GAMEPLAY NOTEBOOK Entry 3

December 2nd, 2010

Entry 3: Sins of a Would-Be Game Designer
Much more interesting (and satisfying) to me right now is the fact that I finally(!) sat down and really played Sins of a Solar Empire. After briefly talking about it with Corwyn at class a few weeks ago, I hadn’t stopped thinking about it. A few months before Sins released, I’d purchased a game called Galactic Civilizations II, hoping to relieve memories of a game called Ascendancy, itself being just a particularly polished Master of Orion clone. GalCiv 2 was very good; I generally don’t have the time or patience for 4X strategy games, but I do enjoy them from time to time and GalCiv2 is as solid an incarnation of the genre as I’ve seen in a long time. I was interested, then, when I found out that Stardock, designers and publishers of the GalCiv games, were also publishing another space strategy game from developer Iron Clad Games. Their core concept seemed as appealing as it was ambitious; they were essentially attempting to make a real-time 4X space game. The advance press was all very positive and the screenshots were very attractive. I ordered the “collector’s” edition and eagerly awaited its arrival.

And then I didn’t play it.

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GAMEPLAY NOTEBOOK Entry 2

December 2nd, 2010

Exercise 2: The Dig and other Adventures

In preparation for my proposal and first prototype I’ve been trying my hand at classic point and click adventure games. I’m hardly a stranger to the genre; the first computer game I ever saw was Kings Quest 2. The first PC game I ever owned was Quest for Glory I: So you want to be a Hero. These games and their sequels, along with the Space Quest saga, will always have a special place in my heart. But the truth is it has been several years since I’ve played them, and when I do play them I I find it hard to look at them objectively. Therefore, before writing my proposal I wanted to get myself reacquainted with that type of game by playing something similar I’d missed. There were definitely plenty of titles from back in the golden age of adventure gaming to choose from. I knew I didn’t have time to go in-depth with more than one of them however, so I chose Lucasart’s “The Dig”.

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Gameplay Notebook – Wed 9/15/2010

September 18th, 2010

Exercise 1: Halo Reach

Halo: Reach is essentially the 5th game in the “core” Halo line developed by Bungie, the previous four games being Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 3: ODST. As such its a bit hard to consider it in a vacuum, and therefore I won’t necessarily always do so. A lot has been said about the evolving Halo “formula” by both designers and reviewers, and a lot of older information is still relevant in this iteration.

I’m only a few hours into the single-player campaign and will discuss only that portion. Halo games are well-known for being “total packages” with mutliplayer as well as meta-game features such as rankings, recording and playback options, and even game design tools, but while those certainly influenced my purchase decision, they will not directly influence this writing.

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GAMEPLAY NOTEBOOK – What is it?

September 18th, 2010

The Gameplay Notebook is simply a journal I’m keeping of my gaming activities as part of my coursework at SCAD. I think, however, that the contents definitely fit in with the general themes of this web page and blog, so heck, I thought I’d put it up. One of the objectives of keeping this journal is to lean how to analyze the various elements and decisions taken by various game designers, and perhaps speculate on possibilities and alternatives. These are NOT game reviews, though some of those might come later.

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Introductory post: About the Wolfmage

September 15th, 2010

Before I get started, please note that I will be putting up identical posts here and at my SCAD blog.

My name is Leonardo J. Ceballos. Human male, born 1980 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’m an Interactive Design and Game Development major, focused on the gamedev track. Which is ironic, because most of my experience is in web/interactive design. I received a BFA in Computer Art from Syracuse University from where I graduated in 2002. After that I spent a few years freelancing and doing widely varied jobs; I got certified as a CompTIA PC technician, modeled over a dozen 3D buildings for a post-production company, painted murals, and slowly began concentrating on web work, mostly because that is where the jobs were.

In 2006 I was hired by RE Advertising, a small but successful company which at the time was focused on marketing new Real Estate projects. The work entailed a large amount of both web design and 3D architectural viz work. I spent four years at RE, but it gradually became evident that it was becoming increasingly hard to develop my skill set, and web design; especially at that level; was never where I intended to end up. So when I learned that SCAD was offering a Game Development program in Atlanta, I made up my mind to apply for it. And here I am.

So why Game Development? Well, here is where I tell you I’ve been gaming since I was 3. I’d wait eagerly for dad to come home so we could play on the Atari 2600. Like a lot of gamers of my generation, my first system of my own was the original NES, but I had the privilege of having my own computer at what back then was a very young age. It was an IBM PS2 computer, with a whopping 614kb of RAM, 20mb hard drive, and (then amazing) VGA graphics. Utterly pathetic compared to the average cell phone nowadays, it nonetheless ran a few games that have influenced me to this day. Among them are the Sierra “Quest” series, particularly Quest for Glory, and a little game from Electronic Arts called Starflight. If you want to hear me rant, by all means do ask me about Starflight.

The medium of Games has always interested me as a storytelling tool; I’m an avid reader, particularly of Science Fiction, and have long felt that gaming has the potential to tell stories beyond what can be achieved by books or movies alone.

Some of my older work, and a lot of my archviz work, can be found at my site. The following are a few other examples of my work.

Metro San Juan Magazine – Probably the largest site I’ve done at RE in terms of content.

Ciudad Jardin Gurabo – Flash/html hybrid site.

Torre Mayor PR – Flash site.

Bahia Minitas 12 – More typical of our smaller projects at RE.

Ocean Terrace PR – Typical of our smaller CSS-based sites.

1064 Plaza – Flash based site.

Marmotech- Simple, mostly unremarkable site, but all of the images in the “productos” category are product shot renders, something I was very eager to explore more of.

Purico SE – One of our older sites, the design is very basic. Worthy of note are the warehouse, retail and commercial listings, which are dynamically created from a mysql database that the owner can update using a fairly simple php form. It was a very interesting project to do, though nowadays we’d be likely to use a custom WordPress theme to achieve a similar effect.

PHP!

March 24th, 2010

Just changed over to using all php files with an “included” header and footer. Aside from making site-wide updates much faster, I like the fact that it makes the normal parts of the site work even more like the WordPress areas.

Should have gone this way from the start, but I have a somewhat superstitious fear of certain kinds of php code because I think they’ll be harder to deal with since I can’t test them offline. Nonsense, of course; just have to be clever about it, but it makes me want to finish setting up my Linux box so I can set up an Apache web server and test things offline. Something to think about.

If you’re reading this, changing all them file names might’ve left some broken links. If you run across any, please do let me know.

Bugs!

March 21st, 2010

Just went through a round of bug squashing. More to come.

wolfmage.com relaunches!

March 20th, 2010

Well, its still mostly barren and very much incomplete, but pretty much all the main features I had in mind are installed and working. Over the next few days and weeks the content will hopefully fill out, and the remaining bugs and dead links will be stamped out.  A few minor “final” cosmetic changes are in the works, too.