Feb. 2018 Meeting Recap
We’re off to a great start this year! Our first meeting of 2018 saw a nice turnout of faces both old and new, we shared a good number of our personal projects covering a wide range of topics, and thanks to the generous folks at Xerocraft we have a new home to do it all in.
Tucson’s local makerspace and hackerspace, Xerocraft, has graciously offered to host TGD’s monthly meetings with a sizeable space in their basement. There’s plenty of seating and table space, ample lighting, and a nice big projector for all of the sharing we do. And they’re not charging us for its use, so we can continue to operate without any membership dues!
We’d like to return the favor, so we’ll be looking for ways we can give back. In fact, one has already come up: the Xerocraft website is in need of a makeover, so if you have graphic design chops and are willing to donate some time to help us reciprocate, please let us know.
Hacking custom input devices with Chris
Chris showed us how he took a big, antique, double-throw knife switch that could have once been Doctor Frankenstein’s and, not unlike the wayward Doctor, gave it new life as a Unity-friendly USB input device with some simple wiring, an Arduino Uno, and a library called UnoJoy that converts the Uno into a PS3-compatible game controller. He demoed the setup with a simple Unity FPS project where closing the switch fires the gun, making for a very tactile “throw the lever!” experience.
Playing Unity games from Discord and building websites with Andrew
Andrew showed off his personal website, which he’s been building from the ground up himself. Check it out, he’s building it here: https://aseward.games
Later, he showed us a simple Unity project that allows a player to fight off waves of monsters. The twist: those monsters are spawned by Discord chat commands! His demo Unity project used DSharpPlus, a .NET library wrapping the Discord API, to run a Discord chat server and listen to the main channel for various chat commands. Even simply swarming his character with monsters from the comfort of our own mobile devices was fun!
Crafting and growing mechanics with Thomas
This week we got to meet Thomas, a game artist and designer from Texas, who moved to Tucson last May. Welcome, Thomas!
He showed off his portfolio, and a lot of the discussion focused on a GameMaker project he called God of Fruit. In it, you direct characters to grow, harvest, and combine fruits of different colors to create new colors for various purposes. We talked about the vast potential of good crafting systems, and about making effective use of the passage of time in game design.
Phase update: pre-designed levels with TJ
TJ showed off his new system for browsing and loading pre-designed levels in his project Phase, a faithful clone of the Amiga game Lode Runner in Haxe + WebGL. Some of us took turns playing through the new level sequence, which was both a great tour of the game’s revival of old-school design and also a good backdrop for conversation about progression and tutorials.
For more about Phase, check out TJ’s devlog on TIGSource.
Community building: an experiment and exercise, with Bobby (that’s me!)
I shared a project I’m using to explore devlogging and building community around a game through early and frequent engagement. I call it itr8, because the plan is to almost transparently build a game using tiny 1-week release cycles in order to iterate frequently on the design, constantly prompting and incorporating input from devlog readers. As I presented, we talked about a range of subjects including player investment, marketing (especially word-of-mouth), and hosting games on itch.io.