Monthly Archives: June 2015

E3 Day 3

E3 Day 3

One More Day Of Games, Games, Games!

Well, I made it to the last day of E3, and I still wasn’t burned out. I spent the first half of the day just walking around and checking out more stuff that I didn’t get to check out the past two days. I like games. I played several of the indie games at the Xbox and PlayStation booths.

Let’s see…

Cuphead

Very cool graphic style with solid, although standard, beat-em-up gameplay. At least the parts of the demo that I tried. Damn, that art though.

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Artsy, I guess. Lots of slow walking to get to the action. I did eventually make it to some enemies and I’m sure there is more to do, but it’s probably not best experienced at E3.

Snow

I already have this on Steam, mainly because: skiing and VR. Underwhelming so far. A little too fast and loose to be realistic, and too slow and stiff to be SSX. The environments look nice, but the physics model needs attention. Still optimistic, but it won’t stop me from working on my own VR skiing game.

(I’ll keep updating this to add more games as I get time)

CHEWIE!

Here’s a picture of Chewbacca for Scotty.

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Yeah, I watched the Deus Ex, Just Cause 3, and Hitman demos again. They all look very well done and I’d love to have enough time to play each of them. I’ll play them in the order  I listed them though.

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FOVE

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Fove is another one of the VR products being shown. They have a Kickstarter campaign, and the defining aspect of this product is the eye tracking technology in the headset. The resolution of the eye tracking seemed a little course, but it did work and they are pre-release. I’ll keep an eye on it (get it?).

I Know, Let’s Put On A Black Suit In 90° Weather

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Since I wanted to show my games to some more people, and get ready for the concert after the expo, I went out to the parking lot and put on my suit. Damn! It was warm outside.

It was worth it though, if I can look this classy while fighting a Revenant.

Doom E3 2015

Sony Bend In The House

As the expo was winding down I met up with a couple of guys from Sony Bend and showed them my games as well. We talked about VR, and how I would have to come visit them soon. We then grabbed some drinks as I waited for Scotty to drive up and meet me for…

STEEL PANTHER In Hollywood!

I capped off the day by heading up to Hollywood to see Steel Panther at the House Of Blues on Sunset! With a quick stop at the original Original Tommy’s to get some food on the way. Fuck yeah!

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E3 Day 2

E3 Day 2

Walk-Around-With-An-Oculus Day

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So, I decided that today would be the day to bring my laptop and Oculus Rift with me and show my games to anybody who is interested. I immediately noticed people with rolling luggage, which made my decision to use a backpack seem misinformed.

Fish

So, this is Fish from upcoming game, Nuclear Throne. It took a while to figure out who he is, and I still don’t know why he’s so sad. He is green though, so I got a picture with him.

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IndieCade

Stopped by the IndieCade booth to check out a local developer’s game: ChargeShot. I played a few rounds, and I’m pretty sure I got my butt kicked. It’s hard to say though, since I didn’t play long enough to understand how to process the chaos. Which is not to say it doesn’t make sense, I just wasn’t able to figure it out.

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry

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Fortunately, I don’t get angry very often.

Free Beer

Wandered over to the GameChurch booth and grabbed a free beer. They seem to be the only company that consistently has free beer. Which makes them awesome.

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Showing My Games In The Lobby

I ran into Nate again near the bar out in the South Hall lobby. They were getting ready to head to the airport, but had some time to check out my games. So, I grabbed a table near an outlet and set up my laptop and Oculus Rift. They checked out the games, and then after they left I stayed there and showed the games to various passers-by. Pretty much anyone who expressed interest in seeing a VR demo.

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IGDA Networking Event

IMG_20150617_201711After the expo ended for the day,  I walked up a block to the Hotel Figueroa for an IGDA networking event. I met several people at the party, including a couple of people who have recently started their own companies to pursue VR products. There seems to be quite a bit of interest in this VR stuff. I also met my complementary colored pal, George, pictured to the right. Then, out of the blue, I ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen since I was at school in Pasadena about 25 years ago.

Hotel Figueroa Pool

After exhausting my drink tickets, I made my way to the pool area of the hotel with Rich. There I ran into a couple people I had worked with at Atari and yet another developer at a VR startup. As I headed back to my car, a person waiting at an intersection with me noticed the Rift and asked if he could check out my games. So, we went to Starbucks and I set up the equipment and showed them off. I drove back to Costa Mesa and managed to get a few hours of sleep before the final day of E3.

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E3 Day 1

E3 Day 1

Arriving at the South Hall lobby

As always, E3 is a spectacle. There are huge banners everywhere, loud booths, enormous video screens, and hours-long lines. I started out the day getting my badge and hanging out in the South Hall lobby until the line to get in was gone.

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I got a picture in front of the Dark Souls III display, where you could pull on a sword stuck in the display and a giant death scene behind you would spew black blood several feet into the air.

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Then I waited to play Forza Horizon 2 at a Mazda promo booth right next to the Dark Souls III display. Then I walked over to the Samsung booth and tried the Gear VR. I played a space fighter game that used their Bluetooth gamepad, and they had swivel chairs to sit in so that you could spin around 360 degrees. It was similar to my asteroids game, but a bit more complex and flashy. The performance seems pretty good, and I’m sure it would run my games with no issues whatsoever. I think that the Gear VR would be a good platform to target, especially since it is already commercially available and you can purchase games on their store right now.

West Hall (VR/AR companies)

After the demo, I walked over to the West Hall, since that is where Oculus, Microsoft, Sony, and several other VR-related companies had booths. I went to the Oculus booth first, and was disappointed to see a line of people waiting just to try the Gear VR. The only Rift to be seen was in a display case at the front of the booth.

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I asked about developer relations, and they directed me to the back of the booth. When I got there and asked about developer relations, I was told that I had to have a prearranged appointment and that they were booked up already. Whee! So I guess I won’t be trying the consumer model or the new motion controllers this week. I then wandered around near the Oculus booth and checked out Ant VR (a cheaper-looking alternative to Oculus), Virtualizer and OMNI (both stationary treadmills for moving around in VR), and a couple other companies with motion control devices for VR: Manus Machina and Nod.

Microsoft and Tomb Raider

After being disappointed by the VR offerings and access, I walked over to Microsoft to see if they were showing the HoloLens. I was told that they were showing it in the Halo 5 demo. The line for the Halo 5 demo was pretty long, but I noticed that the Tomb Raider line was short, so I went ahead and waited for the Tomb Raider demo.

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The demo looked great. I’m pretty excited to play the next Tomb Raider, since I really enjoyed the last one. I think it was the best 3D-enabled game that I’ve ever played. I don’t know when I’ll be able to play it though, since I have no plans to get an Xbox One and they have limited exclusivity on release. I watched some people playing various games, such as Mad Max,

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Gigantic, some magnetic-based physics puzzler game, but nothing struck me as ground breaking even if they all looked like solid games.

Sony and Nintendo

I checked out Sony next with hopes of seeing the Morpheus. There were lots of kiosks with indie games, which was cool to see. Many of them looked like fun. I feel like I may get a PS4 this holiday season. They had a line to see Horizon, The Last Guardian, and Uncharted 4, but I didn’t wait for it.

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Horizon is apparently about a future world where humans have devolved while robots have evolved to the point that you are future caveman fighting robot dinosaurs. I’ve heard several people say that it looked awesome. I then went to the Morpheus area, where they were showing about 10 different demos.

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According to the signs, you have to download an app to schedule a demo of the Morpheus. Something I will do as soon as I can get a connection with my phone. Across from the Morpheus display was Star Wars Battlefront. It looks awesome, even if it is just another Battlefront game. They did have a couple of Stormtroopers that you took your picture with, after waiting in line to play the game.

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I then went to the Nintendo booth to see what they had. There was a big display for Super Mario Maker.

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Basically an editor for Super Mario. I suspect it’s because I already make games, but the idea of a game editor as a game doesn’t really appeal to me. It sure seemed to draw a crowd though. I spent most of my time watching the Wii U Star Fox game.

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It was Star Fox in HD. Don’t fix what ain’t broken. The gamepad display showed a first-person view from the cockpit, which you could use for more precise aiming. I didn’t see any of the people playing the game look at it though. I did watch for a while, since I’m planning to do a VR version of that game with Ed someday.

South Hall

After not getting to see any of the VR stuff that I wanted to see, I went back to the South Hall. EA was front and center. Huge screens ran a continuous loop of demos for their premiere games. There was a snow speeder display and speeder bike that you could get your picture on. I didn’t wait for that. I watched some more of the Star Wars Battlefront game as dozens of people were playing it.

Then I walked over to Square Enix and watched a short video presentation of Deus Ex and Just Cause 3. Both looked great, and I’m sure I’ll play them both.

As I was walking past the Twitch booth, I saw Tim Schafer from Double Fine just finishing up an interview. So, of course, I walked over and said hi and got another picture with him.

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I have an uncanny ability to unintentionally stalk him. Which is cool, because he’s my favorite game designer and he’s always fun to talk to. He even remembered me this time. After that I walked around the smaller booths at the back of the hall and saw a few VR products that I will go back to see when the lines are shorter. I ran into Nate and Ginger, both of whom I had worked with at Buzz Monkey and Zynga.

Into The Pixel

The last hour of the day, I went to a reception at the Into The Pixel art exhibit located off the West Hall lobby. I met Nate and some of his coworkers from Sucker Punch there. I also said hi to Ted Price from Insomniac Games, who we had worked with when we were still Buzz Monkey on a couple of the Ratchet And Clank games.

Heading Back To The OC

I didn’t stick around for any after show stuff today, since I’d like to get some rest for tomorrow. I did stop by and see my cousin’s mom, Marion, in Naples on the way home. We had a bottle of wine and talked for while. It was a nice way to relax after a day in L.A.

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Going Back To Cali

Taking My Games To E3

Well, I’ve pretty much got my games in a playable state and I’m ready to head down to L.A. for E3. I’m planning to take my games to E3 on the second day and try to find a place in the lobby to set up and show them to whomever wants to see them. I’d also love to show them to any companies, if they are interested.

Windows 8.1 Laptop. Meh.

I got a laptop at Costco on Monday so that I have something on which to run the games. It has Windows 8.1 on it, so that’s been fun to learn. I pretty much stay in desktop mode, but every once in a while Windows uses an app to open a file. That’s pretty annoying, because apps can’t be moved and re-sized like normal windows. I’ll probably be returning this laptop before the 90 day return period runs out, since they have better laptops online for the same price.

Laptop And Oculus

I was having some issues getting the games to run on the laptop and the DK1 on Tuesday. The good news is that Unity 5.1 came out on Tuesday with native support for VR, which means Oculus for now. The bad news is that I still can’t get my standalone builds to show up on the DK1, so I have to run the games from the editor. This has a slight affect on performance, so the games have some frame stutters at times. At least I can play the games on the laptop though.

I still need to add menus to the games and some in-game command maps would be nice as well. I’ll be walking people through the demos for now, so that shouldn’t be a big problem at this point. Those are definitely things that I’ll need to add before uploading the games to the Oculus share site.

Screeching Weasel

We’re heading up to Portland to see Screeching Weasel at the Crystal Ballroom tonight. We’ll stay at the Crystal Hotel and then I’ll be flying out of PDX tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be staying with my brother in Costa Mesa and my friend, Scott, in Aliso Viejo while I’m down there. It’s gonna be a crazy week.

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Open For Business

I’m pretty much done with the preliminary steps of setting up the business. I feel confident about knowing to whom to talk about various business issues, and when to do so.

Sole Manager

Basically, I’m the only person working for my company. For all intents and purposes, the company and I are one. I can contribute to and draw from the business account freely. I have to make sure to withhold 25-30% of any revenue that I get to cover various taxes (federal, state, self-employment, etc.). My accountant recommended opening a savings account and automatically putting the tax withholding in there whenever I make a deposit.

I can hire contractors, but there are very specific rules for somebody to be considered a contractor.  The Oregon web site has the relevant info.

SBDC

I’ve been told by multiple people now that the SBDC is a great resource, which should be used as much as is helpful. I got some good info out of my first meeting there. I learned about the flow of money as it comes into the company, covers costs, and pays me. I also was told about the various services that the SBDC provides and some of the people who I should meet with. One of those people is the marketing/communication guy, who I met with on Thursday morning. He’s helping me to make sure I have my branding and presence intentionally planned out. My consultant also extolled the virtues of RAIN, the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network, and suggested that I try to get accepted into their next cohort.

I’m also getting set up with a bunch of free services that I can use to work on my business plan. One of which is LivePlan, which is apparently the de facto standard for developing and structuring business plans. There are also various resources for learning about different aspects of running a company.

Basically, if you’re starting a business, go talk to the SBDC. Especially if you haven’t done this before. You can meet with them as frequently as you need, and they have several people who specialize in different aspects of operating a business. Plus, it don’t cost nothin’.

Accounting Stuff

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the accounting is actually a lot simpler and more sensible than I expected. I was expecting to have to keep track of all kinds of information for tax purposes. It turns out that you just need to document as well as possible, using whatever method works for you. The primary number that the government is interested in is the gross income. The other numbers come into play when you deduct business expenses. As long as you document it, and it’s an acceptable business expense, you’re golden.

Another thing to consider is setting up my back room as an office. Apparently, that’s not so hard to track either. The percentage of the household expenses that apply to the business is pretty much the percentage of the floor space that the office occupies. You just need to make sure that you document it. It does have to be a legitimate office space though, so make sure it’s separated from your personal use, much like the business bank account.

Marketing and Branding

I met with another consultant at the SBDC who is familiar with marketing and branding for businesses. He had some interesting ideas and suggestions. He seemed pretty excited about the name of my company and is going to send me some rough concepts for logos and presence. He also recommended that I meet with another guy from the SBDC, who knows about SEO, advertising, and linking various services together. I made an appointment with him, it’s only about 3 months out.

Legal Representation

My last meeting for the week was with Endeavor Law. This was just a casual meeting to get to know each other. I basically wanted to know when I would want to contact them. The legal aspects are mostly related to ownership. Before I sign a contract, hire a contractor, or publish a product, I want to ask them to review the details. They’ll give me an initial estimate before I agree to go forward with the consultation. They certainly seem to know most of the game developers in town and they have worked with a lot of startups, so I trust that they know what they’re doing.

Business Cards

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I got my first batch of business cards. I don’t have a logo yet, so I went with a QR code that goes to the contact page of my web site. It looks alright, but I’ll be ordering more when I have a logo.

What’s Next

Back to the games. I’m going to be working this week to finish up VR Meteors and VR Missile Control to take down to E3 with me. I’ll also be putting up a static web page with the information that people will want to see when they visit. I also need to work on my business plan so that I can send it in to the SEA program within 30 days.

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