April 21, 2014


The Best Conference I’ve Ever Been To #ELSummit14

from GBGames

Last year, I went to the Extreme Leadership Intensive here in Des Moines, IA. I met Steve Farber, who is not only the author of The Radical Leap and founder of the Extreme Leadership Institute, but he’s also a real down-to-earth guy.

Extreme Leadership can be summed up as “do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.” It’s about the challenge of changing the world, whether that’s the entire world or the world of your customers, company, or co-workers.

It’s about love, which many other leadership books would call vision or passion. You can’t do your best work if your heart isn’t in it. And you won’t be able to generate the enthusiasm from other people who might otherwise be willing to support your endeavor.

And it’s about the fear. If you’re not doing something that scares you, then you’re not living up to your full potential, which means you’re holding back in this one life you have to live. If you’re doing what you love, then it is intensely personal, and it should scare you and everyone else that you’re trying to make a difference. Otherwise, you’re not leading.

Love and fear? It’s the exhilaration you feel in interplay between these opposites that shows you that you’re doing what you should in life. If you let fear get in the way, however, you’ll have a different experience.

Larry Smith talks about it in this TED talk on why you will fail to have a great career:

So, a couple of weekends ago, I went to the Extreme Leadership Summit, which Farber has repeatedly said would be a unique experience. It wouldn’t be a passive conference, with sales pitches and feel-good platitudes that leave you no better off than when you arrived. It would prove to be interactive and challenging, practical and immediate, and full of amazing and approachable people who are walking the talk in their own lives.

Extreme Leadership Summit 2014

And as a result, I think it was the best conference I’ve ever been to. And I’ve been to GDC, which is a spectacle onto itself. I’m still processing everything I learned and experienced a week later.

Day 1: Deepening Your Leadership Foundation

The first speaker was Simon Billsberry, and his presentation was all about answering the question of whether or not being an entrepreneur is the same as being an extreme leader. He said, “Entrepreneurs know who they are” and talked about how he plans to help accelerate the pace of change in we had a discussion afterwards about the nature of entrepreneurship. It was too bad he was sick for the rest of the summit because I was looking forward to hearing more.

Billsberry said the fundamental leadership question is “What can I do, right now, regardless of what others around here are or are not doing, to change my piece of this world/company/organization for the better?”

Chad Coe is a wealth management expert who wrote The Power of Peopletizing: Networking Your Way to an Abundant Life, which was provided for free in the goodie bag at the summit. He spoke quite a bit about how connecting with others and maintaining relationships with them can result in so much capacity to help.

Coe has a big philanthropic streak in him. He organized his work time to ensure he can not only spend time with his family but can also participate in a number of charities, many of which he founded with the idea of “If you want something, create it.”

He gave many inspiring examples of the amount of help he is able to provide due to the way he motivates his relationships. For the three days of the summit, our tables at lunch were our mastermind groups, something else he strongly advocates for, and everyone had a fascinating story to tell about their experience and their struggles, and everyone had actionable advice to give.

Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS magazine and author of The Compound Effect, talked about the power of repeated, consistent actions on achieving your goals. He said that the secret to success is in three words: “hard frickin’ work.” He gave the example of doubling the grains of rice each day for 60 days as evidence for how subtle yet powerful the compound effect is. After 10 days, you’d only have 512 grains, and at 20 you’d have 524,288, but at 30? You’d have 536,870,912.

He then talked about how many of our beneficial activities, such as exercising or investing, don’t pay off immediately. We don’t have immediate consequences for eating dessert for dinner or being lazy on the couch on evening, but over 20 years, daily dessert and laziness results in health issues. Similarly, having a fight with your spouse and going to bed angry once doesn’t immediately result in divorce, but resentment and disappointment builds up over time before it comes to a head.

He gave an example with three otherwise similar people who get the same job. One does what he always did. One eats just 250 calories less a day, walks 250 extra steps a day, reads for 15 minutes and listens to inspiring audio for 30 minutes at the start of his day, etc. The last one eats 250 extra calories a day, walks 250 fewer steps a day, and otherwise does the opposite of the second guy. After only six months, you wouldn’t see a difference between them, which is what frustrates people and makes magic pills and diets and secrets to success so appealing to them. The results aren’t immediate. Drinking water instead of eating chocolate cake basically feels like you’re just missing out on delicious cake.

But after five years? The three have such different experiences from each other. One has read hundreds of books and listened to hundreds of positive and inspiring audio programs and has lost tens of pounds of weight as a result of eating less and exercising more. The other gained weight and has the health issues that come with a sedentary lifestyle, and he has learned a lot less, resulting in less interesting prospects for his life. The compound effects of your small choices sneak up on you to create big results. Another way to put it is that you either pay for your results through discipline or through regret. Missing out on that chocolate cake now sounds like a more freeing and enjoyable life is possible.

Day 2: Amplifying Your Life Experience

The next morning, Pamela Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, said that your purpose in life is to create a body of work that you are proud of. She had incredible enthusiasm for the stories we each had, since creating a body of work starts with our roots and the identification of our skills and experience. Who we are drives what we’re passionate about, and being true to it is the only way we can really tell our story. And she signed my copy of her recent book, Body of Work. B-)

Pete Luongo, retired CEO of The Berry Company, signed my copy of his book, 10 Truths About Leadership…It’s Not Just About Winning. He talked about how so much of what they realized and developed years ago to turn around the company, and what businesses literature has covered decades prior, has come into vogue recently, such as focusing on the customer. He said to me the day before, “Franco, it’s all common sense.”

Frank DeAngelis didn’t leave a dry eye in the room as he shared his experience as Principal of Columbine High School. It’s now 15 years after the tragedy, and he talked about his efforts since to reach out to all students and to ensure that he can see everyone who was in elementary school on the day of the shooting walk across the stage as a graduate of the high school, which was accomplished a few years ago. He got a standing ovation, and I’m sure his school will miss his passion and enthusiasm for the children and their education when he retires.

Janet Bray Attwood, author of The Passion Test and member of my mastermind group during the summit, has an infectious excitement about her. My favorite quote from her presentation: “When you are faced with a choice, decision, or opportunity, choose in favor of your passions.” Between that thought and the idea of talking about the higher purpose of your work, what you really do, I thought it was the most subtle and challenging mode of operation mentioned. As part of her presentation, she had us administer the Passion Test to a fellow participant, and I found it surprisingly clarifying.

To wrap up the day, Jay Jay French, manager and guitarist of Twisted Sister, shared his life and business lessons as the group persevered for a decade before signing a record deal, which once again demonstrated that everyone has an interesting story to tell. He also participated in my mastermind group for one day, talking about where he wants to grow next since the band is still playing concerts today, decades later.

That night, there was what Farber jokingly referred to as the real reason for the Summit: the Extreme Jam Session and Open Mic. Attendees and speakers were invited to perform and sing. I sang one song, Long Cool Woman by The Hollies, and I got to hear some really talented musicians have a great time on stage.

Day 3: Transforming Your Results at Work

The final day started with the magic of Andrew Bennett. He was a personal assistant of Ross Perot, became a member of The Magic Circle, and is a leadership consultant and coach. Using illusions to wow us, he shared with us that transformation happens in three ways: appearance (revealing the truth), disappearance (concealing a deeper truth), and restoration (replacing something with something of greater value). These three transformations occur through six creative powers: inspiration, words, self-awareness, relationships, authenticity, and mastery. He learned during research for a blog post that the seemingly silly and popular magic word “Abracadabra” is actually Aramaic for “What I speak is what I create,” which was relevant to the power of words to restrict or unleash creativity. He gave each attendee an orange wristband with the word and translation.

Phil Town is the author of Rule #1, a book about a simple investing strategy. I have to admit that I initially got quite interested in his presentation, which explained how mutual funds are a bad deal since you are paying managers who consistently can’t seem to beat the market on returns, which is something I already knew which is why I’m more interested in index funds if I had to choose. He explained that consistently successful investors exist, such as Warren Buffett, and their success is based on simple strategies.

He also talked about the idea that where you invest your money equates to your support for those investments. For example, if you don’t smoke and don’t want your children to smoke, why would you invest in any of most mutual funds since it means you’ll necessarily have money supporting the source of most cigarettes in the market? Makes sense to me, and I know people who won’t invest in index funds because it means investing in weapon manufacturers, for instance.

That said, I found myself feeling a bit strange. Here we were at this amazing conference being told consistently that identifying your love and passion is key, and it seemed most people in the audience were getting the most excited about the idea of relatively easy and consistently high returns in the stock market. Granted, Town’s wealth opens up quite the capacity to give back and live an abundant life, and he talked about investing only in companies that match your values. Still, it felt very much like I was ultimately getting a pitch to subscribe to his service which provides the info to make investment decisions the way he described. Talking to my mastermind group, it seemed I might have been alone in that assessment as everyone else felt the offered intensive course in Atlanta to learn the ins and outs of the strategy was an amazing opportunity. I hope it works out for the people who go. I have plans scheduled for that weekend.

Dr. Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist and author of Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom Line Results, and the Power to Deliver Both. Her presentation was about what it takes to create fulfilled teams and exceptional results, that it wasn’t an either-or proposition. When striving for success here, she said you (1) know where you stand, (2) make one change at a time, and (3) be obsessed about relentless, deliberate practice.

We ended the summit with a Q & A speaker panel, and the final good-bye was said with champagne.

Extreme Leadership Summit Speaker Panel

Extreme Conclusions

There were a few themes that kept coming up throughout the summit. One was the idea of being clear on your why, both for yourself and for the people around you.

Another was the idea that your adversity is your advantage, that your past developed muscles, not wounds.

Another was the idea of being conscious and deliberate with your life. Whether it is investing or how you choose to spend time with your family, being fully aware of what you are doing and the consequences is the only moral thing to do.

Most of the speakers also attended the summit. They weren’t just there to talk and leave. I had conversations with quite a few of them, as they were all quite approachable and ready to connect. A few made supportive comments when they learned I wanted to make educational entertainment to encourage creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking.

In fact, quite a few attendees, many who are educators, came up to me and expressed their support, offering advice or asking for more information. The idea of talking about what you really do, that everyone has an interesting story to share, and that you should choose in favor of your passion seemed to pay off immediately.

Steve Farber and the lovely Dianne Kenny were at both the intensive and this summit, and it was good to see them again. Kenny is very clearly a fun and positive person to be around, and she celebrated her birthday with us on the first day. I’m not sure how many people chose water over the delicious cake that was provided.

One thing that struck me was how warm the summit was. When Farber thanked everyone who was involved in making the summit a success, I realized it was very much a family-run business. I met his wife who I had only spoken with on the phone, and she recognized my name and gave me a hug. It seemed many of the people behind the scenes were related in some way. Everyone had an enthusiasm that demonstrated how much they believed in what the organization stands for.

And that’s probably the biggest thing I took away. I thought a lot about what impact I’m having in the world. Based on how I spend my time and where I expend my effort, am I similarly demonstrating how much I believe in what I stand for? Or am I allowing fear and momentum to hold me back, doing a disservice to myself and to the countless people who might be positively impacted by my efforts if I only focused and dedicated more time to it?

And that kind of deep questioning is why I think the Extreme Leadership Summit was the best conference I have ever attended.

The Best Conference I’ve Ever Been To #ELSummit14 is a post from: GBGames - Thoughts on Indie Game Development



April 20, 2014


Incitement

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Windows — Incitement Matthew Ashworth brings his RPG Maker skills to light in his science fiction RPG title for download, Incitement. Play Maddock, a human who leads an unlikely group of humanoids (not all carbon-based) to uncover the greasy underbelly of their mixed race society. Battle your way through enemies to slowly reveal the story as you make choices that will affect the outcome through 10 hours of gameplay. Tagged as: adventure, download, free, game, indie, mashworth, rating-o, rpg, rpgmaker, scifi, turnbased, windows




Doyu Hexcontrol

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Doyu Hexcontrol Simple or simply insane? As easy as this new hexagon-based puzzle board game may seem at first glance, it can be infuriatingly challenging to master. Learn against the computer AI or challenge other players to a match as you carve out your space on the board and mark the dots. Tagged as: board, browser, doyugames, flash, free, game, hexagon, linux, mac, puzzle, rating-g, simpleidea, strategy, windows




Circus Level Pack

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Circus Level Pack The most physics-puzzley show on Earth gets an additional thirty levels in this clownish expansion pack! Help the little green monster guy put on a show to get the audience out of their seats, using balloons, trampolines, unicycles and more. Thirty levels of circus-themed fun await you, without that off-putting smell of elephants and burnt popcorn. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, linux, mac, meetreen, physics, puzzle, rating-g, windows




Space Farmers

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux — Space Farmers The Bumpkin Brothers are back! The team's latest release has nothing to do with Tribloos or machines. Well, wait, scratch that, it does have something to do with machines, but that's not the point! Space Farmers is a decidedly retro-feeling cooperative arcade game that takes place on an alien spacecraft. Two simple farmers have been kidnapped by the non-Earthlings, and they're going to use every gadget and pigcube they can get their hands on to get back! Tagged as: action, arcade, bumpkinbrothers, cooperative, download, game, indie, linux, mac, multiplayer, rating-y, retro, windows



April 19, 2014


The Dangerous GEN-KAN 2

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — The Dangerous GEN-KAN 2 Danger lurks around every corner, literally, in this deadly point-and-click escape game from Kotorinosu. If you want to find a way out, you'll have to search everywhere and solve puzzles, all while avoiding being eaten, exploded, gassed, dropped... Tagged as: browser, escape, flash, free, game, kotorinosu, linux, mac, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, windows




Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Windows — Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death It's Mardi Gras time and the streets of New Orleans are ringing with the sound of sweet, sweet jazz. You're headed down there to visit your dad... and find him and the patrons of his club in a sort of trance. Could it be a voodoo curse? This enchanting, original and thoroughly innovative hidden-object adventure will grab your attention and won't let go, and you can be sure you'll be humming the addictive soundtrack long after you've finished it. Tagged as: adventure, affiliate, casual, collectorsedition, demo, download, game, hiddenobject, madheadgames, puzzle, rating-g, windows




Monster Squad

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Monster Squad Vicious monsters have invaded the kingdom. Good thing the Monster Squad is here to help sort them out! Six distinct heroes, fierce weapons, mystic spells, and battalions of baddies await you in this browser-based role-playing game. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, linux, mac, monsterplay, rating-y, rpg, turnbased, windows




Hellspin

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Hellspin Unique controls make this game a hard challenge as you dodge simple things like walls to try and reach the exit. Attempt the collect the stars for extra pain, but pure victory if you succeed. Clicking once lets you slow down time, but it is limited. Touching any walls is certain death. Tagged as: browser, deqaf, flash, free, game, highdifficulty, linux, mac, rating-g, skill, windows



April 18, 2014


Fly Catbug Fly!

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Android — Fly Catbug Fly! From Pendleton Ward's webseries Bravest Warriors, it's Catbug starring in his own game! Fly through locales from the show collecting a plethora of items and toss 'em into portals to make money! Purchase fancy power-ups and a stylish new wardrobe! Call in Chris, Beth, Wallow and Danny to help you out! Fly, Catbug, Fly! Tagged as: action, android, arcade, cartoonhangover, game, ios, ipad, iphone, jumpandrun, ludoko, mobile, rating-y, tablet, upgrade




Monkey GO Happy Easter

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Monkey GO Happy Easter There are one hundred eggs hiding in this cute and colourful point-and-click puzzle game, but finding all of them won't be easy! Search and solve simple puzzles to bring smiles to the monkeys on this tastiest of holidays. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, linux, mac, monkeygohappy, pencilkids, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, windows




Golden Krone Hotel

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript — Golden Krone Hotel You may think your objective in this dungeoncrawling turn-based RPG is straightforward--steal the Golden Krone and kill the Vampire Prince. But it's not as easy as it seems, and whether you are human or vampire becomes a complex issue as you move from floor to floor in the Golden Krone Hotel. Tagged as: browser, dungeoncrawler, game, humbit, javascript, linux, mac, rating-y, retro, roguelike, rpg, vampires, windows



April 17, 2014


Super Planet Crash

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Super Planet Crash Crash planets with Kepler...or, you know, have fun with physics and learn a little bit about the solar system. This webtoy gives you your very own solar system to plan, and 500 years of elapsed time to try to keep it stable. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, linux, mac, physics, rating-g, stefanomeschiari, webtoy, windows




Dark Strokes: The Legend of Snow Kingdom Walkthrough

from Casual Game Guides

Our Dark Strokes: The Legend of the Snow Kingdom Walkthrough is complete and prepared to lead you through this captivating hidden object adventure game. Use our detailed instructions, custom screenshots, and puzzle solutions to guide Alan as he searches for a way to free Adele and save the kingdom from its icy attackers.
 



» Dark Strokes: The Legend of Snow Kingdom Walkthrough & Forum

» Dark Strokes: The Legend of Snow Kingdom Free Trial & Related Games




Origins: Elders of Time Review

from Casual Game Guides

In Origins: Elders of Time, Lisa White was told her father was tragically lost at sea, washed away by the merciless waves as he was searching for the location of a mysterious island with his brother, James. Now, more than 20 years later, Lisa discovers her father's diary and the truth that has been kept from her all these years - her father had found the island! Now, it's up to you to travel to this hidden location and uncover the secrets it holds on its silent shores.
 



» Origins: Elders of Time Walkthrough & Forum

» Origins: Elders of Time Free Trial & Related Games




Red Warrior

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Red Warrior When the villagers are captured, it's up to one little ninja to save the day... with world-flipping powers! Swap the world around you in this beautiful and polished puzzle platformer to get past baddies, lasers, ice, and much, much more. Tagged as: action, browser, flash, free, game, lampogolovi, linux, mac, physics, platform, puzzle, rating-g, windows



April 16, 2014


The Earl Octopusor

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — The Earl Octopusor Miss Libellule has faced the Queen of Snakes, but now she's in for a watery challenge when a desperate note takes her deep under the sea in the search for two star-crossed lovers and a pile of treasure in this point-and-click adventure. Tagged as: adventure, browser, flash, free, game, jo99, kronsilds, linux, mac, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-y, windows




Mummies Escape

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Flash — Mummies Escape Play as Tom Jones, one of the greatest explores who was only just a head, as well as his rag tag group of friends to help undo the curse you released. Dodge blow darts, spikes, and more to collect the jewels in this physics game, before pushing the mummies back into eternal rest. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, ios, ipad, iphone, ipodtouch, linux, mac, mdemonte, mobile, physics, rating-g, skill, tablet, timing, windows




The CGG Guide Report

from Casual Game Guides

The CGG team has been busy this week working on many of your walkthrough requests! Here's just a quick recap of all the game guides you can expect from our team in the next few days.
 




Weekday Escape N°19

from Jay Is Games

Weekday Escape N°19 Games featured this week: Escape from the Room with Public Phones; Candy Rooms No.7: Carmine Pop; Yana Escape — Are you bored? When you look around the room you're in, are you tired of the same old look? Time for a new design and a fresh way of looking at things, then. Escape from those worn out interiors and let Hottategoya inspire you to be a minimalist, get groovy with FunkyLand, or relax in pleasant pastels with Kamokichi, our three featured designers in this week's Weekday Escape! Tagged as: blog, browser, escape, funkyland, game, hottategoya, kamokichi, weekday-escape



April 15, 2014


Dark Strokes: The Legend of Snow Kingdom Review

from Casual Game Guides

Dark Strokes: The Legend of the Snow Kingdom will take you on a magical journey through a kingdom set upon by legions of ice knights in search of the young girl, Adele, who just so happens to have found her way into the care of a young hunter named Alan. Now, you must help Alan save Adele and the rest of the kingdom in this captivating hidden object adventure game!
 


» Dark Strokes: The Legend of Snow Kingdom Walkthrough & Forum

» Dark Strokes: The Legend of Snow Kingdom Free Trial & Related Games




Sphear

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Sphear The first thing every general needs to know to defend their planet is strategy. Also, a good grasp of physics, mathematics, and... pool! Pick your angle and take a shot to defend the world against evil space invaders in this clever game! Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, math, physics, pool, potatoonthetable, rating-g, scifi, strategy




Escape from the Round Room

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Escape from the Round Room A well-deserved weekend getaway doesn't end when you expect it to, when you find yourself locked inside the newest escape game by Tesshi-e, where puzzles and clues both logical and obscure are the best amenities you can find in this little lodge. Tagged as: browser, escape, flash, free, game, linux, mac, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, tesshi-e, windows




Dead Zed 2

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Dead Zed 2 Pick up your gun and stand against oncoming waves on zombies in this realistic shooter, then manage your group of survivors to scavenge and help defend in between, holding out as long as you can! Tagged as: 3kggames, action, browser, flash, free, game, horror, mac, rating-o, shooter, simulation, survival, windows, zombies




Where Is My Beard?

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Where Is My Beard? Feeling beardless? Spread some bearded love in this humorous physics puzzle game. Arrange blocks so that after you hit play, they'll all be touched by another shape that has some facial hair, thus spreading happiness throughout the land. Because everyone wants a beard. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, keenblaze, linux, mac, physics, puzzle, rating-g, windows



April 14, 2014


North Wind: Trill of Consciousness

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iPad — North Wind: Trill of Consciousness North Wind: Trill of Consciousness by Henry Gosuen is a creative take on the platform exploration genre. You control the tiny hero named Dir who moves through a blocky world of spikes and obstacles and maze-like puzzles. Instead of scrolling levels that keep pace with the protagonist, though, you do all the swiping yourself from a stationary point of view. It's a bit like Office Rush, Rooms or Continuity, only with a decidedly sweeter metroidvania feel. Tagged as: action, adventure, game, hgosuen, ios, ipad, metroidvania, microtransactions, mobile, platform, rating-y, tablet




Podcast

from GameDevBlog

I was on a new podcast. "Jamie Frinstrom from Happion Labs who is here to talk about 2 games he has coming out over the next few months as well as answering some of our questions." http://www.the-cloud.name/white-noise-online-show-02/




Fishy Waters

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Fishy Waters When her father is swallowed whole by the kraken, our heroine vows to get him back in this cute but simple arcade style fishing simulator! Travel the seas, catching different fish and selling them for the upgrades you need to take you farther. Tagged as: action, arcade, browser, fishing, flash, free, fvdommelen, game, ivdijk, jvleeuwen, linux, mac, rating-g, simpleidea, simulation, upgrades, windows




Together Alone: Love in Limbo

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Together Alone: Love in Limbo What started out as a simpler, shorter puzzle game with a sweet love story has been revised into a more substantial—and snarkier—endeavor for fans and newcomers alike. Help Ben and Isabelle navigate through limbo in more than 75 levels of diverse and complex tile-removing puzzles. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, grosengarten, jniestadt, linux, mac, narrative, puzzle, qwokgames, rating-y, windows




Picross Madness

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Picross Madness Rejoice, picross aficionados! Picross Madness brings you a whopping 620 levels of all shapes and sizes! Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, linux, logic, mac, mdeak, picross, puzzle, rating-g, windows




Learning Game Software Architecture

from GBGames

Note: I wrote a significant amount of this post in 2011, back when I was actively working on Stop That Hero!, and enough still resonates today that I decided to publish it.

It’s only in the last few years that I’ve started to appreciate the importance of software architecture, and especially as I write the game engine for “Stop That Hero!” Before “STH!”, I haven’t had much experience with writing entire programs from scratch. Most of the code I’ve written professionally fit into an existing framework or architecture, so high level architectural work wasn’t something I had to worry about in my day-to-day work.

Beginner Programmer Woes

When I first learned how to program, I was focused on getting the syntax correct. Programs, even if they were completely original and not copied out of a book or magazine, were simple. More complex programs usually didn’t get finished before I lost interest. Any non-trivial programs that were successfully completed were the epitome of what we in the biz call “spaghetti code,” which means I was lucky to get something working at all. See my Pac-man clone in QBasic as an example of what teaching yourself how to program can result in.

Then I got to college, and I learned C++, and concepts such as recursion and stacks and objects. I was still using QBasic as a hobby, and my new code was definitely cleaner, but I struggled with putting everything together in a cohesive whole. And programming on a modern OS required a message pump, which meant I had to change the way I did things drastically. You couldn’t add empty loops if you needed a delay anymore.

Ok, so most likely, you’ve been there before, too. My story above isn’t unique. Lots of programmers went from DOS to a multitasking OS. The thing is, I think I fell behind in terms of learning how to program in this new world order. When I stopped using QBasic, I didn’t write a lot of C++ code outside of class requirements until I nearly had my degree. It turned out that I learned C++ wrong at first, which is why I didn’t enjoy programming in it as much as I did with QBasic. Once I read Accelerated C++ by Koenig and Moo, it made a lot more sense and was a joy to work with. That book is a great way to learn C++ for a beginner. Even though C++11 has since been released, I still highly recommend the book today.

Program Design Is Hard

But it still didn’t change the fact that larger applications were hard to make. If I knew what class or function was needed, I could write the code just fine. It was determining what class or function was needed that was the hard part. Or to put it another way, I struggled with “where should this code live” questions. Basically, software architecture was hard, and I didn’t know it was even a thing to be concerned about. Heck, years ago, I was concerned with how to put together a basic game loop. Solving that problem means I had everything I needed, right?

What I knew about game engines is based on what I read. Countless books and articles broke down the anatomy of a game engine by talking about its subsystems: audio, video, input, networking, etc. At the time, I believed this subsystem knowledge was enough to make a game. If you had a way to render to a screen and detect input, you had the bare basics to make a game. It’s just a matter of implementation, right?

Since I taught myself QBasic, and my first projects we isolated endeavors, I thought I knew how to put a piece of software together. I was able to put together an entire game, so how hard could it be? After all, they don’t give 70% reviews to just any QBasic games, right? I’ve even managed to put together complete Ludum Dare entries.

Why Is Everyone Else So Much Faster?

But I was also aware that some of the other Ludum Dare participants were able to make their entries way more impressive within hours of starting than my games end up by the deadline. Ludum Dare was historically a “write your game from scratch” competition, so it’s not as if they had full game engines available (although that’s changed with Unity entries). What was I missing?

Well, experience, for one. Some of those impressive entries are made by people who have been making games for way longer than I have. Even if we started at the same time, I haven’t been working on as many games as they have. They might have worked in the game industry and so know how to make games on a deadline. Even if they didn’t have game dev experience, they might have worked on financial software. Either way, they’ve likely written a lot more code than I have, so putting the software together to implement their game designs is possibly second nature.

Another thing people seem to have is boiler-plate code, such as code for menus, buttons, and sprites. XNA users have a huge advantage here, and Unity users are practically cheating. As I run and deploy to GNU/Linux, neither option is available to me, and since I work in 2D, there aren’t a lot of game engines available. A lot of the libraries that I could piece together also don’t fit my needs. Either they do things in a way I don’t want to do (GUIchan versus IMGUI), or they are not cross-platform. Instead, since my first Ludum Dare, I’ve written a lot of boilerplate code as I needed it. Each competition, I created more and more base code to leverage for the next project.

But I was oblivious to some of the fundamental architecture needs of a game engine, and so I still struggled to put together a finished, playable game in 48 hours. After all, the subsystems were everything. Just tie input to what’s happening in the game, and make sure the player can see feedback on the screen. Why is this so hard?

Learning Software Architecture

Most people will tell you to get a copy of the book Design Patterns by the Gang of Four. It’s a great book and features a number of patterns. Now, if you want to refresh yourself on what a pattern entails, it’s fine, but it isn’t great for learning about them in the first place.

I found Head First Design Patterns to be a great, easy-to-read introduction to major patterns.

But patterns knowledge isn’t enough to know how to organize a major software project. If I want to be able to provide a single interface to a bunch of disparate pieces of code, the Facade pattern is what I need. But what about determining that I need a single interface to those pieces of code in the first place?

And Test-Driven Development is supposed to be about code design. By writing tests, you already have a user of the code you’re writing, so you know how to design the functions and interfaces. TDD can help you design a single class, but it’s not going to help you drive the design of a full application. More and more, I realize that my lack of experience with writing larger applications is making my TDD efforts more of a struggle than they need to be. Uncle Bob Martin wrote about this topic in TDD Triage (the link has since died):

Here’s the bottom line. You cannot derive a complete architecture with TDD. TDD can inform some of your architectural decisions, but you cannot begin a project without an architectural vision. So some up front architecture is necessary. One of the most important up front architectural activities is deciding which architectural elements can be deferred and which cannot.

So patterns and TDD aren’t enough. Some architecture decisions are necessary, and I hadn’t made any. No wonder I had trouble in the past!

Conclusion

Ok, it’s 2014 again. Since 2011 when I first wrote this post, I’ve learned quite a bit about software architecture and designing software. Experience is one of the greatest teachers.

I’ve learned to focus on the data flow. Where does data come from, and where is it heading? I’ve learned to focus on what large pieces I need and worry about how to hook them up to each other later. I’ve learned how to separate the GUI from the internals, and that each has their own massive design decisions to worry about. I’ve learned that software architecture is less about the overall design of a software project as much as it is about the constraints on it.

I also learned that software architecture concerns don’t come into play as much if you are hacking together quick prototypes, but addressing the major software constraints can be huge if you intend to have a reusable set of code to use from project to project.

I’ll write more about the specifics in a later post, but it seemed important to document to struggle, especially as I did not identify my lack of knowledge about software architecture as an issue at first.

If you’re an indie developer, what were your major insights into software architecture? Do it come into play for you, or do you find that it isn’t anything to be concerned about in your day to day?

Learning Game Software Architecture is a post from: GBGames - Thoughts on Indie Game Development




Can You Escape - Tower

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Android — Can You Escape - Tower Can You Escape - Tower is a short point-and-click mobile room escape game created by MobiGrow. In what should be a familiar set-up, you find yourself trapped in a series of rooms with exits that are locked, barred, concealed or otherwise inaccessible. Your job is to get out, or throw your phone across the room trying! What sets Can You Escape - Tower apart is its striking sense of adventure. You're not just escaping, you're making an epic dash to freedom through a rendered fantasy world! Tagged as: android, escape, game, ios, ipad, iphone, kindle, mobigrow, mobile, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-y, tablet



April 13, 2014


Pink Hour (Studio Pixel)

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Windows — Pink Hour (Studio Pixel) There are only two words you need to see before downloading this game: Studio Pixel. The creator of Cave Story has been hard at work on the upcoming sidescrolling platformer Kero Blaster, but in the meantime, we get a free game! Pink Hour serves as a small taster for next month's big release, stuffing plenty of shooting, pixel-perfect jumps, and painfully high level of difficulty into its cute little package. Tagged as: action, download, free, game, highdifficulty, indie, platform, playism, rating-y, shooting, studiopixel, windows




Cyberpunk 3776

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Unity — Cyberpunk 3776 Your fight may be futile, but that's no reason not to give it all you have! In this dystopian sci-fi shooter, you're the last man standing against the alien invaders, and you won't go out peacefully... how many can you take with you before you go down in flames? Tagged as: action, browser, free, game, mac, phann, rating-y, scifi, shooter, sidescroller, unity, windows




Please Remain Calm

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Please Remain Calm Do you love that old-school feeling of collecting coins? How about navigating precarious platforms and ledges to reach the exit door? Escape various baddies, maze-like environments and an expanding black hole of doom in this energetic and demanding retro platformer. Tagged as: action, browser, ctincknell, flash, free, game, linux, mac, platform, rating-g, retro, shooter, windows




Cat Game

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Windows — Cat Game When your beloved cat Toby goes missing, you scour the town for him, but little do you suspect you're about to take a strange trip and find out the stranger truth behind cats in this short but cute freeware adventure game. Tagged as: adventure, amitie, download, free, game, halcy, indie, puzzle, rating-y, windows



April 12, 2014


Fix My Car - Custom Mods

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Android — Fix My Car - Custom Mods FireRabbit is back with another car-themed point-and-click puzzle game! Fix My Car - Custom Mods takes the hidden object / room escape hybrid formula from the original Fix My Car and gives it a shiny new coat of acrylic urethane paint. This time, instead of fixing the old clunker you're replacing the old parts with shiny new ones. If only sprucing up the old rustbox was half as straightforward in real life! Tagged as: android, escape, firerabbit, fixmycar, free, game, hiddenobject, ios, ipad, iphone, kindle, mobile, nook, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, tablet




My Little Investigations: True Blue Scootaloo

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux — My Little Investigations: True Blue Scootaloo My Little P.I., My Little P.I., aaa-aa-aaa-aaaaaaahhhh... when Rarity's precious gem is stolen and the only suspect is one tiny Pegasus, it's up to Twilight Sparkle to solve the mystery in this gorgeous free Ace Attorney-styled visual novel adventure based on My Little Pony! Tagged as: adventure, download, equestriandreamers, free, game, indie, linux, mac, mylittlepony, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, visualnovel, windows



April 11, 2014


Surface: Reel Life

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Mac, Windows — Surface: Reel Life When you receive a frantic phone call from your sister that your niece has gone missing, you think you must have misheard her... after all, your niece's dead fiancee appearing out of a movie and carting her back through the screen is impossible... right? Find the truth in this hidden-object adventure! Tagged as: adventure, affiliate, bigfish, casual, demo, download, elephantgames, game, hiddenobject, mac, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-y, windows




Riddles of Fate: Into Oblivion Walkthrough

from Casual Game Guides

Our Riddles of Fate: Into Oblivion Walkthrough is live and ready to help you battle the fierce powers of the seven deadly sins who have taken over the kingdom of Riddlestone. Use our detailed instructions, simple puzzle solutions, and our custom marked screenshots packed into this guide to help you free the royal family from their grasp and banish the sins once and for all.
 



» Riddles of Fate: Into Oblivion Walkthrough & Forum

» Riddles of Fate: Into Oblivion Free Trial & Related Games




White Door Room Escape

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — White Door Room Escape Another day, another room to find yourself inexplicably locked within. Clever puzzles await you within the mysterious room with the white door, and you'll need to find the three wooden tokens to escape this time! Tagged as: browser, escape, flash, free, game, linux, mac, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, windows, yominokagura




Untrusted

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript — Untrusted You're trapped, with only your wits and a computer to help you! Fortunately, that's more than enough, IF you have the knowledge to code your way out of this incredibly sneaky and clever JavaScript puzzle game, where the solution lies in the source... and what you make of it. Tagged as: adventure, anisnevich, browser, coding, free, game, gshuflin, javascript, linux, logic, mac, puzzle, rating-g, windows




The Indie Interview Series

from GBGames

Interview recording equipment

During the last half of 2013, Ben W. Savage conducted The Indie Interview Series “to inspire those who are considering game development” as well as those game developers looking for practical advice.

He asked the same series of questions of everyone, and prominent indies such as Christer “McFunkypants” Kaitila and Chevy Ray “Chevy Ray” Johnston spent anywhere from five minutes to a quarter of an hour answering. The topics ranged from how to get started in the game industry to who were major influences and what are major mistakes new developers make.

Adam “Atomic” Saltsman, creator of Candabalt, suggests that taking too big of a bite is a common problem. “Learning how to do a project is its own discipline … Start small, learn about the process, and then refine. That’s the key.” Nina “[insert nickname here]” Freeman of Code Liberation Foundation agrees in her own answer to the same question, repeating “simple prototypes, simple prototypes, simple prototypes” and suggests working in steps.

These are bite-sized nuggets of wisdom, and I wish there were more.

What’s your favorite interview? Did any of the answers resonate with you?

(Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/39781145@N00/254759786 | CC BY 2.0)

The Indie Interview Series is a post from: GBGames - Thoughts on Indie Game Development




Link Dump Friday N° 367

from Jay Is Games

Link Dump Friday N° 367 Games featured this week: Awesome Mushroom Hunter; Cover Me; Edgar's Dream; Assasseed's Crin — It's Friday, and you know what that means. Creepy redhead ghosts doing some navel gazing. Bashing killer robots when all you want to do is round up some mushrooms. Staggering in bewilderment through an unsettling landscape of pianos and applause. Awwww yeah, now we're cookin'. Tagged as: blog, browser, cmadelon, emittercritter, linkdump



April 10, 2014


Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Android — Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff Peter's town is destroyed, and it's totally not his fault! Blame the giant chicken. But whatever the reason, it's up to you to rebuild it, unlocking tons of characters, items, and hilarious animations along the way. Just keep one hand on your wallet, because this game has its eye on it. Tagged as: android, free, game, ios, ipad, iphone, ipodtouch, microtransactions, mobile, rating-r, simulation, tinyco




Fear for Sale: Phantom Tide Walkthrough

from Casual Game Guides

Our Fear for Sale: Phantom Tide Walkthrough is live and ready to lead you through this chilling paranormal investigation as you search for clues that will tie a watery apparition to the murder of Julia White. Use our detailed, step-by-step instructions, our custom marked screenshots, and our simple puzzle solutions to uncover the dark secrets hidden away in the city of Greenville.
 



» Fear for Sale: Phantom Tide Walkthrough & Forum

» Fear for Sale: Phantom Tide Free Trial & Related Games




Cover Orange Journey: Pirates

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Android, Flash — Cover Orange Journey: Pirates Join your favorite oranges you wouldn't want to eat into a tropical pirate adventure. In this physics puzzler favorite, you've again got to figure out how to tuck the fruit away from exceptionally sharp rain drops by dropping and exploding various objects around each level. Tagged as: android, browser, coverorange, flash, free, game, ipad, iphone, ipodtouch, johnnyk, linux, mac, mobile, physics, puzzle, rating-g, tablet, vladg, windows




How Dare You

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — How Dare You It's time for revenge in this launch game. Run, fly, and jump through three different areas to take out the evil gold fish who disrupted your peace of mind. You play a... half goat half man monk who is just looking for some good old eternal peace when a cruel...cyborg fish does the unthinkable and all that is left for you to do is get cold blooded revenge! Tagged as: action, flash, free, game, launch, linux, mac, rating-y, theshpufa, upgrades, windows




David

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Mac, Windows — David David is a game, an arcade game, and David is a very unusual game. Our little polygon hero finds himself in a world of abstract shapes and giant evil beasts that are out to eviscerate him one angle at a time. His only powers are the ability to run away like a little yellow belly and fire slingshot-like blasts at his foes. Sometimes he feels powerful, sometimes victorious, but there's always nagging feelings of helplessness and hopelessness in this dangerous world that just wants David to go away. Tagged as: abstract, arcade, download, fermenter, game, indie, ios, ipad, iphone, mac, mobile, rating-y, surreal, tablet, windows



April 09, 2014


Night Lights: After Dark

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Night Lights: After Dark They say everything is better with a friend, so the sequel to the original shadowy puzzle platformer has started up the buddy system. Using light to reveal or banish walls and hazards, you must make your way to the exit in each level, turning on light to lure your newfound companion to press switches and more for you. Tagged as: bombocracker, browser, flash, free, game, linux, mac, platform, puzzle, rating-g, windows