AnimfxNZ 2011 – day 1

Just a quick post to cover my first day at Animfx. Apart from some AV glitches everything ran pretty smoothly and all the speakers were fantastic. The MC is hilarious but he didn’t really introduce himself so I have no idea who he is!

The speakers that I saw today were:

Lance Priebe – who gave a good account of Club Penguin and its history. Very interesting.

Patrick Hudson – ex Ensemble Studios who talked about their move from big budget to smaller scale games. Some interesting stuff here but it did sound a bit like “we have just discovered Agile dev” (there was more to it then that of course)

Tracey Sellar – from Microsoft’s usability/user research group discussing their work helping tune AAA titles. The video clip of the usability test session with a guy who obviously wasn’t much of gamer playing a GTA style game was hilarious.

Scott Foe – gave a very good presentation of the state of the game industry and what a studio needs to be doing to be successful.  Interesting push for getting a minimum viable product to market and the using Kanban to create content and updates in a sustainable way.

David Rosenbaum – covering the history of the game industry, the current platforms and the next cycle of platforms and delivery channels.

Sean Kauppinen – threw up lots of facts and figures covering trends in technologies, platforms and markets. Nice interactive session.

And lastly Enrico Casarosa from Pixar who premiered “La Luna” the new Pixar short film. Apparently this was the first time it had been shown in the Southern Hemisphere!  He then proceeded to give a detailed and fascinating account of the development of the short. I only wished that they would have played the short a second time so you could see it in light of all the great background detail that Enrico gave. Here is a YouTube clip from the short:

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All in all very cool day. Tomorrow I’m in the “Games Master Class” which should be fun and on Thursday we get to go hang out at Weta which should be awesome.

Jumbler, my first flash game

Over the weekend I published my first flash game, it’s called Jumbler. There is not too much to the game, to be honest. It was really more the result of me tinkering with the Flixel game framework to see what it could do; rather then my idea of a “blow your mind, addictive game”.

I’m must say that I’m pretty impressed with Flixel. Jumbler took less then 10 hours to put together and the bulk of the time was spent on the theme and graphics (such as they are). The initial game code (with box only graphics) took only about 3 hours.

The other cool thing was that this was built with entirely free tools and assets:

  • Flixel – is a really great AS3 game framework. It does a fantastic job of turning flash into a game engine and letting you focus on writing a game, not on fighting with Flash.
  • Flex SDK – The flash compiler and tools given away by Adobe.
  • Flashdevelop – An open source Flash IDE. Syntax completion is a dream.
  • Inkscape – An open source vector editor kinda of like Illustrator. It uses SVG as its native format and has excellent .png export support. All the graphics in Jumbler are drawn with Inkscape which made it really easy to resize, edit and evolve them on the fly.
  • Flash Kit – Excellent resource for free sound effects.
  • – Excellent resource for free fonts. This is where I found the Boingo font that I used to drive the look of jumbler.

If you are interested in getting started with Flixel, then check out these links. The first is a basic “Hello World” tutorial, which shows you how to get your environment set-up and write a simple Flixel app. The second shows you all the key concepts you need to understand to build a game in Flixel, by creating a simple Defender style game.

I’m thinking of porting my half-finished “nac” game over to Flixel and integrating Box2D for the physics. It should be interesting.

Auditorium – awesome flash game

I stumbled across a flash game called Auditorium last night. It is an awesome game, combining physics, particles and music to make an addictive puzzle game.

The graphics are fantastic, each completed level looks like a living bit of abstract art. The first few levels (called acts) are available for free. I’m really tempted to shell out the $10 to get access to all 15 acts (about 70 levels).

Click here to play or click here for more info on the game play

Obama using in-game ads

In my last post I joked about see games on billboards in games, turns out that EA already does this and Obama is using them to spread his vote-for-change message.

Obama has ads in 18 different games including Guitar Hero 3 , The Incredible Hulk, NASCAR 09, NBA Live 08 , NFL Tour and Burnout Paradise.

In Burnout Paradise the ads simple appear along the side of the road as you go whizzing by, all very sneaky and subliminal:

Obama in-game billboard

This isn't the first time Obama's campaign has used non-traditional media, earlier this month, his campaign placed VoteForChange ads on users' home pages of the social networking site

Google gets into games and watches you from space

Two interesting bits of news from Google today. The first is adsense for games which allows game developers to place Google ads inside games.

Only flash games are currently supported and there are some fairly hefty entry requirements for early adopters:

  • Game plays: Minimum 500,000 per day
  • Game types: Web-based Flash only
  • Integration: Must be technically capable of SDK integration
  • Traffic source: Must be 80% US & UK Traffic
  • Content: Family safe and targeted at users age 13 and up
  • Distribution: Must be able to report embed destination and have control over where games are distributed

I’m having visions of playing Counterstrike and seeing dynamic ads on bullet-ridden billboards in the future…

The second bit of Google news is their first images from the new satellite GeoEye-1 which will be used to update Google maps and Google Earth imagery. Apparently GeoEye-1 is the world highest resolution commercial sattelite with a resolution of 50cm ! Google sightseeing should get really interesting now and those naked sunbathers better have satellite position timetable handy.