Game Club: Cave Story (hosted by Drew Wright)

Get ready, space cadets, because our monthly Game Club (think book club, but for games) starts now. This month’s host is Drew Wright, and his selection is:

Cave Story
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, Wii, 3DS
Genre: Platform Adventure
Developer: Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya

As usual, this podcast is filled with spoilers!

Game Club – Episode 5: Cave Story
Youtube version | MP3 download | OGG download
Intro and outro music credits: “White” by Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya

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Beginners Guide to Game Developers Conference (February 26, 2015)

Our next Twitch.tv live-stream will be on a beginners guide to navigating and utilizing the Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on March 1st through March 6th. Joining us on our Tech Valley Game Space channel will be Jamey Stevenson, Terence Tolman, and Brian Shurtleff — all GDC veterans — to discuss about their methods on dealing with GDC. Check us out on Twitch.tv at February 26th, starting at 7:30 PM EST. We will be answering any questions on the chat as well, so join in!

For convenience, we’ve created a reminder at Meetup below.

Beginners Guide on Game Developers Conference (GDC)

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015, 7:30 PM

No location yet.

0 Space Cadets Went

What should one do at the largest conference for game developers in the world? Join Jamey Stevenson, Terence Tolman, and Brian Shurtleff on Twitch.tv to discuss what is the best way to utilize Game Developers Conference (GDC) on March 1st at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA.The stream will be available in the TVGS Twitch.tv channel at the s…

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Troy Night Out games showcase (February 27, 2015)

This Friday night, we have a showcase of games at The Arts Center in downtown Troy, starting at 5:00 PM. Come join in for a fun, open night of fresh, local games made by our very own cadets. As usual, we have the meetup linked below:

Troy Night Out

Friday, Feb 27, 2015, 5:00 PM

The Arts Center of the Capital Region
265 River St Troy, NY

1 Space Cadets Attending

Want to show off your own game you’ve been working on?  Or perhaps you want to see what kinds of games are made locally?  Then look no further than this month’s Troy Night Out at The Arts Center where TVGS members showcase games for everyone to play!  Come join the fun!

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Regular Weekly Meeting (February 25, 2015)

Our regular weekly meeting this week will continue the discussion on how to conduct a game jam focused on diversity, as well as Troy Night Out. Everyone is invited to join in!

As usual, please RSVP at Meetup in the link below:

Regular Weekly Meeting

Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015, 6:00 PM

Tech Valley Game Space
291 River St, Suite 304 (3rd floor) Troy, NY

3 Space Cadets Attending

This week, we’ll have the regular weekly meeting, continuing the Diversity Game Jam discussion as well as other topics including distributing flyers and GDC preparation.We will also be discussing plans for our first interactive showcase night at The Arts Center of the Capital Region, which will take place during Troy Night out on Friday, February …

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Regular Weekly Meeting (February 18, 2015)

We will return to our regular weekly meeting next Wednesday at 6:00 PM EST here at Tech Valley Game Space. This time, we will brainstorm on how to conduct a game jam focused on diversity. Everyone is invited to join in!

As usual, please RSVP at Meetup in the link below:

Regular weekly meeting

Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015, 6:00 PM

Tech Valley Game Space
291 River St, Suite 304 (3rd floor) Troy, NY

1 Space Cadets Attending

We’re having a regular weekly meeting this week. This time, we’ll be brainstorming on how to prepare and conduct our own game jam focused on diversity.

Check out this Meetup →

Lost Marbles

Devs Play Lost Marbles (February 5, 2015)

Keith Morgado from Binary Takeover will be live-streaming, playing his game, Lost Marbles at Tech Valley Game Space on February 5th, starting at 7:00 PM EST. He’ll be explaining how he came up with the game idea, and the decisions he made on each level. For convenience, we’ve created a reminder at Meetup below.

Devs Plays Lost Marbles

Thursday, Feb 5, 2015, 7:00 PM

Tech Valley Game Space
291 River St, Suite 304 (3rd floor) Troy, NY

4 Space Cadets Went

Developer from Binary Takeover, Keith Morgado, will play and describe his game, Lost Marbles, on Twitch.tv. Hang around on the Twitch chat for some fun Q & A!We’ll be live streaming at the channel below: http://www.twitch.tv/techvalleygamespace/Note: since this is an online event, this Meetup is only a reminder that can be added to your calenda…

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We’ll be streaming this devs play on our Tech Valley Game Space channel on Twitch.tv, so check it out!

Edit: the recording has been uploaded on Youtube!

Global Game Jam Showcase (February 11, 2015)

We will have a showcase at the TVGS co-working studio on February 11th, starting at 6:00 PM EST. Bring those games you’ve made, and show off to the entire group how proud you are of it! Or, if you happen to have a Global Game Jam 2015 game that you want to introduce from a different site, bring it in! All Global Game Jam 2015 games are welcome, including boardgames and card games.

Global Game Jam Showcase

Wednesday, Feb 11, 2015, 6:00 PM

Tech Valley Game Space
291 River St, Suite 304 (3rd floor) Troy, NY

5 Space Cadets Went

Time to show off those newfangled games you’ve created a few weeks ago. Let’s have a showcase of Global Game Jam games.  All games created for Global Game Jam are welcome!

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Impossible Poker Post Mortem

[Cross-posted from Omiya Games]

So, I’m programmer, been consistently making digital games every month, and yet, made a card game for Global Game Jam this year. Oddly enough, I found the experience to be more challenging than the common perception would imply. While the development process of the prototypes and iterations were quick and easy, properly identifying problems with the game, as well as understanding why the inspirations for the game were so engaging proved to be more tough than expected. This is the post-mortem of Impossible Poker, a game where you don’t know the rules.

What is Impossible Poker?

Impossible Poker is a card game that’s easily playable with 4 or more people, a deck of playing cards, 2 cards with one saying ‘yes’ while the other says ‘no’, and some tokens. The game starts with one person designated as the RuleMaster, and creates a rule that governs the values of each card. Each player is given 5 cards, and they play one card from their hand at once. The RuleMaster, then, determines which played card wins, then creates a stack of that card to provide a visual history of the results (note that by default, the highest valued card wins). Finally, the players can either ask a yes or no question to the RuleMaster or make a guess to the rule using either one of their 3 tokens, or the free opportunity they’re given every 3 turns. A yes or no question will be answered privately using the yes or no cards, while guesses will be answered with a correct or incorrect publicly. The first person to guess the rules correctly wins.

Our team consisted of four people: Kelli Dunlap, Eric Vignola, James Kim, and myself, Taro Omiya. I largely worked more as a supporting role, proposing many different solutions to problems we’ve identified (most, which I admit, weren’t all that useful).

What went right?

Learning something new

I swore to myself that I would get around making a board/card game at one point, not only to experience what it’s like to work with them, but also because I strongly believed it would help me become a better game designer. Not only am I happy that I finally satisfied that bucket list, but I’ve also come to a surprising conclusion: designing analogue games aren’t all that different from video games. Much like designing digital games, creating an engaging card game revolves around creating tight feedback loops, giving steady reinforcements, and dealing with holes and exploits in the rules. The only differences I found were quick feature implementation and feedback, simpler aesthetic, and the lack of juice (which is actually a relief). This experience should be useful when I experiment with different methods to prototype before creating the final product.

A worthy challenge, with a satisfying twist

I’m also proud about taking on the challenge of creating a game where the rules aren’t obvious. It has the classic hook of, “how can you play such a crazy game” that I like to implement in most of my digital games. Plus, the game proved to be a pleasant challenge to design, with unique problems and solutions I haven’t encountered with other games. A lot of people at the end of the jam were interested in trying the game, so we were definitely onto something with that selling point.

Finally taking comfort in supporting role

As of last year, I’ve been working solo as a full-time indie developer, and it’s been a pretty big concern to me on whether I’ve started losing touch with other people. Additionally, the Global Game Jam 2013 proved to be a wake-up call when I realized I was somewhat uncomfortable at taking roles outside of designing and programming. So I was pleasantly surprised this year that not only did I feel comfortable taking on a more supportive role with the team — with my efforts focused largely on forming the team, planning a simple schedule, providing some feedback, and programming the random rules generator — but I also felt like a valuable contributor as well. I also had the feeling that throughout the development, the rest of the team members were comfortable with their roles as well. Nobody was talking over each other, we were quick to identify and solve problems, and only times when we were really tired did any of us wander off and disperse. Plus, at least for me, there was a huge sense of relief that the programming aspect of the game was completely optional rather than a major component.

What needs improvement?

That one play-tester

At 3:00 on the second day, the doors were opened to allow any curious convention goers at MAGFest to visit and play test our games at the current state. We’ve hand some wonderful feedback from several people who visited our location, but one in particular stood out: the one who lectured us for a few hours. This play-tester actually had a lot of great insight about our game, such as the lack of hints to figure out the secret rules, and the exploitable win condition. While useful, the delivery of the feedback was, well, a bit intense. I think that session left us both exhausted and unsure of ourselves. Between that time to the end of day 2, we’ve been mulling about changing the game entirely, but never been able to determine how.

A little too laid back

I think we’ve gotten a little too comfortable before that one play-tester came along to really realize some flaws in the game. Ultimately, I feel like we should have gathered feedback from other people sooner to help identify problems with the gameplay. In context, I realize this would have been difficult: most people who would play our game were stuck working on their own game at the jam site, and our game still required 4 people at least to play. Fortunately, the day 2 feedback did prove to be a good wake-up call, so we did eventually get back into shape.

Programming independently from the game design

One feedback we found early on was that it was hard to come up with 3 secret rules before the game started, making the setup time longer than necessary. It was decided in the middle to eventually program a random rule generator that would be smart enough to provide 3 non-conflicting rules so that the user can easily choose a set of rules as they please. I finally took on this task during day 3’s morning, immediately while the rest of the team decided to change the game focus from the originally gambling objective to sleuthing. I wasn’t able to communicate or update properly at the time, so right when I was done with the framework and UI design, I was surprised to here that the game changed entirely from the former 3 set of rules to any number of rules you’d like (though only one was recommended). A classic moment of terrible communication, especially on my part. Fortunately, most of the framework still worked for the game, and the rest of the team commented it’s very unlikely that anyone would want more than 2 rules to play (let alone 3), so this problem was very quickly resolved, and I was able to proceed on creating more content.

What to do next

I’ve been told numerous times that paper prototypes are the best place to start designing your game, but up to this point, I’ve only been nodding my head in reply to that advice. Now I see the real wisdom behind that advice: paper prototypes provide quicker feedback and ease in modifications that is much hard to do on the digital space. This is perfect for experimenting with different design ideas, and making sure they’re tight enough to start a bigger project. Next time when I’m brainstorming and prototyping on a game, any ideas that doesn’t rely on physics heavily will be prototyped via paper to make sure it is as engaging as I hope.

Global Game Jam 2015 Post Mortem (January 28, 2015)

We have a meeting at the Game Space on January 28th, starting at 6:00 PM EST. This time, we’ll be discussing about what it was like to make a game in 48 hours at the Global Game Jam 2015. You can sign up in the Meetup below.

Global Game Jam Post Mortem Open Discussion

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015, 6:00 PM

Tech Valley Game Space
291 River St, Suite 304 (3rd floor) Troy, NY

4 Space Cadets Attending

Let’s talk about how Global Game Jam went for everyone, what went right, and what went wrong.  This is an open discussion for both those who’ve participated this year, and those who haven’t but are interested in making games to learn about how to approach game jams.Note that the showcase of Global Game Jam games is scheduled two weeks after this o…

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For those who can’t make it, we’ll live-stream the discussion on 7:00 PM EST at Twitch.tv!

Edit: the podcast has been uploaded to Youtube: