Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Monthly Checkup

This has been a busy and difficult month with some unexpected events that nearly derailed my resolve to continue this journey. Nonetheless, I press onward, but with the realization that I may not be able to post as frequently or accomplish goals as quickly as hoped. So this is a pretty informal checkup this month and I've decided not to restate previously completed goals in favor of highlighting tasks that still need work.

The foremost goal in my mind is to complete a full game. I've started reading a new book that I plan to review once I've completed it, and the exercises of chapter five have me working on a 2D space shooter. Following completion of this mini-project I will start work on a PONG clone; the physics of a ball in motion (including collision detection) are quite interesting to me and may require further study.

I have been playing more games lately but don't own a fancy new console yet; picked up three older games for the original XBox (only cost $20 for the set) and want to get a Nintendo Wii at some point. Meanwhile, I have updated my old resume and started a portfolio site that is still a work in progress.

So that's about it for progress updates this month. I think my main takeaway from this month is that it's not how quickly you run the race... just that you eventually finish... and Rome wasn't built in a day. Finally, for some fun reading, check out The Escapist online magazine. They've got some cool game-related articles and a pretty cool RSS feed. Check out my devious guide for help with RSS.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Serious Games... Seriously?

As I continue reading and learning more about games, there's one categorical phrase I see repeatedly that always stops me in my tracks: Serious Games.

Every time I see it I have to wonder, "What is a serious game?" To me, the concept of a GAME always implies (or at least makes an attempt at, though some fail miserably) a connection to... FUN! Despite my limited research, I've learned that the phrase describes the type of games intended for simulators and educational purposes. In other words, a flight similator used by the Air Force to train new pilots might be considered a member of this category.

Perhaps I'm making too big a deal over terminology, but I think educational programs of this type should simply be called "simulators." But then someone might argue that they enjoyed the simulator, and so to them it is a game! :) Nonetheless, the phrase just always hits me as an oxymoron.

Have you played any serious games lately? Would you say they were fun?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Staying Busy

Father forgive me for I have sinned... it's been two weeks since my last post. Wait, two weeks?!? I know, it's terrible and I am ashamed (not terribly, but a little bit). Rest assured, despite my recent silence some good things are happening.

Firstly, I'm reading a new book titled Introduction to 3D Game Programming with DirectX 9.0c: A Shader Approach. As I learned last time, I'm going to avoid posting a book review until I've read it all the way through, but I will say that I'm on chapter six (of twenty-two) and learning some really cool things I plan to highlight in future posts.

Secondly, I've been playing some cool free online games over at Armor Games. One of my personal favorites is Crush the Castle and my wife, who loves hedgehogs, has been hooked on Hedgehog Launch. Check 'em out!

Finally, I've decided to create a clone of the classic Atari game Pong. For those who never played, you can play a version in your browser here using pop-up windows! Pong is a simple game that shouldn't require advanced concepts. I'm hoping to dress it up with some nice textures and add a twist or two.

So there's a few things keeping me busy. Stay tuned for Pong updates!