The Game Developer's Journal: July 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Peek At Music

Two weeks ago, we looked at marketing in the videogame industry. Today, let's dive into the subject of music. By the way (in case you didn't know) I posted nothing last week because I was out of town.

Now, I'm not actually working on the musical part of "The Amoeba of Light" right now. I'm currently replying to messages for potential job recruits. You see, I need some animators to draw up the cut-scenes. Maybe we can explore that in a different post.

What is the most memorable game music? There will be a million different answers of course! For me, it's got to be the Pikmin theme. I haven't thought of this question before though, so its not like I have an answer ready. It could just as easily be one of the songs from We Love Katamari. If you want to play a game that's very weird and just as fun, try that one.

For my favorite musical score--that award goes to Super Mario Galaxy. The game boasts orchestral pieces that work marvelously with the outer space theme. It's an explosion of awesome harmony.

This game rocks. The musical score is on par with the graphics.
I'm looking for that live-orchestra-type feel for my project. The reason is because of the game's adventure theme. You see, Amoenu and Wisenchyme will be traversing though many, many different areas. From sea to land, to mud, to snow, to forest, to coral reef, to marsh, to tundra, to barren plain--they will see it all (except space). The game is meant to give the experience of "playing a movie," which also points to its dramatic score. I'm leaning toward film music.

Partners in Chime 

I've already talked with David Levy from Studio Malibu about recording music and attaining licenses. David is apart of the Levy Entertainment group, which--look at there--includes his last name! (Hey I wonder if he had any part in founding the company...).

David was able to inform me on recording possibilities and even offered to host the music recording in his studio. If I choose to use his services, he can get in contact with record labels to get permission to use their works. Through him, or another company like his, I can attain a license to use "The Light In Me" and "7x70." Once I get the needed funds in hand, I plan to call him back and talk business.

Right now I'm in a College CLEP program that leads me through the process of getting a degree by gaining credits. My program coach, Peter Marshall, has offered to employ his musical talent to compose the music for my game. For free! How kind. The current plan is for him to write the music, and for a studio to record it. We'll see what happens.

Where We Are Going

Places. We're going places, that's where. The music production, the animation, and the programming are on halt until a few things happen. Here is what I need:

1) Money. To be more specific, I need moolah somewhere in the 100K range.

2) I have to solve the issue of programming Amoenu's body. Remember that?

3) I've got to make a final decision on who to hire.

The money is on it's way. Somehow it will come, I believe that. Yesterday I decided to host a contest (properly called a "Grand Challenge") to see who can create a program that best meets my requirements for Amoenu's body. That hasn't started yet, but when it does, I'll keep you posted. As far as who to hire, that'll be solved in no time; I just have to see some samples and make decisions.

Music arouses the soul. It has the ability to dig up thoughts and emotions that lie within your heart. In my game, the music helps to tell the story and nurtures the emotion that I want to encompass every player.

To wrap things up, watch this lyric music video for "The Light in Me." This is the trademark song that gamers will relate to "The Amoeba of Light" for years to come. Every time I hear the song, I play a montage through my head and get re-excited about the game. :D

Super Mario Galaxy image by darkness on 

Lyrics music video by JakeSD19 on YouTube. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Peek At Marketing


So I've already started the ad campaign for "The Amoeba of Light," and we're getting ALOT of attention!

No, I'm just kidding. That looks pretty good doesn't it?

It's important that my game stands out. There are so many other videogames on the Apple Appstore market. There are too many choices, really. No one is ever going to play every game on there. To stand out, you have to step out. Your game can't stand in a line with the other million apps in the store. You have to present yourself right!

The old saying that states, "you can't judge a book by its cover," may be a good moral idea, but most people don't follow it. Of course, I'm referring to books, people, restaurants...pretty much any product or service.

Therefore, a very, very important detail I need to remember when I present my game to the world is how it looks. It must look different, it must look enjoyable. It must look like it will meet the customer's desires.

Let's try something.

Which of these two games looks like a better one?                

Did you pick Zelda?  If you did, I agree with you. Did you pick Dispicable Me 2? I disagree.

If you haven't played either of these games, then you judged them by their presentation.

Let's try one more.                      

If I had never played any of these games (I've played two...I won't tell you which ones. :D ), I would have almost instinctively chosen Halo over Loony Tunes and Wind Waker over Despicable Me. For one, Despicable Me is a game turned movie, which has a bad rap in the gaming community. Secondly, do you see that little red and white logo in the bottom right corner of the Zelda box? That says Nintendo. And for a similar reason, the Halo series has received so much attention, I can just assume it beats Looney Tunes by a longshot.

The fact that the Halo series has been praised so much that it affects my view of it is an indicator that we don't judge by presentation alone. But I don't have a franchise to draw my fame from. So I have to use other methods. As such:

Outstanding Features

All good games have something unique about them. I've already discussed some of these features, so let me share a few new ones:

Wisenchyme as a smart AI. Wisencyme is the "partner in crime" in the story. I made a special note to myself to make him extra smart. Not only does he help you, he has his own opinion. So he may decide not to obey your every command!

Dynamic Backgrounds. As you traverse wide valleys and tall mountains, you'll enjoy the backdrop of animated panoramas. This will be one of those elements that make game critics remark "gorgeous" and "breathtaking." The backgrounds are meant to add not only super realism, but a sense of depth.

Intragameplay Conversation. Do you know how you may speak with a computer player using menus? Think of an RPG game for example. In the AOL, you can converse as you play and move around. People don't really stand in place when they talk. Also, all of the conversations are physically audible (with subtitles).

Celebrity Appeal

Yes, celebrities. I can use this to my advantage. There are two songs featured in the game, "The Light in Me" by Brandon Heath, and "7x70" by Chris August. Both artists tout high popularity in the Christian music sector, which will be a big marketing point. Even many non-Christian music enthusiasts will be attracted. It is my plan to make advertising arrangements with Chris' and Brandon's agents.

And also, there's voice acting remember. Who will get those parts? 

That's all for now. Next week I will be on a trip and so won't post anything on Thursday. Have a spectacular two weeks, gamers!

Image Credits:
Dispicable Me:
Looney Tunes: 
Legend of Zelda: 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Looking Behind, Looking Ahead

Okay, I may as well start. I was just sitting here for some moments pondering my life concerns and my game's current situation. I thought, "Just start the post. You don't have to find the perfect topic before you begin." So now I've begun. Thirty words and counting (that's just a guess).

Ah, yes. Game development. Let the word and all its connotations sink into your consciousness. For you, perhaps the word means nothing. If you've actually given up massive amounts of time to the practice, then, have more than your share of thoughts.  

"The Amoeba of Light" is an ambitious project. I know that. I knew that. And as time passed and days skipped by, I let my imagination expand the idea with new innovations and designs and narrative and all that good stuff. So the project became huge--naturally unscalable for one indie developer. I decided I should define exactly what I want in this game.  Turned out I had to do more trimming later. And more trimming.

I want to make an extraordinary game, and I'm sure every passionate game maker does. I want to blaze new trails of design, and explore frontiers of unseen ingenuity. This is a world-changing deal for me! I'm after the funnest, most amazing, most meaningful experiences. "What's the purpose of videogames? Why does it really matter?" I ask those questions too.

I study video games like an academic subject, and dig through incessant logic as I interrogate myself for answers: how do I make games better? How can video games step out into realms of significance that no one thought possible? What is the key component that makes games fun? How can video games benefit the player? What makes such and such game so engaging? 

And then somewhere in my searching, I step back, take a glance at video games as a whole, and wonder what the point is anyway. This has happened more than once. But it's only a very short time before I reengage myself in the process once again.

The reason this happens is at least due in part to how I see games. Whenever I come to the conclusion that a game is just a virtual diversion confined to a 17" screen, all the searching becomes nearly meaningless. Everything is within the parameters of how to make this digital medium funner. If it only comes down to a science of how to make the player enjoy themselves, how disappointing.

And that's another thing. Somewhere in the river of techniques, theories, and knowledge, I get lost. I realize how much there is that I supposedly don't know, because I have to learn all the "rules" before I can make a great game. I'm not fond of learning how to meet someone else's standards.

Are games just a teasing enjoyment? I mean, once you believe its a science, it comes down to trying to get the player to feel good. How's that done? By  straightening out the roads, raising the valleys, and lowering the mountains. We're creating the most pleasing place for the player by conditioning the experience to be enjoyable. When you look at it that way, it's no longer, "Hey I beat this boss! I really did something great!" No actually, we designed the game so that you could master it. No more can you have childlike delight in your triumphs and clever actions, because we, the developers, actually structured the game to make you feel good about yourself.

How can we therefore consider this to be true happiness? Making a good game is all about paving a path for the player to lead them to a feel-good experience. That's it! And when the game comes off, what does it mean? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

But maybe I should repose the question to myself: is making a good game really all about the science of conditioning for happiness?

When I make games, I want to change people. I want to encourage them, enrich their lives, and lead them to health. And I don't believe it's impossible to do this. With God all things are possible.

When I look up into the stars on a cool, clear night, I get a sense of something marvelous. There's something greater. Often times, I'm inspired with new ideas from sights like these. Inside a game, the world presents a similar magnificence. Games are a work of art and are becoming more immerssive.  Are people actually enjoying video games, or are they just experiencing a rush of emotions when they blow up an enemy vessel? Are they genuinely happy or just acting under compulsion when they try to aim for the highest score? I don't simply want people to like games.

I want people to enjoy games, while and after they play.

You shouldn't look back on an experience and mourn over all the time you wasted. Just like a good novel, you should be able to play a game, learn from it, enjoy it, and benefit from it afterward.

Okay I kind of strayed from my original subject for this post. I was going to say how the development process for "The Amoeba of Light" was hitting a dull moment. Really, I was glad to spend time writing this post today in place of working on the game.

It doesn't have to be as hard as I'm making it. In the pursuit of perfection (or something close to it) I'm afraid of making mistakes. Yet I thank God that I have improved. At the times when I look ahead to see all that needs to be done, I feel incompetent and am tempted to stop. Sometimes I just want to take a break. Unfortunately, the game's schedule doesn't really make room for breaks, but I may need to make something happen...

Somehow it'll get done, I most only press on. Whatever happens, I'm on the road to greatness. I know that for sure. It's only a matter of time before I get there. 

Sorry, no pictures. :(

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Adventure Continues: The Foil's Commencement

"There is no way out of this one," remarked an onlooker. The other laughed. It was plainly obvious that Slub had already won. Now the opponent had the honors of taking his last move and committing suicide. He was still pondering a clever rebuttal, but all in futility. 

Suddenly, in a flash, the left-for-dead loser snatched a game piece and firmly tapped it down. Just like that. "I did not see that coming," marveled one of the bystanders. All else was silent. The audience turned their gaze to Slub as he narrowed his eyes to focus. Then all of a sudden, Slub counter attacked his rival's move with brilliance. 

"Blobs win." He said.

"Nice one!" added one of the watching blobs, "that was one of the most..." his voice trailed off as he and the others turned to see the opponent furiously moving game pieces left and right. One after the other, kings and queens and soldiers and generals and noblemen and knights flew off the gameboard in every direction until...

"Gobs win." Somehow, a sitting duck as he was, the opponent destroyed Slub's entire army in a single turn.

"Man, did he set you up!" Remarked a spectator. 

"Ah, brilliant." murmured Slub sarcastically. "Well I must shake your hand, Johannes."

"Good game, indeed." replied Johannes, smiling slyly.

Just then Wisenchyme strolled up behind the wooden chair that Slub was sitting in. The setting was outside, as Slub and his friends enjoy playing Blobs vs. Gobs near the city square every Thursday. Usually Slub dominated, but tomorrow his ego would be a bit sore.

"What game is this?" Asked Wisenchyme.

"Oh, hey Wise. It's Blobs vs. Gobs."

"Oh right. Silly me...I couldn't tell because there aren't any pieces on the board. But now I see."

Slub rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes..."

After a few common exchanges, Wisenchyme informed Slub that he need to scoot. He had to catch Boegull before he went to his day job. "What are you and Boegull doing, if you don't mind me asking?" Asked Slub.

"We're not doing anything...I'm just going to see if he's alright. Boegull hasn't been himself recently." replied Wisenchyme.

"Don't you think he's just worried about Amoenu...I mean...I would be..."
"I know Boegull. Something else is wrong," said Wisenchyme. 

"Can I come with you?"

Caught off guard, Wisenchyme slowly replied, "Uhhh....sure. I suppose." 

After Slub said farewell to his boardgame pals, he followed Wisenchyme to Boegull's house. The house, a small, humble abode formed out of a mixture of clay and mud, sat secluded behind a veil of trees. It wasn't far from the center of town, but the fact that it was hidden away gave it an air of serenity.

It was quiet. Really quiet. Was anyone here? They didn't even hear breathing. Wisenchyme knocked on the door, but it creaked open when he did so. Apparently it wasn't latched. "Come in Wisenchyme," said Boegull from the inside of the home. The two guests were surprised, but went into the house. Wisenchyme had been here a thousand times and entered boldly as a friend who felt fully comfortable. This was Slub's first time, but you couldn't tell. It was just his personality.

"Hello Wisenchyme. And..." Boegull craned his head to see behind the opening door. "Sllluuuub," he drew out the word. Then he smiled subtly. 

"Hey, you remembered my name," remarked Slub, quite surprised actually. 

"It's a fairly easy name to remember." 

As if he was oblivious to the conversation, Wisenchyme spit out, "Why was the door unlatched?"

There was a moment's pause. "I just forget to latch it sometimes. You know me." He said it without a hint of fear or concern or sadness. Boegull seemed to be just fine.

Wisenchyme continued. "Well the reason I came was to see if anything was bothering you." Boegull blinked and gave a quick nod. 

"Why are you here?" Boegull asked Slub.


"Oh. Well," said Boegull, "Phesgul's gone, so..." He plopped down from his short wooden reading chair and headed toward his bookshelf. 

"What? Did something happen?" replied Wisenchyme.

"Nothing surprising, or at least it shouldn't be. He wants to find the treasure before Amoenu does." Boegull slipped his book back into its place on the shelf.

"Wait--we all get a share of the treasure, don't we?" gasped Slub.

"Well right..."

"Okay good."

"...which is why this isn't making sense right now. And when Phesgul comes back," Wisenchyme's stern gaze turned toward the floor, "it's not like we'll be ignorant of his actions or anything. He can't expect to come back here like nothing happened."

"For as long as I've known Phesgul, he's tried to do something great. This is pretty stupid if you ask me but I know Phesgul. He won't let anything stop him from getting to that treasure first."


"So he will not let even Amoenu stand in his way." There was a silence.

Slub whispered, "He seemed like a pretty decent blob."

"I'm going." It came out of nowhere from Wisenchyme's mouth.

"We don't need three of us travelling in an unknown wilderness." replied Boegull.

But Slub interrupted. "If you hurry, you can catch Amoenu before he gets too far."

"That's true, and I should leave as soon as possible."

Boegull was willing to offer Wisenchyme the rest of the food in his cold storage for the trip. The rations would be berries, cheeses, a few common roots, and assorted vegetables. After Boegull wrapped it all up, he tied it to a pole for Wisenchyme to carry over his back. It wasn't much, but it would have to last. The three figured that, because Amoenu would be traveling slow in order to pace his journey, Wisenchyme could catch up if he left immediately.

Slub and Boegull sent him off. After Wisenchyme was out of sight, Slub reassured Boegull and left. Boegull stood there for a time. He stepped back inside. His mind was rapidly swapping out thoughts. Looking up at the wall in front of him, he saw an old framed photograph of himself and Phesgul. 

No. He couldn't restrain it any longer. He dashed the picture to bits on the ground, and as the broken pieces hit the floor from their short flight, Boegull regretted his action. His heart was still just as cracked as before.


The beautiful hand crafted specimens that you see are my own; they're storyboard drawings for the cut-scenes that will be in the game. God has blessed me with drawing talent and a storytelling talent. He's awesome!

The "foil" is the tag-along character in a story who has attributes that contrast those of the main character. The one who fills the "foil" role is Wisenchyme, but mark my words, he will not be a sidekick! His role is too significant for that.

As the story unfolds, everything only gets more exciting. And surprising--it all gets more surprising, too.