Beautifun Games

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A crazy week full of events! PAD, Gamelab and Indie Burger Developer Awards

If we had to point out a particularly good week in the whole year to be a game developer in Barcelona, that will definitely be the previous one. We enjoyed the successive celebration of three gamedev events in a row! Two of them international: Gamelab and P.A.D. Congress, and the third one, the Burger Developers Awards, which is focused on having fun with the local Spanish indie scene (But everyone's invited!). So get ready for a tour in which we'll introduce you some of the greatest stuff that happened during the last (and very intense) days! 

P.A.D. - Professional Associated Developers Congress.

After P.A.D. Congress we had the pleasure to take dinner with the nice people from the organization, like Eva Gaspar, Nacho García and Ricardo Fernández (Abylight), Nicklas Dunham (Gamingcorps), also Dajana Dimovska (Knapnok Games) and Laura Suárez (Devilish Games).

Gamelab Barcelona 2014.

Kevin participated in a very interesting roundtable during Gamelab where, along with other three indie developers, they centered on exposing and analyzing the weak and strong points of being an indie developer and also on giving some advices to other aspiring game developers. He was in the company of Jordi De Paco (from our friend studio Deconstructeam), Mattis Delerud (DOS Studios) and the moderator was Juan Gril (Joju Games).

The first morning at the Gamelab we had a great lunch with a nice group of developers and journalists. As you can see in the faces of the ones who are sitting, that meeting was truly enjoyable.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The BeautiFun Team Stories - Elias Pereiras - Programmer - Part II

Jesús Fabre: Why did you applied for Computer Science? Where does your passion for this field comes from?

Elias Pereiras: After I finished highschool I was pretty lost about what would be my next step, I started to try out different options that could be suitable for my skills and that didn't require me to move out of home. As I always loved Maths, thought it could be a good choice to try my luck and try to be a matematician, but nothing was further from reality. Soon I discovered that math-related abstract thinking was not my thing at all, and started to think intensely about which road to take. So I finally decided to do Computer Science for the simple reason that I've been always in touch with computers and technology in general, and I liked it. I was lucky enough to find what could be the closest thing to a vocation for me. Without being a genius, I have to admit that I was good at computers, and also enjoyed very much almost every subject I studied during the whole degree. Some colleagues complained a bit about how boring or difficult some topics were, but I always took in consideration that all that knowledge would be useful at some point in my future career, and perhaps this was the main reason why the grades I got were quite high.

JF: What did you enjoyed the most from your degree?

EP: I loved programming, more in concrete that feeling we all have when we don't know anything and then start to make good progresses from scratch. Then comes the moment when you discover you can make things you believed were impossible. Respecting programming languages, the ones I worked more intensely with during my studies where C, Java, and... the ancient and venerable Modula 2! I know it sounds totally weird and hard to believe, but during the first year we learned programming in that language, I still look at the sky and keep wondering why that happened. On the other side we didn't learn a single thing about the powerful and widely used C++ (that I had to learn at home, during my free time).

JF: And when you finished you degree, did you already had an idea of what you wanted to do?

EP: Enjoyed programming, but have to admit I had no idea of where to apply my skills. I've always loved games and was interested in being part of the industry, but also knew it was really hard to be part of it, I saw that as a real challlenge. When I was in the last year of my degree in the University of Santiago de Compostela, I noticed that the topics offered for the final project weren't attractive enough for me (databases, network programming, robotics, but nothing related to computer graphics). Then I took the decision of going out and pursue a career in game development, that brought me to Barcelona, where I attended Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona (UPC). There I studied the last year of my degree and then a Masters in videogame development.

JF: How was your first year studying in Barcelona?

EP: The first thing I did, even before going to Barcelona, was to configure the subjects I wanted to learn in my last course at UPC. I tried to do every optional subject related to computer graphics, what took me to learn a lot, studying during around 8 to 9 hours a day, and in consecuence focus my final project intensely on working with graphics. Finally I got to finish the project, a flying simulation game for Android. Must admit the teachers loved the project and it got the maximum qualifications. It ended up published on the Google Play Store, if any of you want to try it, you can find it for a dollar under the name World Air Race.

JF: How was the experience at the UPC Masters and why did you choose that one and not another?

EP: The main reason for me was that their studies covered art and programming, nevertheless afterwards I noticed that the programming part wasn't as strong as I expected. The most useful point of doing a Master in videogame development for me is that you can meet tons of people who are also passionate about the idea of creating games, so you have several candidates to team up and create a game. This single point is not insignificant at all, especially when you think that in Spain nobody contracts a novice programmer without seeing at least a finished game. If you take a look around at the Masters you can apply for in Spain, you'll find they use to be quite expensive for our general economic level. So if you don't have the money I'd recommend you to go your own way and try to develop games on your own. If you can find some friends to learn from and share thoughts it will be even better. Also those people can be found at game jams, game development events, and the like.

JF: Just the very first day of the Masters you had to form a group to develop your final game project, that will be presented at the end of the course. Could you go a bit more into the details of that process and the game you developed?

EP: It was something that caught my attention a lot: the fact that on the first day we had to form a group and also decide about the game we wanted to develop, all without barely knowing each other. I would have waited a few weeks to let the students form the groups and decide the games they wanted to develop in a more natural fashion, taking their affinities into account. In our case, we were fortunate to to agree in the creation of an all vs. all arena game, which we'd call Playtime Stories and that will be set in a very typical western school. As we didn't want to reduce the game to a shoot'em all mechanic, we added some depth with narrative events during the game, and also adding the costumes mechanic, which add tons of dinamism to the game. To explain it better, imagine you are a cowboy at a certain point, and if somebody gets closer to you with hostile attitude, then you can switch your costume to a viking instantly and take advantage of that costume special skills, that is much more effective for melee attacks. Was a hard work to think about each costume's special properties and also to balance them.

JF: What were the biggest challenges during the development of Playtime Stores?

EP: The development lasted a year (a whole academic course), and the busiest time was during Summer. We had to focus on defining all the cases that could appear, goals of the game, narrative events, costumes, skills, characters (and their respective design), also defining the costume switch mechanics, etc. This first part of game design - although it didn't require of any technical knowledge - was really exhausting. The game's artificial inteligence system also deserves a special mention, since we were defining many state diagrams to get the most natural behaviour possible out of the characters controlled by the computer. For this, we took Quake 3 Arena AI design document as reference, there each AI had its own long-term goal (i.e. win the match), another mid-term goal (i.e. kill that player I just saw and has a quite low life level), and a third and short-term one (i.e. get closer to that player). Also it's curious what happened with the game art, since we didn't have any dedicated artist. We were really lucky because the four of us were really passionated about the project and all of us worked into artistic tasks and combined them with our respective functions. I helped out in this aspect, doing some scenarios and characters modeling, I did textures, UVs deployment (that consists in establishing the match between the 3D model vertex and a flat texture that will later be applied to the model, so it will look like the texture has been adapted by hand). In conclusion, I can tell you that the project was super gruelling, we were too ambitious and had to polish quite a lot of stuff. Even had to delete some parts of the game that were already implemented to keep the coherence of what we could technically present. To help you make an idea, Playtime Stories initially was going to have only four characters, with three costumes each and three skills for each costume. Seeing how much it took us to create only a couple of characters with two costumes and skills each, I believe this work could have taken us several years to finish. Think we aren't talking only about doing the animations separately, we had to think about each and every combination of them in sequence, and make the transitions as smooth as we could. We go a step harder when we adopted a third person camera, what costed us a lot to program correctly.

JF: How was the feedback received once you presented the game? did you wanted to take it further than a simple student project?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

BeautiFun News and Discoveries Ep. 20

We participated in the book "The Art and Design of Video Games", published by Dutch magazine EYE for Games.

Rai Sewgobind, director at EFG and her crew have been working really hard on a book to gather more than 20 indie devs and compile beautiful game art pieces accompanied with very interesting in-depth interviews to their authors and also who used them game designers in their respective game universes. Our interview is mainly focused on the creatures inhabiting the world of Nihilumbra. We talk about how was the creative process behind them, our main references, their role in the game universe... definitely a full blown bestiary of what can be created out from the Void.

Extensive Nihilumbra Making of at Grab-It Magazine.

It can take everybody by surprise when you see how fast they've grown up, but its totally understandable when you see how they are making their own way through a very serious, honest and compromised work. I'm talking about Grab It Magazine, whose next issue will be available soon in the App Store! Check it out if you can, it includes an extensive and thorough postmortem of Nihilumbra, full of interesting and unpublished insights. Here you can purchase only the part containing the Nihilumbra post-mortem.

Gaming for Good gratitude video

As some of you may remember, at the end of the past year we colaborated with a good number of Nihilumbra keys to the Gaming for Good initiative. It consists basically of a web portal where anybody can buy their digital games and all the revenue goes directly to NGO Save the Children. A few days ago they surprised us with this moving video, in which their promoters/coordinators, youtubers Athene and Reese Leysen, thanked us for our support and showed a bit of where the money of our sold games is going.

We backed, and recommend you to back: Spaceteam Almiral's Club and BEARZERKERS!

-Access to the full subscription form here.