The word “portal,” at least to me, conjures up images of casual game havens like Big Fish or Reflexive, or sites full of the same flash games that are on every other site, like Kongregate or Armor Games. The idea of a game portal site really didn’t appeal to me until I spent some time on Game Jolt.

Game Jolt accepts nearly any kind of free game, be it downloadable or web-based. At first glance, it may appear to be just another site, with not much to offer, and I have seen several people complaining about how the layout looks too much like Kongregate’s, and I will admit that both the layout and business model bear some resemblance. However, after poking around the site a bit, it becomes obvious that Game Jolt is more than just another portal and may just be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Game Jolt has a couple of tricks up its sleeve that give it a large amount of potential. My favorite is the revenue sharing system. Although it is in closed beta right now, the program promises to offer developers a relatively easy way to monetize freeware games. The current split is 50/50, but will probably change as the program matures. The good news is that any developers that sign up now can reserve this rate for life, even if they are not chosen for the closed beta.

Another feature I think adds to the site’s potential is the Quick Play system. One of the main hassles of downloadable games is the fact that they usually need to be installed or unzipped. Very rarely do we download a straight .exe file and run it. Game Jolt solves this with a system that does the work for you. The developer simply uploads a .zip file, and the Quick Play system takes care of the rest. I think the removal of this extra step is a very important part in improving the accessibility of downloadable games.

I could go on about Game Jolt’s other qualities, like the active and friendly community, or the contests, but then people might start to get suspicious. The point is that Game Jolt is creating a site that could open up the freeware games sector to an audience that it hasn’t really had before, and they are doing so in a developer-centric sort of way. I’ve registered and uploaded some of my games to the site, and I sincerely wish the site success in the future as both a developer and user.

I have been trying out Unity3D recently, and as my trial draws to a close, I am really considering purchasing it. It is by far the best 3D game development environment I have ever used, and I have used my fair share of those. I haven’t really started anything too in-depth, as it might be some time before I can raise the $200 for an indie license, but I did manage to make a couple minigames…just click the images to check them out.

Cockpit Compo

February 21, 2009

TIG is having a competition, with cockpits as the the theme. I am building a cel-shaded mech game, with a couple twists. Here’s an early screen.

I have recently discovered Mo’Minis Studio, a piece of software designed to bring mobile game creation to the masses. Their website promises that “Mo’Minis Studio allows fast creation of quality mobile games. It is designed to serve advanced as well as non-skilled developers and does not require any programming knowledge.” I am still skeptical as to how painless the entire process is going to be, though.

The main thing that worries me about Mo’Minis is the distribution model. You do not get to compile your own games and distribute them yourself. Instead you submit your games to the Mo’Minis developers, and they test/compile it for you. They also use ties that they have with an Israeli based mobile phone company. Mo’Minis Studio is said to be able to develop games for dozens of cell phone models, and if this is so, then it may just be easier to have someone else optimize and test it for you, so the limited distribution model may prove to work out. I have submitted my first game, and am looking forward to seeing exactly how this process goes.

My game is a lame George W. Bush shoe throwing game. I have ripped on these in the past, but it was a simple concept that I could throw together to test the waters.

bushshoe

A rapid way of developing mobile games really needs to exist, and I am excited to hear back from Mo’Minis. As far as I’m concerned, the software is easy enough to use, and is very polished. We’ll see if Mo’Minis can revolutionize game creation in the mobile world like programs like Game Maker have done for the PC market.

WIP: Untitled Game

December 16, 2008

untitled

Here’s a quick screenshot of a WIP. The overall aim is for a medieval Godzilla, I guess. I’m using Game Maker 5.3A for this one due to some GM issues. The overall goal of the game is to lead your army of small soldiers to victory over the massive beast enemy, obviously. I am thinking about entering it in this contest. I will also be adding villagers and hovels for the beast to smash and ravage.

I’m still undecided on a name, but I’m sure one will come to me.

Game Maker Ruins My Life

December 15, 2008

Game Maker and I have a very love/hate relationship. I love it because it lets me create in a few hours what would normally takes days or weeks to do. I hate it because everything about GM is just so damn inconsistent. Game Maker is the English language of programming languages. It isn’t designed well at all, but it somehow works and works well.

Right now I haven’t been able to work on as much stuff due to the fact that any GM games crash on startup on my laptop, which is what I spend 80% of my time on. Fortunately, Game Maker 5.3A games are running fine, so it does present an interesting challenge of using a tool that I have largely forgotten about. Version 5.3A is a far step back from the current version, and looking at some of the features that didn’t exist in the earlier version made me realize how spoiled I am now.

My Game Maker problems are also cross-platform. I have been toying around with the new GM Mac Beta, and I really don’t have anything good to say about it. The sprite editor is a joke, and there is about a 50% chance that your game just won’t load. YoYo Games has slated the open beta for April, and they’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Am I disappointed by GM sometimes? Yes, but I have been using it for so long now that I would have to invest a large amount of time into changing my dev environment to reach the level of proficiency I have with GM now. I don’t quite think it’s worth it. Maybe someday another technology will come along and sweep me off my feet, but until then, I’m sticking with Game Maker.