Oct 8, 2016

Dice Souls

Limitations can be seen to confine ones creativity but after years of work, I feel that it is actually the opposite. Limitations confine one which forces them to innovate even harder and focus more on their objectives. While limitless resources can be empowering, I’ve seen it create confusion or a sense of needing to do too much hence missing the primary objective altogether.

In a recent exercise on Coursera to create a single-player game on a single sheet of A4 with two dice, this was the outcome of such limited space. The emphasis was to make a game that could be played by a single person, provide incremental challenges using only two dice. Then the next step came refining the rules in order to be easily understood by people unfamiliar with the game. Then the exercise threw us a whopper by adding an additional player to the mix and then adding narrative to the game, all still within the limited space of an A4 piece of paper.

Here is my version of DICE SOULS, (as tough as Dark Souls but with Dice!). Feel free to print out and play with two dice.

Oct 8, 2016

Missing H.264

A stupid problem that has been plaguing me for the longest time was After Effect’s H.264 format. The vanilla installation of AECC would not allow you to render out using that format and since most videos are now designed for Youtube uploads, the H.264 compression is one of the best suited for it. I’ve tried loads.Usually the format comes with an installation of Quicktime but when that didn’t work, I finally found the solution in another Youtube video. I’m just putting this up here in the event that my memory fails me and I find myself in the same situation again.

Go to the Preferences and look for Output.

Make sure you enable “Show Depreciated Formats in Output Module Settings

And voila! You should now be able to render your videos using the H.264 format compression.
Sep 17, 2016

The Shooter – Rewritten

As a massive fan of Zombie fiction and also someone who is tasked with a writing assignment, I’ve decided to rewrite a given script and change it’s setting while retaining its original flavour. Here is my rewritten “The Shooter”.

This story is set in a post-apocalyptic version of a modern city where a viral plague has either killed or transformed a majority of the population into mindless flesh-eating creatures (zombies). It has been some time after the initial outbreak and the survivors have banded together and built small settlements with high-walls and basic infrastructure. These settlements are heavily defended and protected by teams of survivors who occasionally forage and scavenge for usable materials outside the walls. The story focuses on one such settlement, New Glenmary, that was built upon the ruins of a shopping-complex.

The story focuses on Jake, the former Warden of the settlement and leader of his team of Sentinels who serve as the protectors of the settlement and its standing army. After an incident in which Raiders weakened their defenses, a large number of zombies managed to break through and kill an entire section of the colony, Jake was distraught when he realized that not only had he failed in his duty but his family had been part of those killed in the attack. In the aftermath, with nothing left to live for, Jake decided to leave the colony in better hands and wander the ruins of Glenmary alone seeking oblivion.

Unknown to Jake, the Raiders were negotiating with Dead-Eye Jane, the leader of a Dagger team who made regular forays into the ruins in search for materials and salvage. She was ruthless and cunning and felt that decisions and authority should be given only to those that risked their lives in the ruins. Her dissatisfaction turned into hate over time and she put her plans into action. The incident with the breach was orchestrated by her in order to throw New Glenmary into disarray before disbanding the existing council that governed the settlement. With Jake out of the way, she easily swept aside all detractors and established herself as the leader of New Glenmary.

Against all odds, Jake returns after living a year in the ruins surviving alone and sees the suffering brought about by Jane’s leadership. Those who spoke out against her were killed outright or sold into slavery to Raider parties that would occasionally visit. No one was safe and many fell prey to Jane’s ‘Daggers’ who could take whatever they wanted and do anything they wished as long as it was not against the will of Dead-Eye Jane. Feeling guilt over abandoning the survivors to this tyrant, Jake swears on his family’s graves to do everything in his power to make things right again.

Jake quietly integrates back into New Glenmary and reestablishes contact with his old comrades in the Sentinels who survived Jane’s initial manhunt. Many survivors were on the brink of revolt but lacked the leadership to do so. Jake fanned these flames by inciting the populace and made quick raids on weapon caches, quietly arming the people of New Glenmary. His old second-in-command Mike, who lost an arm to the cruelty of the Daggers aided in the organization and training of the rebels.

Things came to head when a Dagger who was forcing himself upon a female survivor, found a shiv in his ribs instead. This forced the Daggers to sound an alarm to spread out and search the settlement. This prompted Jake and the rebels to spring into action and signaled the attack on Jane’s Daggers. Though well-armed, the Daggers were outnumbered and the fury of the survivors were unleashed upon them in bloody close-combat. None of the Daggers survived that night and the screaming continued on late into the night as an oppressed population claimed retribution for any wrongs beset upon them.

Jake finally faced off with Jane in her self-styled palace in the upper levels of the mall. In the ensuing battle, Jane’s other eye was shot out by Jake and with blood streaming down her face, she fell into a pit that held a few pet zombies that had their teeth filed off. Jane had used the pit to slowly silence any dissenters in the settlement by sentencing them to a slow and arduous death being slowly gnawed apart by the undead. Blinded and groping about, the ever-vengeful Jane never pleaded for mercy as Jake stumbled out of the palace with a wound she had inflicted upon him during the battle. Jake never turned back even as the screaming started.

The battle was over and  the settlement was saved. The old ways were reestablished and New Glenmary was rebuilt and fortified. Eventually the virus burned out and New Glenmary became one of the larger settlements responsible for the rebuilding of civilization. Under Jake’s leadership, connection was established with neighboring settlements and the Raiders were summarily hunted down and scattered.

Dec 23, 2014

The Next Level

Had the sudden inspiration to produce a shirt for a dynamic duo of game developers that have been supportive of what we’re trying to do. Wedding was a blast!

Apr 11, 2014

On Dice-Rolls and Results

Dungeon Fodder had a loot table which operated on a dice-roll. One issue was that the odds for “Leveling Up!” were too ridiculously difficult so I had to think about why. A player only levels up on a roll of 3 or 18 but what were the odds? I had a look around and this site explained it pretty thoroughly to me;

3 dice or 3d6 equates to 6 to the power of 3 which comes up to 216 possibilities. Typically a 3d6 would yield you only 16 possibilities (3 to 18) so from there one can calculate the odds of getting a specific number. While not something astronomically new, it does highlight the fact that game designers must have a strong understanding of mathematics to handle data, probability and statistics. Therefore the odds for 3 dice would be as follows;

Probability of a sum of 3: 1/216 = 0.5%
Probability of a sum of 4: 3/216 = 1.4%
Probability of a sum of 5: 6/216 = 2.8%
Probability of a sum of 6: 10/216 = 4.6%
Probability of a sum of 7: 15/216 = 7.0%
Probability of a sum of 8: 21/216 = 9.7%
Probability of a sum of 9: 25/216 = 11.6%
Probability of a sum of 10: 27/216 = 12.5%
Probability of a sum of 11: 27/216 = 12.5%
Probability of a sum of 12: 25/216 = 11.6%
Probability of a sum of 13: 21/216 = 9.7%
Probability of a sum of 14: 15/216 = 7.0%
Probability of a sum of 15: 10/216 = 4.6%
Probability of a sum of 16: 6/216 = 2.8%
Probability of a sum of 17: 3/216 = 1.4%
Probability of a sum of 18: 1/216 = 0.5%

Also on an unrelated note, the designs for an Orientation type activity is underway and there are thoughts of using comparison tables such as the one below. It has been a long time since I’ve seen one used but it is a fun and visual way to figure out the results of a dice roll. I might also try to integrate this into Dungeon Fodder if the need arises and it helps by visually explaining concepts on the game.

Mar 27, 2014

Price Point

During the first Gameplay Test, testers were asked about how much they thought Dungeon Fodder could typically charge on an international market. Fortunately 3 of the playtesters were frequent board-gamers that also purchased plenty of physical tabletop games themselves so they mentioned they were typically used to paying up to 50USD for a product of similar content. A game mentioned was Ankama’s Krosmaster and Skylander that also has miniatures.

Miniatures would increase the cost of the production of the game but also add to the ‘collectible’ quality of the game. Perhaps some research into this is timely.

Mar 13, 2014

Gameplay Test #1

I conducted the first gameplay test after a long time at the nearby Hainan Kopitiam at SS2 Mall with some play-testers Nicholas Tan, Ken Chan, Lum Hong Leong, Eric Khoo and Aliff Marzuki.This is the first of two planned Gameplay Tests do strengthen the mechanics of the game. Participants to the playtest were taught how to play and then allowed to play the game with minimal supervision. The 2nd Playtest session was meant to utilize the feedback from the first into a more refined version and test to see if the changes improved the game.

Two games were played at an average of an hour per game. The 2nd time around was much quicker once players were familiar with the mechanics of the game. The first game was between a mix of heroes with each player picking a hero of their liking. The 2nd game was between 6-players (myself included) and was a match between Rogues and Wizards.

Here is a list of things that were commented upon or suggestions given to develop the game further.

Players that die should probably be ressurrected as an Undead Zombie instead of just moving the Monster

This is to ensure that players have something to do AFTER they die. Perhaps players that died still earn 2 Gold for every kill they make while in undead form regardless of their team alignment.

Passing of players and Monster on the board

Players should not be able to bypass other players and the Monster on the board to ensure that the Monster functions as a block-in mechanic. Another possibility would be to give the Rogue the option to ‘Tumble’ to roll away from Monsters and other players.

Ranged Abilities for all players

Rogues should be given minor range abilities of perhaps 1 or 2 tiles to throw daggers instead of having to go melee with Warriors.

Leap / Charge

In addition to Ranged attacks, Warriors should be given the ability to Leap forward one or two squares but risk being stunned on a failed leap. Rolling beneath your Skill would mean a failure and the Warrior is moved forward but is stunned (unable to take an Action). A success would allow the warrior to move forward and make an attack.

Debuff Warrior Defence.

In game, Removed +1 to Warrior Defence and Removed Warrior’s ability to brew potions. Might reconsider returning one ability as Potions now have a risk factor In brewing and might result in being poisoned. (1 – Poisoned, 2-3 Nothing, 4-6 Succeed)

Monster Movement needs tweaking

1 – Fail, 2-5 Move 1 tile, 6-Move 2 tiles

Wizard blinks through walls.

If Wizards were limited in their teleportation abilities, it could be balanced by allowing them to blink through walls.

Wizard’s Fireball 10 spaces only

Currently the Wizards have a strong advantage over Rogues because of the long-range capabilities. Limiting their fireballs may help balance out the odds but it might also cripple the wizards.

Other Considerations

Regeneration, Moving through walls, Rogues can Evade (reroll Defence), Double Edge abilities that damage both attacker and victim.

 Next Step

The next step would be to decide if these changes are worthwhile committing to and what chain-reactions would these implementation cost the gameplay. I have found that minor changes could have drastic effects to how a game works and this is referred to as the fine art of ‘Balancing’.

Feb 21, 2014

Eastgate Properties

Another more serious Corporate Identity for a Property Developer. Infinity and Flowing were important to the design.

Feb 4, 2014

It Builds Character

I’ve finally settled on a look for the characters of Dungeon Fodder, namely the Warrior, Wizard and the Rogue. This has actually undergone many changes and I realize part of the problem could be my own perception that any art is never finished and every time you come back to an unfinished piece, there will be a part of you that wants to chuck the entire thing out and start over again.

Well I’ve settled for this look for the characters for a number of reasons;

Thinking back to my past as an animator, if you character has long lasting appeal, then there is a higher chance your game would make it commercially. I also feel these designs would have a higher ‘cute’ rating and would look interesting as potential plushies (how and when is a problem for another day). This was something I picked up while pitching for an animated series a few years back. Merchandising always has to have a place in your project planning. Many artists cringe at the thought of such crass commercial considerations infringing on the artistic process but that’s the way the industry works.

After much thought, I do think there is some truth in that, the problem is where to draw the line.

Jan 3, 2014

Borders Stocks European Board-Games

I recently found out that Borders stocks European Board-games. This is an interesting potential and I’d add it to my list of things to check out.