We are joined this week by the funny, nice, and multi-talented Carlos Rodela. Boy, has he ever done a lot of stuff in his life. He’s been a musician, a tech/games journalist, a prolific podcaster (Video Game Break), a video producer…And now he does game dev and social media and other things at Big Fish Games. We talk about news, game development tools, and—as always—what we’re playing.
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News & Views
- Splatoon is doing a big new update August 5th. The level cap will go from 20 to 50! Also, there are new multiplayer modes that make it easier to get paired up with your friends. Carlos observes that Nintendo has been a bit behind the curve when it comes to online play: “Oh, there’s an Internet!” Like us, Carlos likes the fresh nonviolent shooting mechanic that Splatoon offers. Carlos talks about Bomberman, an old-school game where you “bomb” your friends and make merry that way.
- Steam accounts were compromised over the weekend but it doesn’t seem like it was a very big deal. We wonder what Steam Guard is. For your edification, it’s something you can enable on your Steam account and then “anyone attempting to login to your Steam account from an unrecognised device must provide additional authorization.” We spent some time trying to figure out what horrible thing might happen to you if your Steam account had gotten hijacked (apparently credit card information would not have been compromised). Possibly the worst that can happen is that if a person hijacks your account and then does bad things with it (behaves badly in an online game), your account could get banned and it would take a while to get it straightened out. But it seems like a good idea to enable Steam Guard in any case.
- The new Hearthstone expansion Grand Tournament will get you a more than 100 new cards and something called the “inspire” effect. Nicole’s pretty excited about this. She’s pretty exciting about anything Hearthstone related. She’s thankful for the ability to “squelch” players who use the pre-programmed communications in irritating ways. Carlos isn’t a fan of playing online. He won’t even play Helldivers with his friends online. Actually, Carlos has played a ton of games online, but he prefers the single-player experience. He wants to go home and just chill out all by himself.
- Professional gamers are going to be tested for drugs by the ESA after a player said he’d used Adderall during matches to improve his focus. Turns out esports have a lot of pressure associated with them (just like regular sports). Speaking of drugs, we talk about the coffee filter crisis in the Pixelkin office.
- Minecraft has announced a new Greek Mythology Pack. We talk about the amazing educational potential of Minecraft (and other games). Microsoft has a new site for teaching with Minecraft.
Game Development for Kids—and Everyone
We talk with Carlos about a range of resources for kids who want to learn to program and/or make their own games. Nowadays there are all these games that are games first, but they’re actually also game-development tools. (Minecraft, Project Spark, Roblox, LittleBigPlanet, Disney Infinity Toy Box mode, and the forthcoming Mario Maker fit this category.) Carlos recommends Construct 2 as a tool to make HTML5 games. Stencyl, Game Salad, Game Maker Studio are good tools too. (Nathan Meunier made a video for Pixelkin showing you how to make a game with Game Maker.)
With these tools you can often just drag and drop items to create your game, but it does take some planning to make a good game. And if you’re more advanced, there’s also Unreal Engine. Carlos made a game called That Gold Is Mine about a little old man who has to go into a platforming world to get his gold back.
Carlos does a lot of storyboarding when he makes games. Then he lays the basics down, makes the maps (which is really kind of difficult), and goes from there. There’s a lot of testing that needs to go on before your game can be really good. Tools to create choose-your-own adventures games, like Quest and Twine, are great.
We go on a little tangent about the National Novel-Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, which encourages people to write 50,000 words in November. Winners get a little certificate for all that work.
So, to summarize, Carlos says to just go ahead and MAKE something. Game development can start small. Make one level of a game. Just try. Make your bugs into features. Learn about storytelling. You need only one game mechanic—one idea—to get started. And then you can go from there.
And maybe enter your game (or even your game idea) in a contest, like the BAFTA awards. (We should be more like England, where the BBC is giving all their 11-year-olds little computers to encourage them to learn programming.)
What We Played
- The Witcher 3 is a relaxation zone for Carlos. He likes it so much he plays it even though he’s already beat the game. Games can be a safe, relaxing “home” for you, especially if the rest of your life isn’t so relaxing. He also recommends Choice of Robots, a text adventure game that made Carlos shed a tear. One Dreamer is another one Carlos thinks is great for its beautiful narration, music, and graphics. His description reminds us of Bastion and Transistor. Gummy Drop is a popular Big Fish Game that Carlos also plays, but the timed levels are too much pressure.
- Simone downloaded a racing game called Drive Club. She likes racing games, but it’s pretty hard to play. Simone blames Crossy Road for causing terrible stress, but she can’t stop. And she’s playing Alphabear. Of course. We all are.
- Linda played Crossy Road, Alphabear, Breath of Light. And little Assassin’s Creed Unity. A very little.
- Nicole is playing Alphabear, Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, and Viva Piñata, a delightful series of games. Nicole’s also been playing more Breath of Light, which is a very relaxing game.
- Rare Replay is coming out in August for Xbox, a collection of retro games for not a lot of money.
- Carlos talks about the legendary and foul-mouthed iconic video game character Conker the Squirrel, which is now a part of the Project Spark game/game dev universe.
This podcast was recorded in the studios of the Jack Straw Cultural Center in Seattle. The music is by Pat Goodwin at Novelty Shop Creative. Nicole Tanner, Linda Breneman, Simone de Rochefort, and Carlos Rodela (@onawa on Twitter) participated in this podcast. Thanks for listening and if you liked this episode, please rate us on iTunes!