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.

Ridiculous

March 20, 2009

http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/03/20/animal-lovers-bite-back-dog-killing-call-duty-world-war

Sometimes I read a news story that just really annoys me. This is one of them. Not only are people getting upset about human on human violence in videogames, it is now too much to have violence against animals in a game. Fake violence, with fake animals.

Also, let it be known that I will gladly commit acts of violence against any dog named Winnie the Pooh. Honestly, are these people sane? Do they really think that people cannot tell the difference between shooting a dog in a game and acting violently towards animals in real life?

Game Updates

March 11, 2009

A Death Foreordained and Engineer have both been updated to fix a few bugs. Shortest blog post ever.

I recently read this article about F2P Asian MMO ZT Online. ZT Online is heavily focused on getting players to spend real money on in-game stuff, to the point where it is virtually unplayable without paying. The original article was written in Chinese, and has been taken down from its original posting and many other websites, due to pressure from the operators of ZT Online.

It’s a rather long read, but it provides some great insight into a direction that Western MMOs could possibly take, seeing as the whole “microtransaction” thing is starting to really take root here. If microtransactions as used in ZT Online are the future of MMOs, then count me out.

A Death Foreordained

February 28, 2009

Download A Death Foreordained

A Death Foreordained is my entry in a 48-hour game jam hosted by RPGDX. The theme was “lofi,” and as you can see, it’s pretty graphically simple. My goal was to make a arcade/RPG hybrid, but it ended up turning out a bit more arcadey than I wanted. There are some really good looking other entries to the jam, and I will be going over a couple of them in the near future.

Why Midway Games Will Fail

February 19, 2009

I live down the street from Midway Games in Chicago, and have blogged about them before. They have been having a bit of financial troubles, and have teamed up with Ubisoft to publish their next game. Now, Midway has a second chance that a lot of companies don’t get.

Unfortunately, they are using this chance to release Wheelman, featuring Vin Diesel…great. This means that someone at the Midway offices said “Hey, we are on the brink of failing as a company, let’s release a GTA clone featuring Vin Diesel to win back the public’s affection and money!”. I could be wrong, and Wheelman could turn out to be a good game, but, to me, it looks like Midway still doesn’t get it.
If they keep releasing mediocre looking games like this, I don’t see a future for Midway.

A few of us over at TIG had a friendly little competition to make games around the concept of a love letter. It was my first experience making a game in Flash, and I really learned a lot about it from doing this. I made a simple game to the beat of a song that is special to my significant other and I.

By far the best entry, though, was Heart Heist, by Moth. For only a few days notice, the game is very polished and complete. You choose from one of four characters, each taking different paths through the same levels. It’s kinda like a Metroidvania, but light enough to play in one sitting.

Overall, there were some neat games made. Another one I enjoyed was Coloumb’s Law by Theta Games. It was nice to make games with other people without the usual short time constraints that usually accompany themed contests like this. Most importantly, I finally took the time to learn Flash, which opens up a whole new world of game dev opportunities for me…I’m excited.

Engineer Released

January 15, 2009

engineerss2

Engineer is a tower defense game with a bit of Robotron thrown in. Instead of killing a ton of zombies by hand, you get to build turrets to kill them, and walls to redirect them. Check it out here.

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.

Spore Ruined Christmas

January 4, 2009

I received a copy of Spore for Christmas, and was genuinely excited to play the game. I had held off buying it as soon as it came out, and nobody had anything too bad to say about it (Besides a couple of lawsuits over SecureROM). Spore is a good game, and I have been enjoying it, although I’m not sure if the tormenting ordeal to get it to work was worth it.

Installing the game worked as it should, but as soon as I clicked the icon to run Spore, it crashed. I got a screen resolution change, and then an error that really didn’t tell me much. Rather than messing with the settings, I Googled to see if other people were having this same problem.

It turns out, a pretty substantial amount of people have had/are having the same problem. I sifted through pages and pages of Google results of errors similar to mine, and never really found a clear fix. Dozens of people were having problems with the game, and in each help thread I found, they really weren’t getting anywhere. For every suggestion on what to do to fix Spore, there were three more people asking for another possible solution.

I fiddled with Spore until about 4AM, when I finally found the solution. Three re-installs and a lengthy SecureROM removal process later, I got the game to work by installing it in a folder on the desktop. Let me repeat that. I got Spore to work not by installing it in the default Program Files folder, or even a folder directly on my C: drive. I have no idea why this works…it just does. It seems that not many people know about this method, but the few places I’ve seen mention it seem to have a couple of people that this worked for.

Spore is a decent game, as I said, but it is broken. So broken that the default install directory causes the game to crash. Actually, pretty much anything will cause Spore to crash. I have had Spore crash on me more times than I am comfortable with on both the PC and Mac versions. If anything, EA should be sued for distributing a program that barely works, in addition to distributing non-consensual software.

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