Blog

  • Portfolio update

    I've updated my portfolio on the site and added the previous Ludumdare entries that were still missing. You can find them here.

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  • Results Ludumdare 28

    On tuesday the Ludumdare Judging closed and the results got published. My results can be found here. My results are't great this time. But differently than the previous dares I tried out the Islandworks GameCreator which also bound me to use 2d art instead my trusty favorite 3d art. Added that I could't think up a good idea and got stuck most of the first day I think the results are okay for the game I created.

    The most important things I learned during the Dare are't the skills needed to create a game, but to market it. Over the course of the dare I tried to publish every hour a new entry in my Ludumdare Live blog and during the judging I actively participated in the discussion about the entries using mainly Twitter. Even without a winning entry I generated a lot of interest and plays on my game.

    I'm not sure when I'll be competing again. Atleast on December 2014, and if possible next April. I'll going to try and use the gamecreator again to show myself that I'm able to create a better game in 2d!

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  • Merry Christmas

    I've been experimenting with the GameCreator and have been busy creating a christmas story e-card. Play the digital christmas story. Enjoy!

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  • Finished Ludumdare 28

    Last weekend I competed in the Ludumdare 28 game creation competition. If you want to try out the game and read my ld48 event blog visit the Islandworks LD48 blog.

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  • Ludumdare 28

    Next weekend is the Ludumdare 28 game contest. A competition in which you on your own have to build a game from scratch in less than 48 hours. It will be the third year I'm going to compete. This time I've put this web log online to share my progress with you. I'll be sharing as much updates as possible on this blog. So keep tuned in or subscribe to the RSS feed!

    Visit my blog on Islandworks!

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  • Creating a course: Family names

    Those who are following my twitter account know that I have been working on a simple vocabulary course game for family names. In this blogpost I will tell you what I did to get to this course setup. The course is made in around five hours and that includes the graphics I custom made. I decided to make new ones rather than using the existing sets.

    Concept

    In the extent of the previous vocabulary courses I made there was one important category missing, the family names. The thing with family names is that they are related, the important part in it is showing the relations between them. That immediately pointed towards a tree, a simple family tree almost everyone in the western world will understand.

    I sketched a simple setup, starting with a few names and extending it to a larger tree. First showing the closest family and building it up like that. While I sketched that on paper I noticed that the part of the player his children got cramped up and I decided to keep them apart.

    Logic

    Once finished with my course sketch I started off building the smallest part of the course. And from there I could copy most logic, rename it a bit and extend it with more names or different names. I ended up with this setup:

    Step 1: The game logic

    Since the logic was done I was able to test with a fairly simple setup. After fixing most issues I was ready to add the graphics in the course.

    Graphics 

    Because it is a family tree it needed faces of the family members. I used Inkscape to draw vector based parts of the face and saved them in an InCourse contentbundle. That allowed me to change colour of the parts and resize where need without losing quality. To make it easily manageable over the existing “simple” box graphics I placed the faces in a separate layer below the boxes. The boxes received a transparent colour. The image below illustrates how I made up the faces in the InCourse editor:

    Step 1: The game logic

    By tweaking the assembled part I added some extra detail as shadow above their eyes to give a more female look. I made every head like this, changing colour, size and position to create different looking faces. That resulted in this: 

    Step 1: The game logic

    After adding all the faces I gave the background a tree image to increase the feeling of a family tree:

    Step 1: The game logic

    That’s how I made the game. Try the course in InCourse or visit my twitter account to see the tweets regarding the creation.

    But I would also like to hear from you what kind of game you would build? And did my blog help you to get an idea how you can create a game for yourself?

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  • Design an educational game

    Games, like books, films and art are cultural products which inspire the viewer. It’s clear that such product is contained in its own universe. Once you enter a story you enter the magical circle in which the world and subjects are placed. If the magical circle is used probably it will suck the viewer into the fictional world.

    Like stories, games have been around for as long as humankind can remember. Games come forth from the will to play and make it exciting by using some sort of rules. Games help children and adults to learn and progress as they age. Games are not related to humans alone. The animal kingdoms show some sort of primitive games between children.

    Designing a game that’s fun to play is one thing, creating a game that’s fun and teaches is another story. It might seem a complex task to combine fun and an educative element but if you follow the steps below it will be easier. Because remember: every game teaches you something, from strategies to teamwork. They require a bit different thought then you would exercise during your daily work.

    Step 1: Align your course goals - Setup

    It may seem obvious, but even when you prepare your course for the next day you set some goals you want to accomplish. The same applies to your game. Write down your goals, make them SMART (simple, measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound) and divide those in smaller ones. From there on select several goals. Be careful: the more goals you select the more complex the game will become.

    Step 2: Make it adaptive with complications and suspense – Concept

     A game isn’t a game if the actions you take don’t change the gameworld. Actions the player takes should impact the game and story somehow. A game isn’t much fun if the action you take result in a predefined story which doesn’t includes the action its result. A game like pacman wouldn’t be as fun if you it didn’t matter if you got eaten.

    This doesn’t only make it more fun and challenging it also encourages the player to start systemic thinking because there are multiple variable to take into account. Changing any of these variables should also give some feedback, informing the player what happens. If you walk forward and die every time it wouldn’t be fun. If the player knows it dies because he falls through the hole he has to figure out how to pass it.

    So start off with making your concept, describe the challenges the player should overcome.

    Step 3: Make the game simple – Game mechanics

    Does this conflict with step 2? Partially, the gamestory and challenges can be very complex but depending on how simple to understand the game itself is, is very important. The player who starts the game should be able to start immediately without the need to read manuals. The bar to start the actual game should be as low as possible. Build up your game’s challenges as the player progresses, you don’t start with a complex formula when your students never learnt about divisions yet.

    For example, if you start playing the game Age of Empires, a strategy game in the middle ages, you start with a few buildings to play with, the more you advance the more options you receive. In the end you have a range of buildings and units to command but not directly.

    Step 4: Rewarding

    Make sure your players still want to play, this should be done through rewarding. For actions the player takes which are correct he should receive some reward. Such reward can be a sound, badge or satisficing story progression. The best kind of rewards are those received and contained in that magical circle, the game world. Nothing feels better then saving a bus full of children and getting their compliments rather than receiving a badge which says: “You saved the bus with children”. But this also relies on the type of task they performed.

    Step 5: Find a tool and build your game

    The next step after you wrote your game concept is to find the appropriate tool. There are many types of tools which allow you to create a game but as this game will be used in the classroom you should find some which allows you to easily edit, change and review your students as they progress. You need a tool capable to modify your game on the fly when you notice your students or the material doesn’t do their job as expected. A good tool for this could be InCourse. Another great tool for creating games and which is more powerful is Gamemaker but this tool lacks features for tracking students.

    Step 6: Distributing it in the class

    After you created your game you should start off with a few students, let them play, change the game where there are problems and when everything seems right, share it with the class. Distributing depends on the tool you used. If it’s a webbased game it’s easy to share a link so they can play on their devices in the classroom or at home.

    Step 7: Review, review and review

    Keep tracking your students, find problems, discuss the game with the students and keep the theory in the game up-to-date and repeat that process over and over again. If you keep the game up to date is also nicer to play.

    Besides, you can always keep extending the game, adding small extensions, other paths. It’s not a shame to start small and expand the game later on. It’s very useful method and allows you to create and test game concepts quickly.

    Good luck,

    What do you think? Let me know! Twitter @Strong99 

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  • Innovation or reinvention?

    In the current age we try to digitize everything, including education. We even try to move the class into the internet, with teachers from all around the world educating through video en tutorials. But I ask myself the question, don’t we use the digital era in the complete wrong way as we do not really innovate our practices. Compare it with magazines, they moved from paper to websites but their format is mostly the same, yet we speak of innovation.

    So what kind of “innovations” do we witness currently? Probably the open education movement. Open education stands for communities who share and use the shared resources for learning. This happens through video databases like the Khan Academy, presentation databases like Prezi or game databases like InCourse. But isn’t this exactly what we have been using the past decades? If not for hundreds of years?

    The ancient Greek started using fora and schools to “discuss and share” knowledge. The creation of those fora was an innovation, the current day use of digital forums is in my opinion not more then moving it to a different channel of communication. The way a child learns has always been playing and playing games with others, see how animals do that. Nothing changed in that sense.

    So, you probably ask yourself what I see as innovative. Innovative is more than just new, I expect it to be a new way or method rather than an “improved” method. The tools we use can be innovative but what we do with them mostly isn’t.

    An upcoming method of teaching named “flipped classroom” could be innovative, it overhauls the way teachers and tutors work. They let the pupil learn themselves and the teacher becomes more like a coach, but, the pupil will find teachers outside the classroom and in a sense the schoolteacher becomes obsolete because the pupil will find other teachers. These teachers will be on the internet or close by. They can be educated teachers or self-educated masters of those subject they help others. Exactly like the Greek did, but on the internet fora.

    So I wonder, how much has changed since the ancient times. And how much did we reinvent?

    What do you think? Let me know! Twitter @Strong99

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  • Ludumdare 25: You're the villai

    So I participated in the latest ludum dare competition, a competition to create a game in 48 hours from scratch. The theme this time was: You're the villain.

    The deathray Control rooom

    My concept was created in half an hour in which I was reminded about all those bad guys always trying to destroy the Earth but always lose the game and end up in jail or something. Not this time, this time you're the villain and a game without winning is not fun. So, this time you, the villain, will blow up the Earth starting with the two cities on your TODO list.

    Obviously the heroes try to interrupt your evil plans but you found a way to lock them in the dockingbay where they try to cut the door. This gives you the time to go destroying the Earth. Sadly your station is not fit for such powerful ray and it starts to collapse.

    Command your drones to repair the station as you try to blast Earth back to the medieval.

    The deathray

    Download windows version

    Download source version

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  • Ludum Dare contest 25

    This weekend I'm going to participate in the 25th Ludum Dare competition. In a few hours the game theme will be chosen and we'll have 48 hours to build a game on the given theme. The game should contain code and resources we created in the 48 hours including sounds, audio, image and sprites.

    This will be my second Ludum Dare.

    Depending on what the theme and my idea will be: c++ or html5

    Language: C++ or Html5 with Jquery
    OS of choice: Windows 8
    Graphics Library of choice: Irrlicht or Html5
    Audio library of choice: Irrklang or Html5
    3D Graphics: 3dsMax
    2D Graphics: Photoshop/Illustrator
    Audio: Audicity & Anvil.

    I’ll try and post a “How did I do it” on the end as I did last time.

    Last years entry (LD22): World Alone.
    WorldAlone The room

    My Ludum Dare profile and the entries

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  • Introduction to applied gaming

    Gaming is one of those directions which is hot everywhere, not only for the entertainment industry but also for education and businesses. A new market is slowly expanding as pioneers explore the boundaries. This area is related to gaming on websites and shops. These games are used to attract and to keep visitors on the website. And everyone knows, the longer a visitor is visiting your shop, the higher the chance they actually buy something. So how does that work?

    Well in theory when they visit your site you distract them with something fun to do which in return hints at your products or services. While they’re playing they will notice your products, interact and maybe even buy them. In practice these sort of games feel a bit “standalone” not really related with the business. On the other hand the ones that are integrated mostly aren’t more then a “reward” collecting game where the user collects rewards for things they buy or do on the website. These last type of games are rather popular but aren’t attractive if you don’t need to buy anything there. Beside user may get bored from collection the tenth reward or badge. Some even feel mislead as the rewards don’t seem fitting for the service.

    Notable businesses offering such services for badges on webshop are Badgeville, Bigdoor and IActionable. But what I think is that website should let the user interact with it on a playful way, something they would return for only because it was fun. If your user has nothing to do on your website they won’t come. You can do this by hosting events, social media campaigns or even a simple but addictive game where users collect points.

    When the user opens your site he should be able to start and play the game as he browses your site. Don’t force him, not everyone has the time or the wish to play any games, but you could gently attract him towards that game.

    So my first suggestion in integrating games into your website marketing is: merge it with your site somewhere noticeable but not “overly distracting”. Things you could consider are character running around on your panels in search for his treasure, which is hidden somewhere. You could guide him around in search, like a point and click adventure. Mind you though, first rule: it should be fun to do. If not, remove it from the site.

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  • A girl hanging in a chair

    More can be found in the art gallery.

    A girl on a chair

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  • Pumpkin hats

    More art can be found in the art gallery.

    Girl with a pumpkin hat, halloween edition

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  • A steampunk girl

    More can be found in the art gallery.

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  • Beware, Dragons!

    A quick drawing before going to bed, a dragon, obviously ;)

    Beware, Dragons! See the portfolio for a large version

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  • Portfolio

    The portfolio contains several works and projects which I completed or are involved with. The works and projects found here were made as obby, during freelance jobs, during my study on the University of applied science (HAN) and  during my work in my company Islandworks.

    Viewing the projects / websites
    Telling about how great some projects and websites are is something what must be done but experiencing it yourself says more. Please note that not all websites are written in English!
    Go to the portfolio viewer

     

    Some projects from the portfolioviewer

    The Island Balance RemakeThe Island Balance, a remake of the previous The Island which competed in the Irrlicht Christmass/Motion competition.

     

     

    The Island Skyworld, a DreamBuildPlay entry. Featuring our Island again in an entire world of floating islands. Its a RTS game.

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  • Debby

    Here are some first looks into the design for Debby! 1 hour work until now but needs lots of more detail! One of the hardest thing in this picture are the lips, they actualy do't fit right now!

    So shadowlord86 is this more like you thought to see? :D

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  • Debby (2)

    Here is some more progress on Debby Its 3 hours work until now but still needs more detail. A thing I changed is the belly of Debby which gave her a fat look instead normal. And ofcourse the background is much more detailed and different than the first one!

     

    [EDIT]Comments disabled due spam

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  • The Island: Balance remake

    After the irrlicht competition we decided in 2011 to redesign and redevelop the game and give it the glory it deserved.

    So when we started with the gamestudio company Islandworks we started with a remake.

    The Island: Balance is a fun little game where the aim is to save the island from toppling over. To accomplish this goal you need to alter the island’s infrastructure. Every structure has a weight and influences the balance of the island. Also by placing balloons you can stall or even prevent the island’s impending doom. Do you have the speed and wits to save The Island? - Islandworks Website

    See the video

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  • Random art

    Various art I made through the years, some are fan art others are "OC", Original characters.

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