Category Archives: Review

October 2016 Goal Review

Just realized that I did not write a review of my goal progression for October last month so here is a quick breakdown.

Goals

  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week and Publish 2 – Wrote 6 so average is up. Less focused on monthly totals at the end of the year as I have a series I am trying to write as a tutorial on making your first game using Monkey-X.
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – Drone Tournament (Game #2 of 2016) was progressed even more. The multiplayer server was basically finalized and released to Heroku as a first step to releasing the game.
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months on Game Design – Finished the book on PhaserJS. Started reading through the online version of Game Programming Patterns. Great stuff, you should check it out.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – I was planning on keeping a list of what I read or watched on game design and creation but I did not and cannot remember what I read. I did watch some videos from Extra Credits on Youtube. I have mentioned their videos before because they are really valuable. Check them out.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer Per Month – Got around 30 – 50 people’s eyes on the blog in October. Was not a focus this month as my primary focus in on wrapping up Drone Tournament and writing the tutorial series.

What Went Right

Still making progress. Got the multiplayer server into a stable build and pushed out to Heroku and starting to focus on making the interface better. Got the first couple parts of the tutorial series I want to turn into a book written. More people than the first 75% of the year were looking at something that I wrote.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

Although I am clarifying what I want to write about, the volume is still not there. Also did not do as much study on game design and creation that I wanted to.

Corrective Measures

Sleep schedule. It has been changing with the Sun going down earlier and coming up later and with the horrid daylight savings time changes. I need to get my sleep schedule back on track so I can put the time in where I want it.

Late review so I forgot some stuff. Now need to review November.

August 2016 End of Month Goal Review

And It is September, home stretch of the year.

Goals

  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week and Publish 2 – Got the same number of posts in August as I did in July, 5. The writing goal was 12 and the publishing goals was 8. Still not hitting my writing goals, but I am pivoting a bit on my writing format. Additional goal is to create a series of posts that end up being a solid tutorial (and maybe even a book) on making games with Monkey-X.
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – I got some good ideas for the card game from creating some mock cards and writing out factions and races that will exist in the game. Drone Tournament (Game #2 of 2016) programming is still progressing steadily. The final parts are straight uphill. Definitely interesting challenges with the simultaneous turns.
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months on Game Design – Completely finished reading Clean Code and it has already had an impact on the way I am organizing and writing my code, for the better. New book I am reading is a book on making games with Phaser JS. I will be doing a separate post about the new book.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – In August, I over corrected just a bit. I read dozens of articles on game design and creation. A majority were on a blog I stumbled upon by Ralph Koster. A goldmine of good stuff. Additionally he wrote a book called “The Theory of Fun” which I will probably be checking out later on.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer Per Month – Progress = 0%. When I get a few articles into the tutorial I will be posting it into the forums on the Monkey-X website.

What Went Right

I definitely hit my goal of reading 1 article on game design per week. Found a lot of great information on game design and balance. Big bonus, Monkey-X Pro dropped its price down to $40 (from $99) so I purchased it which will eventually allow me to build to mobile and desktop. Final big bonus was I got a logo created for the site on Fiverr which turned out looking great and was a great deal. Small bonus is that I have several cards designed for game #3 of 2016.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

Writing volume is still low. I have not gotten a consistent schedule yet. Ran into some difficult programming bits while working on Drone Tournament and it is not finished yet. Had to travel for a week in August and did not do as much programming and writing during the trip as I needed to.

Corrective Measures

The only one I can think of is currently is to be more consistent with my morning routine. Get up at a more consistent time and make sure that I do the most important things first. Additionally, I will be attempting to capitalize on my free time a bit more to focus on finishing Drone Trounament.

Read All the Articles.

July 2016 End of Month Goal Review

It’s August already. Where has this year gone? Lets take a look at how I did in on my goals in July.

Goals

  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week and Publish 2 – I wrote and published exactly 5 posts in July. The writing goal was 12 and the publishing goals was 8. This is why it is important to check the numbers every so often. I am clearly not hitting my writing goals.
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – The rough draft of a card game was made (Design) but no further work has been done on it. I have been steadily working to finish multiplayer for Drone Tournament (Game #2 of 2016) instead, and I have been making good progress. Some of the server side code could be cleaner but it is almost an MVP for play testing.
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months on Game Design – Still making my way through Clean Code, in fact I just read a few pages before writing this. On page 340 out of about 460 pages so 75% done. Making good progress actually and the principles in it have been invaluable in improving my code for my games and also for my day job.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – I don’t actually remember July that well as far as this subject goes. I do remember listening to some podcast episodes on a new podcast I found, but other than that not much.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer Per Month – I have noticed a couple people have followed links from a forum post I did linking to a tutorial on how to handle a certain camera interaction. Maybe more of these kinds of tutorial posts that teach something useful and actionable and that deal with specific problems are what I need to be doing.

What Went Right

Drone Tournament multiplayer is coming along steadily and is almost done. My code is getting cleaner and I am on track to finish reading book #2 of 2016 on the schedule I set for myself. I am getting a tiny, tiny bit of traffic to a certain article that solves a specific problem. Bonus thing that went right is that Monkey-X full version dropped its price to about $40 instead of $100. I was already thinking about getting it and this makes it an even easier decision.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

My writing volume was at less than half of my stated goal per week for July and my publishing of that writing was only slightly better than half. Game #2 was not released on time and is not yet finished. I did not keep track of the articles and videos I watched on games and game design so I don’t remember if I hit my goal or not. And still don’t have even 1 daily visitor to my blog.

Corrective Measures

In order to keep writing volume up, instead of starting every day with coding on the current game for the quarter, I will start everyday with at least 15 minutes of writing. In order to get Game #2 finished, the writing will be followed by at least an hour of designing and coding the finishing touches on the game. I start keeping a list of every article that I read and video that I watch on game design in Evernote to refer back to later to see how I am doing. And finally, I will begin writing more tutorial type posts and sharing them in the Monkey-X forums for people to use.

More Progress Mixed With Difficulty

10 Things Analysis: Texas Hold’em

It’s been a while since I did a game analysis and since Game #3 for 2016 is going to be a card game, I decided to take a look at one of the many card games I enjoy, one that is been around for a while and played worldwide. The game I chose is Poker, specifically the Texas Hold’em style.

How I Know the Game

I had seen some Texas Hold’em played before on TV during the World Series of Poker (WSOP, which incidentally has been going on for the past few weeks), but had never played it myself and didn’t really understand it until a couple years ago.

Some guys at work where having a little home poker tournament and a friend of mine invited me to come play. I didn’t know the rules so he taught me the basic rules and then I proceeded to watch the coverage of the prior 2 years of WSOP on Youtube before the tournament to prepare.

I didn’t do all that well. And although I lasted longer than my friend, I did not have a strategy for how to win.

About 8 months later I happened across a Twitch streamer named Jason Summerville who was streaming poker of all varieties every evening and I began to watch and listen. After a couple months of watching him and about a year after my first time playing Poker, the guys at work scheduled another tournament.

Again I watched WSOP, continued to watch Jason, and played some practice games with a Poker app or 2 on my phone. This time I ended up coming in 2nd place out of about 20 guys after some real close calls. It was often and I am smiling now just thinking about it.

On to Analysis

Many of these things will actually apply to all kinds of Poker but I am mainly looking at the Texas Hold’em, tournament style.

Goal

The goal of the game is simple, win all the chips. In a tournament, typically all the players will start with a similar number of chips and if you lose all of your chips you are out.

Rules

You play the game with a standard deck of playing cards. You can play as long or as short as you want and in a tournament this is usually until one player has all of the chips. The game is played in hands and each hands has several rounds of betting. Whoever wins the hand gets the chips that where bet by the various players.

You can find a more detailed description of the rules here.

Interaction

Players have 2 basic ways to interact with each other. The most obvious is through betting. When you bet it forces your opponents to make a choice of whether to fold (let you win), call (match your bet to continue playing), or reraise (force you into this decision by putting more chips in). Also the size of your bet gives your opponents information about how strong you think your hand is, or how strong you want them to think it is.

The other less obvious methods of interaction is through table talk and nonverbal communication. Good players can read body language fairly well and can even fake body language giving their opponents false information.

Catchup

One of the things about poker is that you can come from behind and win. This is usually done from “doubling up” or doubling the amount of chips you have by going “all in” and betting all of your chips that you will win. However like all catchup features, it has risk. If you lose the hand when going all in, you are out of the game.

Inertia

Each hand has 2 blinds, a big blind and a small blind. These players have to bet certain amounts each hand. This responsibility rotates around the table by one seat after each hand. The blind is also usually the minimum amount of chips you have to raise by if you want to raise. Most tournaments have the blinds increase every so often to move the game towards completion.

Surprise

Poker is full of surprises. This comes with any game that has randomness and hidden information. For Texas Hold’em you are surprised by the cards that are revealed each round and by the cards your opponents have.

Strategy

Despite the randomness inherent in a game like poker, it is full of strategy. How else you several people consistently make a living at it? Most of the strategy comes down to playing the odds and playing the other players. There are books and websites dedicated to how to play poker well. One of the great things about poker is that it is unlikely that you will ever be able to play perfectly.

Fun

There is a ton of fun in poker. Every time you put the pieces together of whether you can beat your opponent or not based on the limited information you have it is awesome. It is like one puzzle after another and can be kinda rewarding.

Flavor

This one is tough. I am not sure that poker has a flavor and that is OK.

A Hook

In a word, money. This is what gets most people into any sort of gambling game to begin with. It is a powerful hook and can lead some people into spending too much money on the game.

Final Thoughts

There is actually an interesting crossover between people who play Poker and people who play Magic the Gathering (like me). And like MTG, Poker is a very fun game and there is a lot of strategy to be found in it. It has most of the elements of our 10 things list and is not surprisingly very popular. If you have never played before, I recommend giving it a shot. Although I will add that you probably should not play for real money (at least not at first and never more than you can afford to lose).

Have fun making games that stay popular like Poker.

June 2016 End of Month Goal Review

June was actually pretty good.

Goals

  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week and Publish 2 – After getting a list of post ideas written down, it was much easier to get post written ahead of time. Additionally I started the habit of writing down ideas as I get them to keep building the list. Still not up to 3 per week but 2 has gotten much more consistent.
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – Game #2 for 2016, which is tentatively titled Drone Tournament, is nearing a working multiplayer state. A basic single player version is done (needs polish) and the gameplay seems kinda fun. I am going to finish the coding for the multiplayer version as I work on the design for game #3.
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months on Game Design – Selected Clean Code as the next book. It has already been useful in laying out the code for the current game. Making good progress in reading it and should finish it by the end of July.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – June article reading and video watching was primarily focused on generic programming improvement. I don’t remember actually watching any videos focused on game creation and design but I did watch some games that were new to me be played on Twitch and got some ideas from the design of the games.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer Per Month – Well at least 20 other people have now heard about Evolving Developer. Consistently getting traffic is still not happening (that I know of) but I did hear some interesting advice that it might take 2 years of blogging consistently to gain traction.

What Went Right

  1. Writing was more consistent and had some good ideas for posts.
  2. Picked up some good programming habits to keep my code clean and make my games better.
  3. Found Book #2 for the year.
  4. Game #2 is fun and multiplayer is coming along.
  5. I got my blog in front of several people.
  6. I started some good disciplines to help me be successful.
  7. Got an idea for a new game.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

  1. Multiplayer for Game #2 is not done and the game is not as polished as it should be.
  2. Writing volume is still well below what I would like it to be.
  3. Need to find an game artist and sound artist or find somewhere to purchase these assets.

Corrective Measures

Get a little more consistent with my daily habits for writing and programming. Find game development forums and such where artists and sound engineers might frequent and listen in. Find some asset stores where I can get graphics and sound inexpensively for my games.

Question to ask yourself

“How much value do you create for others?”

April 2016 End Of Month Goal Review

Time to review how we did on our goals in April. Spoiler alert, it’s not pretty.

Goals

  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week and Publish 2 – Completely fell on my face on this one for the month of April. Part of this is just not making it a priority and part of it is I spent 4 weekends each doing a 14+ hour drive. A couple of those hours are the ones I usually spend doing my writing. This is not something I will be doing the rest of the year and is something I was hoping to cover by having a buffer of posts built up. So the real let down is the lack of buffer to cover for times like this.
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – Much more fun to talk about this particular area. I did get the first game of 2016 deployed to a server on Digital Ocean, but did not keep it out there as the game itself is not really fun and needs more work. I also began work on game #2 and have been having fun working on movement basics and thinking of ideas. More on this later.
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months on Game Design – Not much reading has been going on recently. I did get a few more chapters through the Art of Game Design and am will finish it this month. Only 70 pages left at the time of this writing.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – I spent some time on Lost Garden reading some blog posts but have not taken any notes. I may discuss some of my thoughts on one of the post regarding multiplayer since I hope to make successful multiplayer games in the not too distant future.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer Per Month – Well I did not tell anyone about Evolving Developer in April, but I plan on telling at least 20 people at OSCON in a couple weeks (maybe more than 20, who knows). Not the best audience but last year I attended a couple sessions on games and game design so I know there are at least a few like minded people attending.

What Went Right

I made a successful deployment to Digital Ocean of game #1. This went much smoother than I expected thanks largely to an awesome tool for doing MeteorJS deploys. Game #2 has started with development already going at a much faster pace than game #1. This is partly due to a higher level of excitement about the overall game design and partly the decision to switch back to Monkey-X which is designed to be used to create games and surprisingly easy to be productive in.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

Too much travel which could not be avoided. So really, no buffer of writing built up for times when I can’t write because of other important life things happen. This was mostly avoidable and could be prevented by a little more effort. Additionally, still no progress after 4 months of getting a readership for this blog. Frankly it is scary to even write these things in a public space where people might stumble across it, let alone point them to it.

Corrective Measures

Better planning. I realized when I had a long list of blog topics I wrote more consistently. The list has shrunk since it only covered W1 (from January to the end of March). I need to make a new list for Q2. Also I need to follow the advice I read and start showing of my writing and games as publicly as possible and have a little tough skin to take any criticism constructively.

More Fail, But I Won’t Stop

March 2016 End of Month Goal Review

Time for another month end review. This one just happens to be in the middle of the next month.

Goals

  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week and Publish 2 – Publishing for March was mostly on schedule, writing still has not gotten up to 3 per week and the buffer is empty. In fact this post is about a week and a half late with 3 publish days passing with nothing written. All in all a bit of a failure. Still progress over last year though.
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – I spent a good bit of my time during the last week and a half rewriting the Meteor-Angular 2 code to Meteor-Angular 1. The app now builds and runs on Android without a blank screen. The other part of the time was spent figuring out how to deploy it to a Digital Ocean server. This has been done successfully as well using mupx which turned a possible headache into a much smoother process. I still need to work on deploying the game to the Play store
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months on Game Design – I might have read 3 or 4 chapters of the The Art of Game Design. It was all excellent reading and the book continues to provide excellent ideas. Looks like this may be 1 of 2 books for the year.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – Absolute fail here. Maybe watched 1 video and read 1 article for the month of March. No notes taken and no real memory of what they were about.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer Per Month – Again, no progress made. However I did spend time researching various methods of marketing and promoting a blog. This was sort of done instead of researching game design for March. Ideally the ideas that are used to market a blog or website will translate into marketing a game.

What Went Right

I have a game, however bad, ready to deploy to the Play store and deployed to a Digital Ocean server. This was the ultimate goal for the first quarter this year. This process has given me material for several blog posts. Also I learned a bit about marketing and promoting a blog. Now all I need to do is put it into effect.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

A lot of the time I plan to use to write, code, and read is on Saturdays and Sundays. In March, 3/5 of those weekends was spent traveling in a way that prevented me from doing any of these things. I need to plan some time during the week for these activities. My new mantra is “Pay Yourself First.” I spent too much of the time I did have trying to figure out a bug in bleeding edge tech when I should have just used a stable framework from the beginning. The final form of the game is not really a game. It really needs better writing.

Corrective Measures

Start every day with at least 30 minutes to an hour devoted to writing, coding on the game of the quarter, or reading. Probably do these in a rotation. Pick a stable technology for game number 2. I may hire somebody to write a story I can drop into the framework for Game 1 to make it more interesting.

Lots of Failure, But Still Progress

February 2016 End of Month Goal Review

It is March already and that means it is time to review how I did on my goals last month.

Goals

  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week And Publish 2 – Again publishing has been mostly on schedule. A couple of posts were a day late, but I have a queue of 1 ahead of schedule right now so, progress. Yeah!
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – Much better idea of how it is going than I did a month ago. Game design, though poor, is done. Game creation got a lot of work done on it. I have been reading tutorials, watching tutorials, and searching error strings on Typescript and Angular 2. It is an experimental technology, but it is an experimental release. A good learning experience overall. Figuring out how to release it to the Google Play store is going to be interesting. Much more programming went on in February than January and still more will need to go on in March. It is surprisingly complicated for a simple game.
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months On Game Design – Very slow going this month. As I ramped up working on my own game, reading about design and such fell off. Also, I spent a fair amount of my reading/learning time on personal development instead of game design as I attempt to become more consistent on getting things done.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – You can read about most of it in this post that I wrote summarizing what I found and this post about Game Balance. It was not 1 a week. It was more like batched for the month in the first week or 2. I did get at least 1 per week done however. Now I just need to find some articles for March.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer Per Month – Absolutely nothing done with regards to this goal this month besides keeping the blog updated. This is an area that I need to study. I may even write a post about it this month and try an experiment or 2.

What Went Right

I was able to make a lot of progress on the code for Game #1 of 2016. Learned a lot about the new technologies of Typescript and Angular 2 and how they work. Learned a lot about game design. Got 2 post published every week and am 1 ahead of schedule even with a traveling weekend. Most importantly, I discovered some philosophical and mental ideas for how to be even more consistent and productive.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

At this point I should be play testing my game, not still building it. I still do not have a strategy or plan of any kind for getting people to read the blog.

Corrective Measures

Create a SMART (Specific Measurable Actionable Realistic Timebound) goal list for the creation and release of Game #1 of 2016. Study how to attract a community of readers and how to create value for them. Perhaps even find a course.

March Marketing Madness Begins!

January 2016 Goal Tracking

Life and jet lag have made getting this written difficult, and I even ended up writing the first draft of this on my phone.

In an attempt to maintain momentum on my yearly goals and to keep them fresh in my mind, I will be doing monthly reviews of my progress. I have not settled on a format so next months may be a little (or a lot) different. Also, originally I had thought that I would do it as the last post for the month, but since I am trying to write ahead somewhat, it will be the first post of the month sort of how the first post of the year is a previous year review and a new goal setting post.

This is the review for January.

Goals

  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week And Publish 2 – The publishing has been mostly on schedule even though the writing hasn’t quite been. A couple posts short, and I did not quite have the buffer I wanted for the year’s first disruptive event but still going strong.
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – Not sure how this is going yet. I have not finished the first paper prototype yet because it is a lot of writing. I feel like it should be a little further along so it may need to get a higher priority on time. I am however constantly getting good ideas from the book I am reading on game design.
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months On Game Design – I could not have picked a better book nor a worse book. It is so rich with great ideas and suggestions but also so long it may count for 2 books all on its own. On page 120 something of 520 or so pages and already 5 days into month 2.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – Mostly overlooked this month among all the other goals and things in my personal life, although I did at least watch 1 good video and read 1 good post. This definitely needs more attention and I should probably schedule it into my week better.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer – No known progress other than creating more content for this future audience to read which is important. I did sort of identify gamasutra as potential audience center so possibly getting some articles posted there or commenting on articles that are posted there may enable some audience build up.

What Went Right

All posts where published on time (except this one). Learned a lot about game design from reading and watching a talk and was able to apply it immediately on the game I am currently working on.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

I did not get as much reading done in the book on game design as I would like. There is 0 posts in the buffer at this moment. Did not finish the paper prototype of the game. Did not watch a video/ read an article every week.

Corrective Measures

In order to get to where I would like, I am going to set aside a specific time each day for writing, for reading, and for working on the game. Even if this means getting up earlier every morning so that I can stick to my goals for the year.

February 2016 Here I Come!