How are things going with you? I'm doing okay here. Had a really tired period, but I think I'm recovering. I just took my first Shakespeare test (my hand is still sore from all that writing) and it went pretty well. I definitely got some questions wrong, but I thought I had about as good a handle on the material as I could have. Now to read another play before Thursday!
In other news, I've been working on the Carleton Graphic site with Jacob Canfield. On the home page, we have a simple sort of blog. For now, it mostly will just alert people to the new issues and give a bit of commentary, but we may move more toward actually talking about other stuff like commentary on comics news or reviews/recommendations of comics that we're reading. The read page is pretty awesome, you can read the issues online or download every issue, and you can also sort by author or storyline. It's pretty neat, and we're really proud of it, so check it out! You can even like it with your Facebook account (or like our Facebook page!). Also, keep in mind, alumni, prospective students, students, other people, spambots, etc, YOU can contribute, too! Send us your comics, and we'll publish them! Man, can you imagine a spambot's comics? It would be like randomly generated using google images.
But enough about Carleton Graphic, I just did a whole post about that. I wanted to talk about something near and dear to my heart. Video games! Well, more specifically, making video games. If you've read my blog much, you'll know that I love linking to the Official Hamster Republic Role Playing Game creation engine (OHRRPGCE) and Game Maker, two of the best free game creation programs out there. I spent countless hours as a kid playing around in programs like these, trying to make something awesome, getting sparks of inspiration here and there, and just being creative. I think that trying to make video games really helped to balance my natural desire to play video games. Instead of only being a consumer I also thought about how games were made, and what makes a good game, and I tried to put those things into practice. I didn't really succeed, ever. It's really interesting actually, I've never made anything even remotely close to a finished game, but I keep doing it. I've been doing it for probably around ten years. But I think it's a good exercise and somehow I don't regret any of those many hours I've spent trying to make games. Weird. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? Can you relate to this? Have you ever kept doing something, and getting better at it, even though you never come close to succeeding?
A game I started around Freshman year of Carleton with Gameboy style graphics (160 × 144 resolution, 4 colors (that is, black, dark gray, light gray, white)). It was supposed to be pretty strategic, real-time combat-centric, which is hilarious, because AI is really really hard, and I have no idea how I thought I could do that.
Well, OHRRPGCE is still putting along, releasing a new version once or twice a year. Every time they do, I get excited for all the new features, even though I don't really use OHRRPGCE much anymore. But OHRRPGCE was and will continue to be a really really cool, really limited, humble, and fun program.
Game Maker's future is a little more worrying to me. At first it was just made and developed by this pretty random, extremely awesome man, Mark Overmars, a professor at Utrecht University (I wanted to go there when I was ten, just for that). Then it started getting marketed and developed by Yoyogames, which was fine for a while. Yoyogames helped to build up more a community by highlighting games and allowing people to review other games (although 99% of the reviews were 99% worthless). It was a fine, if slow and extremely ad-ful, site.
But just over the past year or so, the new yoyogames.com has come, and it really changes the tone of what Game Maker is all about. It's black. It's shiny. It's about "professionalism" and being all grown up and in the iPod App store. When the site was in development, Yoyogames talked about how there would be increased community involvement and social networking, but there just are not any features like that at all. Fortunately, you can still find the old site, with all the community games within the bowels of the new site, but it's not particularly easy or inviting. It just seems really sad that they promised one thing, but delivered something that's pretty much the opposite. I get that Yoyogames is a company, and companies need to make money, but I wish that Yoyogames didn't have to ignore the roots of Game Maker completely. They seem ashamed of all the awful games that random kids made, but I think that's what it's always been about. Game Maker was and is incredible because it allows absolutely anyone to make a game.
The actually bad part is that they make it extraordinarily difficult to download the free "Lite" version of GM. I just checked, and it take 6 mouse clicks to get to the free download from the home page, assuming you know your way through the dusty passageways to get there. I'm okay with them raising the price of the full edition to $40, and making a $200 (!?$200??) HTML5 version. I'm really fine with that, because the free version is still very powerful and flexible. But it's just kind of absurd to make the free version so darn hard to find! Six clicks? Really?
Well, if you want to make some games, click here. I went and found the link for you. And if you have a kid or sibling or something like that who is really into video games, tell them to check it out!
10-4, Over and out!