Tag: John Cooney
For the past 2-3 months, John and I have been going back and forth about whether or not to make a TITOL3. 3 weeks ago, the project was greenlighted and we dove right in. It was a very different experience than TITOL2 for 2 big, related reasons: I had 0 lead time to start coming up with stage ideas and John and I didn’t meet up to spend a day doing nothing but setting the 30 stages, their names, their orders, how they’d work, etc. On TITOL2, I had spent about 6 weeks coming up with ideas and then John and I spent day 1 of development solidifying the core of the game. For TITOL3, it was mostly off the cuff… yes, I had 5 or so ideas that had been floating around in my mind, but most of it was done on the spot, with John giving a, “Hey. We’re working on this. We have 2 weeks. GO!”
Anyway, 3 weeks later, the game is now live on Armor. SO PLAY IT!
This version of the game has ditched the button and gone with a switch. Elephant now poops pastries (ala AU2). And there are 4 teleporting doors located throughout the level. Not to mention a return of the velociraptor, FML mode, and Hyper mode… plus a new Invisible mode.
Can you beat my speedrun time of 2:57.97?
So crazy to think… amazing really. For a walkthrough to have so many views. This is the only level’s walkthrough hit 3 million views today. Yay!
Use Boxmen will hit 2 million very shortly as well.
Don’t think I’ll have any new 7 digit milestone posts for a while. Oh well.
The original list is from February. A lot has changed since then. There are 17 new videos in the Top 100. The 100th video viewcount increased from 58k to 93k. Total views from the Top 100 has increased from 22 mil to 33 mil. But other things remain the same… Armor is well in first, with BubbleBox still solidly second. Joey Betz is still my top dev, but John Cooney and Eugene Karataev are gaining. And the % of views from the Top 100 has decreased from 81% to 76%.
I received an email a few days ago asking me to fill out a survey about FGS, and what I filled in for the comments is pretty much what I am going to say here. I’ll only discuss those topics that I sat in on, which was all 3 developer story times that were in the dev room and all but 1 of the money panels (I also missed the NowBoarding storytime, but it was in direct competition with another story time). I did not hear anything about the 3 flash technologies that were discussed in the dev room.
Keynote: As stated in my previous post, we got to the keynote late, and only heard the last 10 minutes or so. However, I don’t understand the grandstanding of Jameson Huo (CEO of MochiMedia). I’ve said before that I have no idea how conferences generally work, but in my logical mind it seems appropriate for someone opening up a day of speakers to talk about the state of the industry, advances of the past year, hopes for the coming year… not to promote one’s own company and use it as a platform for announcing new services. People speaking are supposed to be imparting wisdom to assist those attending, not trying to boost their own bottom line (ok, everyone speaking is trying to boost their own bottom line… but it doesn’t have to be THAT obvious and in our faces).
AtomAtomic and Canabalt: I think I was pretty accurate with my statement in my previous rant from last month. Cool game, but no point/sense/need to have a 30 minute talk about how it was developed. It’s an incredibly simple game, and I think just about any successful game’s development story would have been quite similar, if not significantly more interesting.
History of Nitrome: Quite fascinating and entertaining, but I don’t know how helpful the talk was. I feel like their formula is fairly straight-forward… it just takes years of dedicated game development to get to the point that they’re at. Most developers could have taken a similar path as the Annals, they just didn’t have the drive or creative mindset to do so.
Next Gen Monetization: This panel was 4 guys who have microtransaction (MT) platforms trying to tell everyone why MTs are awesome, but that games need to be designed from the ground up to incorporate them; they can’t just be slapped on at the end. I certainly agree with what they said, but they pretty much covered everything they could say in about 5 minutes, then repeated themselves for another 55. The Social Gold guy barely spoke English (same with the moderator) and did not seem to add much at all to the panel. There was a question asked at the end of the panel that would have been quite worthwhile, except the douche who asked it was more interested in trying to be an asshole than actually asking something meaningful. He wanted to know why the 4 guys were only discussing MTs, when the topic of the panel was not “MTs in Flash Games,” it was “Next Gen Monetization.” Which is a perfectly valid question… and it stems from the selection committee either a) picking a bad topic or b) not picking a diversified enough group of people. I’ll go with B, given the group of people were all completely identical, just from different companies, although A could be accurate if all one wanted to do was change the name of the panel to match the people speaking.
Monetize Game Outside Sponsorship: So we got the money side of things from MT companies. Now we get the low and dirty from developers who all made a bunch of cash not getting their games sponsored… 3 through direct sale and 1 through MTs. Daniel James, while just as interesting as last year, didn’t really say anything new from last year (except the fascinating tidbit about Whirled losing 4+ million dollars). The Rocketbirds guy was a flat out terrible speaker, and probably detracted from the panel, having no idea what to say and admitting he had no idea what he was doing when monetizing his game. Colin Northway, after his plethora of comments and mockings last year, was rather refined when speaking. From talking with Andy Moore (Colin’s best friend, worked on Fantastic Contraption, and was the moderator of the panel) the night before over beers, I was informed that Colin had spoken about FC multiple times at conventions… my guess is he was a bit burnt out by it at this point. Overall, fairly interesting… you definitely can make way more money through this model, the game just needs to be really cool.
Sponsorship Panel: My proposed panel was so awesome that 2 of my speakers were stolen for this one. [/bitter]. Greg completely dominated this panel. Candystand was doomed from the start, because their member on the panel doesn’t even do sponsorships for them and she’d only been with the site for 4 months… my boy Dave Fahrer should have manned up and owned face on the panel. Joel Breton from Addicting Games seemed to be in his own little world during the panel, and apparently has a different opinion about his site’s sponsorship methods than that of every developer and other sponsor that I talked to (their speaker at last year’s FGS left the same impression). Lars is a cool guy, but he and Robin were toting the sugar-coated P.C. corporate verbage that nobody actually believes is truthful. And this is why Greg rocked it… he told the truth, bluntly. We’re all industry people, we’re all big kids, we all want to know the truth to make successful games as well as money… sugar coating sponsorships doesn’t help developers.
Boxhead: I’ll say the same thing I said directly to Sean Cooper about his talk… I didn’t understand 95% of it. But I’m not a developer, so it’s ok. The developers who I talked to about Sean’s talk (Jmtb, Gregory Weir, etc) all said that Sean is a genius. So I approve. However, it was also noted (and I agree) that he jumped around a lot, and didn’t really have a good flow from A to B in his talk. He also said something to me later in the day that I wasn’t sure if he was joking about or not (John said the same thing happened to him when talking to Sean); I’ll have to investigate more.
Zynga’s After Party: [rant]This started off strong… bus transportation from the conference to the bar. And it was all down hill from there. Let’s list the problems… 1) Extremely loud music is not conducive to networking. 2) Over 500 people at FGS this year, yet the bar is smaller than the 09 after party bar… could barely breathe, let alone move around. 3) Why, why, why, why, why did Zynga invite people from GDC to the party? Are they seriously that cheap that they can’t have 2 parties if they really want to host the FGS after party AND have a GDC party? It started off with all FGS people, but by about 8:00 it was filling in with old people in suits.[/rant]
So, I know this all comes across as pretty harsh… but this event is important to me and I’d like to see it be as awesome as possible. I also focused on the negative in this post, as I covered most of the positive things in the previous ones (networking, awesome people, etc). The event still needs to focus more on the games themselves, and less on profiting from them (I think we’re at the point where if we talk about monetization any more next year, it’ll just be a complete reiteration of this and last year’s talks). I think I have 1 more post’s worth of material, dealing with suggestions for FGS11.
Also, random note, I completely agree with something John said in his FGS10 blog post: it’s shocking how many social games are being developed in Flash; last year at the after party, I met all kinds of people doing random stuff in the industry… this year, almost every random person I talked to was working on a social game for Facebook.
The trip started off wonderfully, with a 90+ minute delay before I even left. Got into SFO around 12:45 and waited for about 20 minutes until John and Joey’s plane landed. Got bag and left to get a BART into the city. Now, John grew up in this general area, so we trusted him with the simple task of airport navigation to the BART station… and instead we wound up doing a giant loop through a parking garage that put us right back where we started. At that point, I took charge, and we quickly made it to the train and eventually to out swanky hotel.
I guess I should note that I stayed in a suite with Dan, John, and Joey from Armor Games. Dan flew in on Friday to see some friends, so we were expecting him to be at the hotel and get us access to our room. But apparently he was 20+ minutes away, driving an ’82 pick up truck for some reason. We wait and eventually Dan arrives. Our room appears to be too small for 4 people, so Dan decides to get us a swankier suite with plenty of extra space. And a freakish lack of outlets.
Not too much interesting stuff took place in the room… we were pretty tired from the trip in, and took an hour or two to relax before the party that night. Then I get a phonecall from a developer I know, benologist… except I don’t remember giving him my number. He wants to bring another guy I know, who makes music, to the party. Dan, being the nice guy he is, allows this. Except beno called me from a hotel, didn’t tell me his room number, and I couldn’t remember his last name to get connected to him room from the hotel staff.
We head to the party, which is next door to where last year’s Armor Party was. I volunteered to go with Dan in the ghetto cruiser. Thankfully, I did not die. The party was solid. About 30 people, many of which I knew already… few I didn’t. Had a few beers, some food, good conversation. All in all some good fun. With dinner over, it was off to a nearby bowling alley for some heated competition with big prizes.
Me, being the giant douche that I am, brought one of my bowling balls with me from LA… along with my shoes. This did not wind up helping me, as I bowled like complete crap. But, developers tend to not be the most atheltic people… so I still handily won. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, which was the most important thing anyway. The top 5 scorers were put into a drawing for 5 prizes… basically as a method of preventing me from getting the top prize automatically. I really wanted that NetBook too. Instead, that musician that beno brought along wound up getting it… grrr. On the other hand, I now own a DSi… but apparently it does not come with games? Not sure what to do about this, but I’ll figure it out.
After we finished bowling, we still hung around and talked for a bit at the lanes. Then walked back to our hotel with a drunk Weasel (not the Thing-Thing one, the Frantastic Contraption / Streambirds one). We were going to have a nightcap with him at the hotel bar… sadly it was already closed. He left, and we went up to bed.
Not too bad of a first day, in spite of the 5am wake up. Will have storytime on Day 2 later, along with commentary on FGS.
So after all this type and posts and whatnot… the game is now out. Play it. Post comments telling me your thoughts on it.
If you need assistance (you probably will… the game is harder than the first!), try this.
Ever wondered what it would be like to work side-by-side with one of your favorite developers and create a game? Well, with This Is The Only Levels 2 slated for release tomorrow, these are my thoughts from the process:
Developing games, when you don’t have to do any of the grunt work, is REALLY fun. I got to come up with a ton of really fun levels and assist with the entire creative process throughout development… without having to do any of that pesky “work”, like coding or making graphics.
A lot more goes into a game than just code and art. Besides all the creative stuff, which we pretty much hammered out on the 1st day, all of this stuff needed to be done as well: UI for the menu and other off-menu screens, game save system, high scores, bonus modes, and API implementation.
It’s amazing how many bugs pop up in the oddest areas. This is something I already know, from all the testing work I do… but that is all AFTER the dev QAs his game. In a game as simple as TITOL2 (same engine as last game, just new levels), we easily found 20 bugs. From a certain level having an unexpected exploit to the save file not wiping deaths when you clear your level progress, and everything in between.
You can’t get too attached to any one idea. Given unlimited time, John could code any crazy level that I came up with… but one level we wanted to use left gravity for the level, so you’d have to jump from left to right on the edges of the platforms to reach the exit. Sadly, the engine (which John said could DEFINITELY handle left/right gravity) did not like this idea. I wasn’t given the full explanation, but it would have taken a lot of time to mess with the engine to get this 1 level to work. Better solution was just to use a different level idea that didn’t make the original cut. One other level that we liked wound up not being nearly as fun in actuality as it was in my head… so again, we tweaked it… and now it’s one of my favorite levels.
Don’t rush the process. The first TITOL took John 12 hours, start to finish. So going in to this project, I thought it would take 2 or 3 days, tops, for this one. It’ll wind up being released on the morning of the 10th day. There’s a lot more extra features in this game, and my level designs are a bit more complex than what was in the first game. Combine that with the AS2 to AS3 conversion… and a 1-day game becomes a 2-week game. At the same time, you don’t want to take TOO much time… when you think everything has been found and is ready, let it loose. I’m really nervous that we’ve overlooked something, or some major bug will pop up as soon as it’s released… but, if that happens, we’ll know about it soon enough. Not much more we can do about it now.
Altogether, this was so much fun. I hope that all of you guys wind up enjoying the game as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it. And give insane props to John… all the little things he puts into games are what makes them great, not my level designs. The UI, the elephant, the polka music, and a dozen other things that I won’t mention so that you can discover them all tomorrow.
I’ve started work on Tass Approved GAMES, the portal side of this site. So far, I have 1 game up for you… a personal favorite… This Is The Only Level by jmtb02. I’ll make sure to keep everyone up to date as I continue to add more games to the site (I’ve got about 70 picked out so far). As I’ve mentioned, I’m open to suggestions on future games to add. I’m also open to suggestions and constructive criticism for the page layouts. So please post comments telling me what you like, what you don’t, and why.
To go along with the games, I’ve added a walkthrough section to the site. I’ll try to add a walkthrough for every game… even if I didn’t make it.
Thanks and enjoy TITOL! A small fairy has told me to be on the lookout for a sequel in the coming weeks. PLAY THIS IS THE ONLY LEVEL NOW.