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  Why do you make me do it? 12:12 AM -- Sat February 11, 2012  

Fridays are a day off! I don't have to work today, and I didn't. So what can I tell you? Nothing!!

I baked White Trash Cake today. That's a pretty vulgar name (but I'd like to point out it's also known as "Dump Cake", so really I'm prettying it up), but apparently it's the real official name based on my minimal google efforts. It's so good, and so unhealthy. Wanna know how to make it? One-sentence recipe: pour a can of pie filling (any flavor) in the bottom of a 13x9 pan, sprinkle boxed cake mix over it (not prepared, just the powder), then pour a melted stick of butter over that, trying to get it everywhere, then bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes. Yum! You do want the butter to moisten as much of the mix as possible, or you end up with dry cake dust on top. I ended up sprinkling water on halfway through to try to catch some of that.

Secondary info: I ran a mile and walked another, so that counteracts the cake.

Tertiary info: Yesterday, Barokorcbama followed in Amazinrandi's footsteps and became my fifth level 85 character! Huzzah!

I'm enjoying my day off. I may have eaten too much cake.
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  Click To Build 11:56 PM -- Thu February 9, 2012  

I wouldn't say it's flying along, but this is what you get when you make me blog at you every day! Finally there's some actual menuey stuff in the game. This is the pop-up you get when you click on a blank space (if a tower can be placed there). As you can see, there are four basic tower types, at least at the moment. Next to that is a tower under construction, an animation I quite enjoy, though it doesn't look like much in a still image.

There's a similar pop-up for clicking on an existing tower, which lets you upgrade it or convert it into a fancier tower type. The four basic towers each have two more advanced towers they can become, and upgrading is independent of that. Changing the type just changes what it does, while upgrading is how you make it more powerful. Upgrading is just the classic more damage, faster rate, bigger range thing. The fancier towers are probably inherently more powerful too, since you have to pay to make them happen. I wouldn't know that yet, since there's currently exactly one type of tower!
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  Back To Camp! 03:18 AM -- Thu February 9, 2012  

Look at all that action! There is now a goal (but no way to win or lose). As you can see, the monsters are stealing the food from the camp and carrying it off. If they get back to their dimensional portal (the black smudge on the lower left - it looks a lot more interesting in motion), they zoom away with your food and you are sad. Lose all 5 food items and you lose the battle.

Now you can also see an arrow pointing at the selected Beefy. That's because it means something to select one - You can select one just to check out its health like any tower defense, but the selected enemy also becomes the focus of any tower that's in range to hit it, rather than them automatically aiming at the one closest to the campfire as is normal. Just to spice it up and make it an important bit of gameplay, I might add an actual damage bonus against the selected enemy (and replace the arrow with a skull to make it serious business). To be fair, I'm about 80% sure I've seen this feature in a game I've played, so it's not original. But if I'm wrong, then it is super original! Wow!

Anyway, I can't say I was super productive today, but the good news is that Amazinrandi, my dwarf priest (so named because he looks like James Randi), turned 85 today! Now I have 4 85s, and one more guy within half a level of it. So yeah, a worthwhile day. Good thing I also coded something, or I wouldn't have had anything to blog at you!
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  How To Make Games 11:59 PM -- Tue February 7, 2012  

Uh oh, over 5 journal comments! Yes, it is a tower defense game (not reverse!). I love tower defense!

I got this email yesterday, and I thought I would answer it here, since it's kind of a FAQ of sorts, but a little more broad than that. The gist of it was "I want to be a game designer, so can you tell me how to do that, or talk about how you got where you are?"

The first issue is what it means to be a "game designer". That's a very specific job in the game industry, and you, yes you, aren't going to get to hold that job unless you work for yourself. There are actually a lot of different jobs that are called "game designer", but most of them are very menial and, while they're creative, you are creative over only some small part of the game, and it's not what people think of when they say "I'm designing a game". For example, you might be writing scripts that control how a switch opens a door. It's like programming, but simpler. Or you might be designing levels, similar to what you do in the Dr. Lunatic editor, except that the basic idea and layout of the level is dictated by a senior designer ("This is the snow level, where you snipe at guys and then have to stealth down to the castle and climb up the side of it").

What people really want to be is a senior designer (that is not necessarily the title at every company, but it gets the point across). That's a job that requires lots of experience and proven results to show you're capable of it. That's the job where you get to come up with the game and dictate how it all comes out while peons crank it out for you. ...Except it's not. There is still a whole layer above you that is really in charge. The company president and/or owner meet with marketing guys and decide what kind of game they want, and they turn to you to make their vague concept into a fleshed out design, which you then turn to programmers and artists to make into an actual game. Just another cog in the machine, albeit one with a lot of latitude, hopefully. The boss I worked under at a game company didn't exactly spare the freedom... he liked to be in charge, which meant dictating a lot of details, and I don't think that's rare. After all, he's the boss, it makes sense that he wants to be in charge!

So, what you really want (I'm projecting here, but I think it's statistically likely) is to be the company owner. And how do you get to be one of those? You either A> work for yourself, or B> be a famous pitcher with millions of dollars and pay for an army of employees out of your pocket (Ooh, I played the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo, and it was cool!). Since you probably are interested in this stuff because it's what you want to spend your time doing, you shouldn't go the baseball route, and you should work for yourself.

And that's the bottom line. If you want creative freedom, if you want to make the games that you have ideas for, there's only one realistic path: do it yourself. But the good news is that this path is easy! Anybody can do it, you just have to want to do it and put in the effort. The tools are all freely available, and you've got the spare time, so start making games! That's what I did, that's what every other indie you've ever heard of did, and that's what you should do. Just make games.

Now if you want to know how to just make games, that's a much longer discussion that I'm not qualified for. But I can recommend Flash Game Dojo as a way to get started in flash games, which is a nice quick-feedback way to go. You will definitely start out very confused, no matter what tools you start with, but you have to keep hacking at it, making stupid little tiny things, and gradually you'll pick up the good stuff. Back when I started this, it was at least 150,000 times harder than it is today. The tools you have today are unbelievably simplified and accessible, not to mention free and surrounded by a community of users who will help you. Do some googling, you'll be buried in more options to pursue than you have time in your life to try. Back in my day, we had to use paper books to learn things. You'll pick this up no problem if it's really so fascinating to you that you want to spend your spare time fiddling with it.
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  Guessing Game! 01:20 AM -- Tue February 7, 2012  

A screenshot of what I'm currently working on. Your challenge for today is to guess what on earth this game is. Obviously you can't know what it's called (I actually haven't decided that yet anyway), or what the plot is, but what kind of game is it? How does it play? What is going on there? Mysterious!! Actually, this is probably gonna be easy, but let's see what people say.

In other news, I was reading back through really old journal entries today, and I decided I need to blog more! So there's a second challenge for you: From now on (at least for the rest of this month, I may forget this rule later, but hey, you can remind me!), if a journal entry gets comments from 5 different people, I will journal again the next day! I think that's a fun challenge, because it means I get feedback, and it means you get to know what's going on, and it encourages me to do something I should do anyway. See if you can keep me journaling nonstop for the rest of my life!

Rule: Those 5 comments have to be present by the middle-ish of the next day. If you post something akin to "first!" or something otherwise useless or offensive, I will of course delete it like I always do, which means it won't be present! So post constructively.

P.S. Witch Game? is still very much on my mind and I'm really looking forward to getting back to it once I finish up the project pictured above.
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