Indie Game Development - "Having fun, making fun"

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dev Log - Visual Effects

Last month I completed all the special effects in the game.  Although I used both 2d and 3d particle effects in Ultimate Dodgeball and Kick'n It using the effects system provided by Microsoft in the XNA code samples, I quickly realized I would need something more.  With three character classes and upgradable powers there are simply a LOT of special effects in the game.  Rendering that many particles would simple slow the game down to a crawl. 

In addition, there were types of effects I  wanted to do that the Microsoft samples were not designed to handle.  Luckily I discovered DPSF particle system.  While this particle system doesn't run on the GPU like the Microsoft system, it enabled me to control the orientation of a particle instead of always having it face the camera.  Therefore, I could make lightning, shimmers, walls of flame and portals.  Best of all, it supports animated particles. 

Now, instead of rendered hundreds or thousands of particles for a single effect, I could use another great tool - the TimelineFX Editor to create an awesome particle effect and export it as a sprite sheet.  I could then display that animation in-game on a single animated particle, saving performance.

Discovering these resources and methods not only enabled me to complete a much larger number of particle effects, but to step up the quality at the same time.  I'm excited to see what people think when I enter focus testing.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ultimate Dodgeball on the Xbox 360 Dashboard!

I just received another early Christmas gift from Microsoft this week.  Ultimate Dodgeball is being featured on the Xbox 360 Dashboard!  Last year Microsoft featured it on their big promo spot and it shot up to 2nd place on the best selling chart.  This year it received the smaller promo spot, so it will be interesting to see where it ends up on the sales chart.  So far, it has risen from around #30 to #7, but I think it will keep going.  A big thanks to Microsoft for the exposure!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bringing Programming to our School District

Last summer I met with our school district's superintendent and shared the video I made for him, and expressed my passion for providing programming opportunities for every elementary student.  He was very receptive, and I agreed to do further research on resources that would extend programming instruction into junior high, as well as for app creation. 

I presented my recommendations in a follow-up meeting with his team, and he asked if I would create a series of workshops to train teachers how to teach programming with Hopscotch and Scratch, in addition to a seminar to introduce principals to the Hour of Code.

In just a couple weeks I will be introducing the Hour of Code to principals in our district.  I'm very excited, and hopeful that they will adopt the Hour of Code at their schools.  Last year I taught 130 kids how to make their own programs, but this year thousands of students in our district can discover computer programming.