singaporean game developers can now make games and release them on the Xbox LIVE Community Games Channel.

A group of year 3 students and myself were invited to attend the press release this morning.

There's a S$50,000 grant up for grabs for each successful application to MDA under the MDA-Microsoft XNA Development Initiative.

Check out the official release at MDA's site.

Monday, 10 November 2008

DivX and Xvid on the 360!

The Xbox 360 can now play DivX and Xvid videos!

Kudos to the Xbox 360 dev team for making this happen, and further extending the accessibility and lifespan of the console.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Starting with Java Micro Edition

Sun Developer's Network has a good site for those starting to create 2D games on the Java Micro Edition platform.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

DreamBuildPlay Game Video

Our team of 5 GD students submitted their game recently for Microsoft's DreamBuildPlay 2008 challenge.

Here's the video trailer of the game.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Cancelled: Code-a-thon 2008

I've just received notice from the organisers of Code-a-thon 2008 that it's been cancelled.

A disappointment for sure, but looking at the calendar ahead, we've got Contrast from NUS and the DreamBuildPlay contest all ending this month, so keep your brains busy and ideas flowing!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Reminder: DreamBuildPlay 2008

Here's a reminder to sign up for the DreamBuildPlay Challenge 2008. Entries close 23 September 2008, but you may want to submit as early as 1 September!

There's prizes galore, plus a free 12 month Creator's Club Subscription once you sign up. What are you waiting for?

Code-a-thon 2008

The annual Code-a-thon is here again. This year's event will be held Mon-Tue, 15-16 September. Here's the email invite:

"Code-a-thon 2008 is open for registration!

Code-a-thon is the games festival for games developers worldwide. Talented student game programmers and artists will be challenged to code a game for 30-hours.

Code-a-thon 2008 will be held in Singapore on the 15th - 16th September 2008 and the results will be announced during Games Convention Asia 2008. Nanyang Polytechnic would like to invite your insitution to form and send student teams to participate.

For more information, please refer to the official competition website below: http://www.nyp.edu.sg/sgcc/codeathon/ "

Let me know if you'd like to sign up as a team - support can be given in the form of notebooks and other development equipment if needed.

NOTE: Closing date is 31 August - you'll need a letter from us to confirm you're enrolled in SP as a full-time student, so please let me know by today if you want to enter!

NUS Contrast 2008

The NUS Students' Communications and New Media Society is organising Contrast, a 24 hr Game Design Competition (12 - 13 September 2008).

Here's the email from Kian Boon, President, NUS Students' CNM Society, Deputer Projects Director, Contrast 2008. (What's a Deputer?)

"CONTRAST is a 24-hour game design competition jointly organized by the Communications and New Media (CNM) Society and Game Development Group (GDG) from the National University of Singapore.

Due to the overwhelming and well-received response from the participants in previous years, CONTRAST is running for its third year, with a brand new theme.

This will be a very good platform for aspiring game developers to get together and hone their skills. Besides, it will also be a very good opportunity for your students to build up their game portfolios which would give them an edge should they decide to seek a career in the gaming industry.We are currently sourcing for participants, sponsorships, judges, venues to make this event even more successful.

That said, we would like to be able to source for interested participants from your school.

For more information, you can visit http://contrast2008.blogspot.com/"

Deadline for registration is 4 September 2008.

Give me a ring, drop me an email or just post a comment here if you'd like to join or are looking for someone to team up with. We're sponsoring the registration fees for any team from DIT GD that would like to enter.

Friday, 1 August 2008

IGDA Meetup 13th August - Beer at Brewerkz

The IGDA regularly holds informal meetings for folks to unwind and to just generally exchange ideas. This month's meeting is on 13th August, Wednesday.

"Ey.. so it's been a while since we've done one of these...

Anyway, with all the stuff happening around the place, it's time for us all to get together and have a beer!... and catch up So we've got space for 60 people on WEDNESDAY 13th August at BREWERKZ at Clarke Quay 7.30pm(Yes, u can find them here: http://www.brewerkz.com/contact/index.htm)"

This meeting is open to "ALL GAME DEVELOPERS, not just for programmers.Artists, Designers, Producers, etc are VERY WELCOME. Students in their final year, and NS men are also welcome." So try to make your way there if possible.

Original posting on IGDA Singapore Forum.

Monday, 14 July 2008

My 360 died!

The good old (one year old to be exact) Xbox 360 at my home died on my birthday over the weekend. While munching on my cereal, I turned on the 360 and was greeted with a frozen screen after trying to log on to Xbox Live. Cycling the power gave me the dreaded Red Ring of Death.

It wasn't apparent at first, as I found out that the RROD was a misnomer. It's 3 red lights around the power switch, less one quadrant on the top right corner.

It's quite ironic, since I got it as a birthday gift exactly a year ago from my wife. The good news is that Microsoft has been very prompt on their responses and support. I got an email reply on evening of the 12th, apologising for the "inconvenience".

Since their hotlines were closed on weekends, I called in this morning and was greeted by a friendly operator, and after verifying that it was indeed "unfortunate" that my Xbox 360 has passed on due to hardware fault, they will be providing me with a "new Xbox 360 taken off the factory, in an unmarked box".

I'll be exchanging it a week later, so it's a belated birthday gift from MS to me! :)

SP Student Blogs List

If you look to the right of the page, you'll notice a new addition of bloglist that shows student blogs. If you've got a blog related to Game Development or generally your life as a GD student in SP, let me know, and I'll add it to the list.

Keep clean and polite in your blog though! Vulgarities, personal attacks and general bad behavior will not be tolerated. :)

CONTRAST Game Design and Development Workshops

The IGDA Singapore Student Chapter and the NUS Games Development Group are organising a series of workshops on computer game design and game development; we will be covering game art, creating games in Flash and Game Maker, and rapid game design.

The workshops are conducted by professionals in their field and are at an affordable rate ($4 per workshop) so I think it's an excellent chance for students to pick up the skills.

For more information, please refer to this url.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Singapore Game Dev on Gamasutra

With all the big boys coming to play in Singapore, it looks like we're making a big blip on the radar. Gamasutra's got an article analysing why we (Singapore) want a bite of that pie called Game Development.

In other news, the July 2008 issue of Edge contains a good whole section on Singapore in their new "Region Specific" section.

Happy 4th of July by the way! :)

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Bluesky Enterprise Day 2008 Company Visits

This came in the mail today:

"On behalf of ACE, I would like to invite your students to sign up for the special Company Visits organised on BlueSky Enterprise Day, 18th July 2008 , at Hwa Chong Institution, from 11am onwards.

The Action Community for Entrepreneurship, ACE, will be organising the BlueSky Festival 2008, from 17 to 18 July 08. As part of this event, we'll be organizing BlueSky Enterprise Day , a half-day of entrepreneurship related programmes for youths.

We will be organizing a visit to the following companies which includes:
- Alpha Synovate (Design and Development Engineering Company on Biofuels)
- Microsoft Innovation Centre (The Software Giant of today's world)
- Mikoishi (Game Development Studio and Publisher)
- Stikfas (Global Brand of Collectors' Figurines and Models)

The company visits are scheduled from 11:30am to about 1.45pm."

A visit to Microsoft and Mikoishi (one of the most successful Singapore game dev companies) sounds most interesting. Unfortunately that I've graduated many years ago.

Check out their site for more details on registration. Scroll to the bottom for the electronic flyer.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

XNA Robot Game

Now this is too cool to let by. The folks at Creator's Club have released a new mini-game for Premium members.

Robot Game is created by a South Korean game company, Zapetto. Download and try it out. Besides the fun factor, it boasts several cool technical examples you may want to check out. It also features a nice split-screen co-play mode. (Hint hint nudge nudge - cough, Assignment 2, cough).

Fancy the next mini-game coming from a team here in SP... now just imagine that... :)

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Why Mini-Games Don't Work

There has been a rising trend to include mini-games in commercial games, and to a certain extent, student projects have been trying to emulate the model of gameplay. In commercial games, mini-games work to various degrees of success, depending on execution and diversion from the main game. What does this mean exactly?

What works?

For a mini-game to "work", it should not detract from the enjoyment of the main game you are playing. An positive example of a mini-game is the chariot racing segment in the Suburban Babylon chapter of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones.

In the chariot racing segment, the player steers the Prince's chariot through the streets of Babylon. During the race, the Sands of Time abilities are still available to the Prince. This means it's a racing game where you get to reverse time to do minor corrections to your gameplay.

The Sands of Time is a major feature for the POP series in that it introduces a more forgiving gameplay that allows players to tweak and make corrections as they play, without the need for instant death scenarios which lead to frustrations and needless replay.

The chariot mini-game works for POPTTT in the following ways:
  1. Similar gameplay: Rules and skills players learned in main game still applies.
  2. No new rules: The player does not have to learn any new skills.
  3. Enjoyment: The transition of the gameplay is logical and fits well into the story of the game, driving the player forward and giving him motivation to play the level.

What doesn't?

A counter-example on the other hand would be the mini-games included in Spider-Man 3. The gameplay and handling of the player avatar (Spider-Man in this case), is quite well done and much improved from its hugely successful predecessor (Spider-Man 2), but the mini-games put a dampener on it all and really spoiled the game for most fans and new players.

While the entire game is littered with mini-games, let's take a look at one of them for argument's sake.

Throughout the game, you are tasked to defuse bombs that have been set as part of terrorist attacks (cue 1st cliche in modern game themes). These typically start off with you swinging/racing against time (tried-and-tested concept from SM2) to find the location of the bomb. Once there, you hit a context button to activate the mini-game.

The mini-game requires a series of accurate button hits and thumbstick twists on the controller. This is reminiscent of successful rhythm games/minigames such as DDR or Guitar Hero, but doesn't really work well here. To it's credit, the gameplay for the mini-game is tight but quite pointless. Why would Spider-Man have the neccessary skills in defusing bombs, and what do button presses and twists have to relate to something as sophisticated in real life such as explosives disarmament?

The mini-games in Spider-Man 3 do not work in the following aspects:

  1. New skills needed: All the swinging and acrobatic moves you've learned as Spidey previously are meaningless in the mini-games. All you need here are fast twitchy button mashes and twists. Our grade school cousin would do better in this than us.
  2. Detraction from gameplay: You're no longer the Amazing Spider-Man; you're the one-man-bomb-squad. Even Spider-Man admits this as a smart aside during the game.

Looking at the above, the success of mini-games in longer form games depend on their execution and design. On their own, a string of mini-games could be compiled into a game itself very nicely, but for a mini-game to succeed as a task in a game, it should not detract from the main gameplay, nor should it require the user to learn and apply a radically different set of skills.

In my next post, we'll take a look at how mini-games can be implemented correctly for Final Year Projects (if at all?).

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Dream Build Play 2008

Can't get enough of XNA Game Studio 2.0 in class? ;)

Microsoft's Dream Build Play challenge is on again. The emphasis for the competition is as usual, fun games.

Register to get a year's subscription for the XNA Creator's Club (worth US$99 or S$179).

If you're doing the Console Game Development module in DMIT, you might want to think about putting in the polish for those assignments and submitting them as an entry in the challenge.

Due date is in September 2008. Submissions may be made from 1 - 23 September.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Now! Open to Public!

spgd.blogspot.com is now open to everyone! This means you no longer have to login to read the latest posts and updates on game development.

You'll still need to login to post a comment though. You can use any email to register for a google account.

I'm using my school email for this account. This means for login, I'm typing my-name@sp-dot-edu-dot-sg. Try it!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Microsoft Game Developer's Day 2008

The Microsoft Game Developer's Day is here again. Looking at the schedule, it looks to include what's new in XNA 3.0 and a peek at the XNA Community Games.

Registration is only $30. Learn more here.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Sony PlayStation Kits for Education

Sony announced today that they'll be releasing educational development kits for their PSP and PlayStation 2 consoles.

This looks to be for the US and Western European institutes for the near future. Let's see if we can get someone to start organising Sony Game Developers day in Singapore soon. Keep your fingers crossed!

XNA anyone? ;)

Thanks to Darren Quek for the heads up.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Roles in Module Assignments

One question that comes up very often in group assignments is: Can we work in groups of 2 / 3 / 4?

Most of the assignments I write have mandatory requirements of 2 members and only 3 where the numbers in the class are odd.

If a group is well organised, the team can benefit from having 2 to 3 members for small Module Assignments.

For example, a team of 3 people for a programming assignment (Console Game Development / 3D Game Development / fill-in-your-module-name) may organise themselves as such:

1. Graphics / Engine Programmer - takes care of the nuts and bolts of the game engine such as camera, models, physics (collision), input handlers.

2. Gameplay Designer / Programmer - designs the gameplay mechanics and logic AND programs those. This is a small project so you'll save time and manpower by being the game designer and programmer at the same time. It also gives you a good idea of what's possible and what's not logically and pragmatically.

3. Modeller / Graphics Artist - this role is optional and nice to have (READ: Non-critical). A dangerous position to be in in a programming assignment, as your teammates can / should easily be able to locate simple public domain models or art without you. Programmer's art is always acceptable in a programming module assignment. If you do take up this role, strive for excellence and support the requirements of your team as far as possible.

On the other hand, a disorganised team can have overlap of roles which may not only create duplication of work, but also unneccesary dependencies. The worst case scenarios may have sleeper members who clock in simply for the credit at the end of the project.

Choose your members carefully and plan your work well at the beginning for a successful delivery.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Game Lagginess

Here's an interesting link regarding how to improve "lag" or dropped frames in games.


Saturday, 24 May 2008

XNA Role-Playing Game Starter Kit

Final Fantasy fans rejoice! Those interested in creating RPGs can reference the XNA Role-Playing Starter Kit released recently on Creator's Club.

This is a 2D RPG with a tile engine, developed by India based Dhruva Interactive.

To begin, try out the tutorial in adding your own quest to the game.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

XNA Radio Broadcasts

Scott Lim and I got interviewed by Michael Tan from Mediacorp regarding the Console Game Dev module and GD in general in Singapore.

Here are the links for the podcasts:

XNA Part 1

XNA Part 2

Friday, 25 April 2008

We're on the news!

The local press had a field day yesterday at our GDC (Game Development Centre), T2021A.

Here're some reports that's appeared so far...

The event yesterday was also covered by GameAxis.

Straits Times.com


You may like to click away after the first minute or so into the st.com video. :)

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Ubisoft opens in Singapore

Some of you may recall Ubisoft dropping by sometime late 2007, and some even contributed to the showreel we sent to them.

Congratulations! It looks like we all played a role, maybe small, to the better of the GD industry and future in Singapore.

Here's a link to the news release.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Game Programming Tests

Those of you who think they're up to the job for Software Engineer posts or the like may find that the recent article at Game Career Guide on Game Programming Tests might just be what you're looking for.