Thursday, June 7, 2007

I'm with Fred...are you?

Well, looks like my man Fred Thompson may be running for President.

I have to say that this is something I’ve been hoping for. I feel that Thompson can revive the Conservative movement…and the movement is where it’s at and what is important. is his site. I would encourage everyone to sign up AFTER they do some checking about what Fred is about.

The website is fine. The design is solid enough for what it is (thank God there is no Flash!) but it holds zero information about what Thompson believes but maybe that’ll change as he gets into the race.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Can not survive on games alone

Well, I guess I’m not gonna be writing about games alone now…but I wont be changing the name of the blog or getting a new one…to much work.

I through my lot in with a start up media company. A start up you say? Yeah but I know these guys. It was started by a couple of my oldest friends. Todd and Marty.

The company is called East Avenue Marketing. As of now there is no web page. No business cards. Nothing.

But there are clients. More than a few. That’s a testament to Marty and his salesmanship skills.

Todd and I will be putting up an interim website in the very near future and last week I did the logo…eh, it’s an ok logo. Im not really a graphics artist but I dabble.

Anyway, my role is becoming one of direction and management. See, EAM is going to offer the entire package. Advertising, production, marketing, tv ads, sales digital ads (interweb) and artistic design i.e. logos, letterheads, web design etc etc. That’s where I come in.

What I’m doing is gathering together a group of individuals with talent. 2d artists, 3d artists and web programmers. When we, EAM, acquires a contract, and if Marty sold to them the idea that they need a new logo, Ill contact one of my people in the talent pool of freelance artists and ask them if they want the contract for X$/hr. If they say yes I will give them the information they need to know. I.e. what the client wants, the artistic style, their vision of the logo etc. The freelancer has X amount of time to get X# composites ready to show the client. From there the client will pick one and ask for modifications. The clients wishes go back to the freelancer and it goes back and forth a number of times till the client is satisfied….then they pay up and I pay the freelancer.
Seems easy enough, eh? We’ll see….

Thursday, November 30, 2006

If I were to write a game development application…

I’m no programmer. I can’t program English without a spell checker. But if I were, or if I knew one *wink*, this is what I’d do.

I would come at it head on to make it as easy and intuitive as possible. I’ve never made games in an office environment. Everything I’ve done so far has been remote. Working with guys from other states and nations.

That being said, I’d want something that would help me in that regard as opposed to one that may help me in an office environment.

Look and Feel.

The first thing I would design is a user interface that looks like a desktop. Why? We all use a desktop of one form or another. We’re all familiar with the concept so a desktop interface in a window that you could maximize, scale, and minimize would be necessary. A virtual desktop would be indispensable.

Database, file storage, etc.

Games are files. Nothing more. Sound, art, code etc. This app would need to have the ability to allow users to swap, transfer, back up, and store files.

This would also necessitate that the app is hosted on a server someplace. While I would personally like to avoid this, I can not see any way around it.

It would work this way:

You and I both have our game development application on our computers. I run the program and right click on the virtual desktop. From it I have several choices and the one I need at the moment is “create new folder.” I create a new folder titled “Game docs”. I then take a word document that I wrote in MS Word earlier (titled “Game Design 1.0”) and I simply drag it from my pc file system into my new folder on my virtual desktop. At this point it is uploaded to our server.

Now it’s your turn.

You come home and run the game development app. You log on and the program communicates with the central server looking for changes. It notices that I uploaded “Game Design 1.0”. It would actually tell you Charles uploaded a new file at 12:00 PM titled “Game Design 1.0”. Would you like to download it?

So you would check the boxes of all the newly uploaded files and they would download to the appropriate locations. Basically you and I would have identical game apps keeping us on the exact same page of music!

Downloading all the files isn’t necessary. If the users choice. A texture artist doesn’t need to download and read the document on game AI but he can if he wants.

This system would also log which users have what and this can be looked at periodically by anyone. “Does Dave have the game design doc?” I may ask. So I check. “Hmm..he must have missed it. I better send off a memo to him….”


The Memo.
Communication is paramount. It is the most important aspect of game development and it is also the most difficult concept to grasp and to make work for you and your team.

That being said, within this desktop the users would be able to write memos.

The memos could be directed at one individual, several individuals, or the entire team. You could also write memos to yourself i.e. “don’t forget to design the to hit/ to would/ kill system for the programmer!”

When you received a memo it would be present on your desktop when you next logged on [u]so you would be sure to see it[/u]. Kind of like a Post-It Note. Best of all, from a producers perspective, you’d have to physically click the “I read it.” box to make it disappear. This will ensure that you read it and let the sending party know that it was read.

The Forum.
I’ve found that forums have always been the best way to communicate with remote team members. It has the benefit of communal input if you so wish and it is passive. Respond when you want. Take your time to think about replies and new posts.

But it has a down side as well. You cant force your team to read the forums and there is always a good chance that they will miss important posts directed at them. Also, while there are a lot of free forums out there they are plagued by bots, spammers, and the occasional hacker. They require maintenance and sometimes can be a hassle to run.

So I would suggest that the game development app comes equipped with a very basic forum set up type application that is accessed from within the game development app itself. It would have all the basics that an online forum needs. Quote, bold, italic functions, new post and reply post options.

One thing I always wished that a forum would have is an “I read this.” button that everyone on the team would have to click. This would really help. It’s not intrusive but it reminds people that they have to read it.

The intention is to cut out the middle man totally. No muss no fuss.

Would I suggest that there be a limited java chat app within the virtual desktop? Maybe. Ive never made good use of one but others may.


Documents are super important. Word and spreadsheet doc’s both have a place. Especially if they were modifiable and readable by all.

The solution to this is easy.

Either contact Google and get permission to embed “Google documents” into the app which already have this function or write your own. Personally I’d talk to Google.

File System.

This is the easiest concept to grasp. Mimic Windows file tree and file display. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Well, that’s about all I can think of right now. So, whos gonna build this for me? ;)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

work work work all i ever do is watch movies on i mean work...

after much complaining to myself about myself i got some Fleets stuff done tonight. Not much but it's something.

putting up for consideration an option to standardize the creation of vessel designs, weapon and sub model placement. used the escort class as an example:

did a little more work on the stats index which is forming up to be a huge database of information:

and suggested to the team and the community that we ought to reorg the vessels to more easily apply promotion points to players...but it's still kinda broken:

and thats it for today. good night.

A Lesson Learnt

Our Fleets project is coming along together nicely albeit a bit slow. I cant see the light at the end of the tunnel but I do see the tunnel wayyyyy off in the distance.

Slow progress is about all I can expect truth be told. Working remotely is always tough. School, work, family, job etc always takes center stage and we all realize this. Still frustrating though.

For example we need just a couple models built for Fleets. Just a few of the first ones which are the Escort and the Destroyer.

One gentleman built our Escort model and it looked great. But it was not useable as it was…I think…15K polys unfinished. Then he takes off and we never see him again so she needs to be rebuilt. Thanks chap!

Our modeler, Baheno, began the Escort rebuild already.

Baheno then built our Destroyer model. She looks great but now I am worried that the design wont mesh with the types of weapons the game is calling for which leads directly into the type of gameplay the game calls for.

The gameplay I desire calls for port and starboard weapons mostly, with enough room for some ventral and dorsal mountings. Weapons would be mounted on a turret or built into the hull with less traversability (thereby being less expensive). The design of the Destroyer model does not allow for port/starboard mounted weapons (it does but we’ll have to squeeze em in there and it wont look good). Nor does the Escort (but that’s not as bad because the Escort is a quick in, strike, quick out vessel. Forward mounted weapons make sense.)

So what are we to do?

a) start again and design a new Destroyer? I did that already and I happen to think my design is quite nice :D
b) modify the existing model to allow for better weapon placement?

Those options are fine. We are not far enough into development where we cant throw out or modify a model or two and expect it to hamper us.

But it took so LONG to just get the Destroyer complete. Baheno is a busy guy. Work and school together so I understand. No big deal.

But still…ugh…there is a bright spot that came from all this.

A lesson. I learned a lesson.

1)I have to know what I want exactly before I tell the concept artist what to draw.
2)What I want has to go beyond “it has to look cool”.
3)There is a pipeline and it goes like this. What I envision to> concept artist to> rough sketch to> final drawing to>3D model.

We’ll loose work and time because I didn’t explain clearly to the men what was needed. 1) I assumed they knew what was needed and 2) I didn’t know what was needed till it was to late.

A lesson learnt.....or is it learned?

Texture Resource Galore!

Wow. I found this little website just 2 minutes ago and I wanted to post about it. In fact I'll create a whole new label for this. Think I'll call it "Game Dev Resources". Yeah, I like that.

Here she is:

This little webby is a really nice texture resource for game makers and the EULA is nice nice to boot. You can read about it as soon as you try to see a texture larger than a thumbnail and it'll give you guys the freedom you need to make games. Especially you level designers.

Basically it says you can put it in your work and even sell your work using the textures you find here. The only thing you can not do is download all their textures and 1) package them to resell and 2) host them on your own site.

Sounds like a good deal to me!

Is it free? Sort of. You can have all the textures you like for free as long as they are 512x512. If you want higher res images you need to pay. BUT their pricing plans are pretty great. Here, have a looksee for yourself.

There are a little over 1000 images, a little over 600 textures and 112 of them have normal maps to boot. that'll save a few minutes of work.

You want to see something really neat? The best part about this web site, besides that it exists, is the way they categorize their textures and then display them to you, the user.

Say you pick some random texture, a STOP sign. Well, the chances that you'll need more signs are pretty great so they offer them all to you via a little dynamic visual tree "thingy". See? Neat huh?

To bad I dont need any of their textures. They dont seem to have any space ship hulls available but it looks to be a new site so it'll grow. May as well grow with it.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

How to begin from the very bottom. Step #1

I'm still a new guy myself. the only thing that I've released was an old HL mod (started about 8 years ago. released about 3 years ago) and I'm now working with a couple really great guys on an independent project using Ogre3D.

But I have learned a few things and I have made some tragic mistakes. Maybe I can impart some knowledge to even newer guys who want to make games for fun or profit.

I hope this helps someone.

Introduction: What can you, Mr. HINEW, expect?

I've seen a lot of new guys on a lot of game development forums ask this single question.

I'd like to make video games. Where do I start? How do I begin? What do I need to learn?

Those are great questions and I imagine the kid asking is someone who just played and beat some really fantastic game that inspired them emotionally and creatively. he's about 12 year old or so and knows absolutely nothing about anything.

But that isn't important. The important part is he sat down after that game and said...

WOW! That was really fucking cool! I wonder how they made that. I wonder if I can make something like that too!

So the 12 year old kid sits down and says to himself...

I really didn't like that one part in the dungeon. I would have done it differently. I would have had X,Y and Z. and that part in the fortress was a real let down. it would have been better if they had X,Y and Z.

Thats it right there. Thats the beginning of game design.

So now the kid gets online and does a search. he's bound to find a lot of resources. but like most kids on the interweb he doesn't do the searching and research. he finds a game development forum and he asks THE QUESTION.

Admittedly THE QUESTION is sometimes a drag for those of us who have seen it and responded to it a hundred times already. sometimes it even gets to me.

So if you're planning on asking THE QUESTION be forewarned. you'll get flamed. you'll be talked down to. you'll generally be treated like a POS by some of the guys who could have easily typed less and given you knowledge. instead they type way to much just to tell you that it's...

  • hard work
  • you know nothing
  • you better leave this kind of thing to us
  • everyone has ideas

Talk about demoralizing! that's like me telling my 3 year old daughter...

Hey, Look. I'm gonna die one day and so is Mom. In fact everyone around you
will eventually die. Oh, and life sucks, you'll hate your job and probably
end up getting at least one divorce.

But then there are those guys who try to help entirely to much. how can you help to much? easy. those guys say things like this...

the first thing you need to do is learn to program. here is a website of free compilers. buy this book and this book and these 3 other books. ok. good? great. see you in 4 years.

What the hell!? sure, learning to program is a great thing but what the guys who say this just did was totally demoralise the guy asking the question!

On the flip side there are those guys who belong to the game design communities who honestly try to help but they are truly drowned out by the BS "holier than thou" uber 3ll7 indie game developers.

Basically, if you have to ask THE QUESTION, be as specific as possible with it and do some research before hand. figure out what position of game development you think you'd enjoy the most and ask specific questions in regards to that.

The Answer to the Question.

(A) Like I've said I see this question a whole lot and I think I've developed a great answer. I have this answer saved in a word doc at home and I simply copy and past it where applicable.

You simply cant start with a run and jump into the big world of game development. You have to learn to walk first.

Assuming you have absolutely no skills right now the very best thing to do is track down others like you who may have just a tad more skill and the very best place to find those people are mod communities like those surrounding Half~Life2.

I personally feel the HL2 community is the best place to begin because the support is top notch, the documentation you'll need is right at your finger tips, the tools you'll need are already there and the best reason is that it's the most popular game to mod and there are hundreds of thousands of other people looking to do, or are already doing, what you want to do.

Buy the game first if you have not already. Then simply browse mod forums and read the documentation. It may seem hard at first but once you have things set up it's smooth sailing.

Assuming you have zero skills right now, and I am assuming you do, the easiest part of mod making is level design.

Level design is the act of making the maps you play in and is easy to grasp but very hard to master. For HL2 level design is tool is called Hammer and it comes with HL2 but you may need to update it.

Read all the documentation you can find as you do it and do not hesitate to ask questions on Hammer editor forums.

As long as that questions is not "How do I become a mapper?" or "Where do I begin?" or any variation on those two. Thats just as bad as asking "How do I make video games?"

Do a little bit of research first and then ask informed questions.

After that, practise. Show your work, offer your services as a mapper and you'll probably be asked to join a mod team.

Alternately if you have any other skills or level design isn't your cup of tea there is other work to be done.

  • programming
  • sound or audio engineering
  • 3dArt
  • 2dArt

Starting with a mod team and the mod community is the best place for a very new person to learn the ropes. Really, it's the only place unless you go to some game design school.

Also, read everything you can. There are missions of words out there on the interweb written by industry pros and successful indies. Read them all as you go along on your game development journey. There is some high level stuff out there that simply wont apply to you just yet but read it anyway because one day it will.

Thats where you begin but thats not where you end.

The Statement

As bad as THE QUESTION is there is one worse thing a new guy like you can say. I call it The Statement and it goes something like this...

Dudes, I have this really great idea for a video game and...

Just stop right there. Seriously. Stop right now. Hit yourself over the head with a large trout because what you're doing is committing online forum suicide. If you make The Statement in any game development community you may as well re register a new forum account and pretend that you never heard of yourself for a while.

Why? Simple. We all have ideas. We're all creative. Thats why we too want to make games.

It's possible that you'll be able to gather a solid core of guys around you who also find your game idea really great and would be willing to work on it but you have one big thing going against you.

You do not know anything about game development yet and no one will want to make your idea a reality.


You first need some skills yourself so you can contribute. What are you bringing to the table? Being an ideas guy is not gonna happen.

Besides, if your the guy with the idea and you actually put together a team to help you that means your the guy in charge and thats a whole lot harder than it sounds. Managing a remote game development is a tricky work. Dont hit the ground running. Join another team first and see how it's done.

To be continued...

what the hell is a blog anyway?

I don’t really understand this whole blogging thing. To me a “blog” is just a web page with almost zero the functionality of a web page.

Think about it. When this whole blogging thing started and right before it took off they all looked the same. The intention of a blog was to make available a quick and easily maintained outlet for some old ladies rants about her neighbors cat or some politically minded yet technically lacking collage kid to have a web page about how much he hates Bush.

But look at them now. Each one can be modified to such an extent that it blurs the lines of what a blog was and a wysiwyg web editor like Dreamweaver, Frontpage, or even Homestead.

Take this “blog” for example. I can edit the HTML if I so wished and, well, basically make this into a webpage with free hosting.

It seems that the blogging companies are torn between giving the end user the ability to modify their little interweb home as much as they want and stopping them from doing just that because it may no longer be a “blog”. If they allowed me or anyone to easily change the formatting it would break the blogging principle because, and I cant be sure of this, but I think its written somewhere that all blogs have to have a sidebar of links to other blogs, have very small text, the actual blogging format can not be more than 4 inches wide and they all have to take a hideously long time to scroll to the bottom page.

I fought this blogging thing for a long time. It just seemed so inefficient and impractical. I still do. But I’m jumping on someone else’s train (get a cookie if you get the reference) cause other indie game developers have one too. Maybe I can rub some virtual shoulders and make some contacts.

That rubbing of virtual shoulders sounds so wrong somehow…

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Games...I guess...What kind of blog name is that OR hello, I am Charlie and this is my first post.

Well, I could have called it "Games? I suppose" or "Games? Why the hell not" or even "Games? Oh for Christ sake...may as well...sure. Why not." But all of those just seemed a bit to depressing or like I'm uninterested in this blog or pc games. I dont take myself or my game projects to seriously but I'm passionate about making games. "Games? I guess" is perfectly placed right in the median of emotions for me.

Come to think of it "Games? Meh." might be better

Ya see, I've been making board games since I was a lad no taller than my PC tower and then few years ago (about 8 I think) I happened to fall into a HL mod team, ran it and we produced a really good game.

None of us knew what we were doing and that was evident by our 400% turn over rate of members and 6+ years of production. Toward the end of "production" I happened to be the only original guy left. So, I left it myself after it was completed and released on a good note.

Anyway, I was bitten by the game design bug and ever since then I have not stopped working on one project or the other.

I am no programmer, not an audio guy, I cant build a 3D model and I know nothing about business. I do have minimal skills in digital art (of which you can see a shining example of jpgs I made for this blog.)

I'm that guy. Yeah, the "game designer" that's not supposed to exist. The untalented hack who gets guys to build games for him. Yeah. I'm that asshole. The guy with ideas better than so I am told that's what I think in my beady little head by the other untalented hacks on game design forums. Erm...excuse me. I mean the professional independent game developers who litter forums such as spouting this and that as it were gold falling from their very mouths. You know those guys, right? Those guys are the ones who never ever released a game but speak as though they have. The independent Will Wright's and the Peter Molyneux's of the indie world...but with no product to show...ever.

Those are the fellas who would rather tear some new inspiring developer down to a stump of a man rather than impart some kind of gentle knowledge that will actually assist. I hate those kinds of fucks.

Oh boy. Sorry for the rant. My first blog you see. Figured I'd do it right the first time and then screw it up with future posts.

Now, the vast majority of indie game developers are fantastic guys who'd give you the shirt off their backs not to mention impart priceless wisdom of their experiences...and of their released products.

Thats why i started this little blog. You see, at work I spend the majority of my time scouring the interweb looking for other joes like me and lo and behold was I surprised that guys like me enjoy these things called blogs! Oh happy days!

Anyway, back to the title. "Games? I guess." Is the name I chose for this game development blog because while I love, absolutely love, making PC games I do understand it's but a simple hobby of mine. I'll never get rich making games...and chances are that neither will you my indie friend...but that’s not the point.

The point is to have fun, make friends, and learn new skills.

Oh yeah, skills. Remember, I'm the poor sod with no skills, right? Well, I do have one singularly important talent. To me, it's like gold.

See, I have this uncanny ability to find incredibly talented individuals, convince them that I am not El Diablo, and that it's a good idea to work on my game projects which then becomes their game projects too for fun and profit and exexperience