Extra Life Gaming Marathon 2

Extra Life
The Extra Life gaming marathon is happening on Nov. 4 (Sat) this year. I’ll be playing video games for 25 hours (thanks to daylight saving time ending that night) starting at 8:00am. The purpose of the marathon is to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, and my donations will go to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in particular. It also gives me an excuse to try out 25 games that I have purchased, but have not played yet for whatever reason.

Since I raised $165 last year, which was over my goal of $100, I’ve doubled my fundraising goal to $200. In exchange for the increased goal, I’m going to attempt to stream the games this year. I’ll also try to get a headset working so that you can hear my random commentary while I play, and perhaps even hear me shout obscenities when a game is being stupid. I’ve been testing some streams on YouTube and Twitch so far, and I am leaning toward YouTube at the moment.

Extra Life 2017 Game List
I’ve created a form which lists all of the games which I will have ready to play. You can click the link above to see the list. You can also vote for any games that you would like to see me play, which will give them priority. Similar to last year, I will be playing each game for 1 hour, and these are all games which I have not played yet. If I have any technical issues, I’ll simply move onto the next game.

If you feel like donating (which is tax-deductible, by the way), click this banner:

I think Helen Lovejoy said it best, when she said: Won’t somebody please think of the children?!?

Thanks, and pay attention to my social media channels during the event to get links to the streams and other updates.

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Extra Life Gaming Marathon

Extra Life

On Saturday, November 5, I’ll be participating in the Extra Life charity event. I’ll be playing video games for 24 hours, starting at 8am, to raise money for PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center.

If you would like to donate to the cause, visit my page at: TGIFrydave Extra Life Page

Or click on this thing:

Game Plan

I’ll be putting together a list of 24 games for the event, with some backups just in case. There will be PC, console, and mobile games, with several in VR. My plan is to play each game for at least an hour, and see how far down the list I can get. If I happen to come across a game that I want to play for longer, then that’s what’s going to happen.

I’ll be posting to my social media accounts to keep a running update of my progress. I’ll also be trying to set up some software to allow streaming for games that are compatible with it. Console and mobile titles will not be streamable, unless I can find a web cam in my pile of hardware.

Feel free to check in on me during the event to see how far I’ve made it, or just to heckle me for my game choices. Game on!

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Cartoon Network Game Jam

The second weekend of February, I participated in the Cartoon Network Game Jam. I was on the Fat Little Rain Cloud team, which was 6 developers based out of Eugene: Ted Brown, Ed Friese, Michael Jones, Jay Michael McCarthy, and Peng Xu.

cartoon-network-game-jam

We got to Portland Fryday afternoon, and dropped off some equipment before we went and checked into our hotel rooms. Yeah, we didn’t go all badass and stay up for the whole weekend. We’ve all been doing this long enough to know that you can work better when you’re well rested.

After getting checked in, there was a keynote talk with the organizers and the creators of OK, K.O.! They explained a bit about the characters and universe, the idea behind the property, and how the game jam fits into it.

They then randomly assigned a character to each team, and we got to work. Our character was Dogmun. A dog who was bitten by a radioactive dog and became half-man/half-dog. Yeah, it makes as much sense as it sounds.

So, we headed for the nearest bar and started brainstorming ideas for the game. We tried to come up with super powers related to every type of dog behavior that we could think of. Everything from sniffing butts, to peeing on things, to burying stuff, and eventually fetching. We ended up making his super power be the ability to throw his own ball, and do a rocket fetch move that lets him fly through the air and crash through objects. After deciding on the mechanic, we got the project set up and ready to go before we headed back to the hotel.

The next morning, we got to work on the gameplay and animations. There was still some discussion about the background story for the game and how the details would work. We started with a 3D platforming game, and had it up and running in a couple hours. We quickly realized that the 3D controls were too confusing, and we switched to a 2D platformer. That gave us the ability to control the arc and strength of the throw, instead of simply aiming the ball. It felt much better, was easier to understand, and made the level layout simpler.

The end result was a game where you would tap on the screen to tell Dogmun to walk to a position. If you tapped and held the screen, you could drag your finger to aim a throw like a slingshot, in a similar manner to Angry Birds. If you tapped the screen while a ball was in the air, then Dogmun would fly to the ball at high speed and fetch it, while destroying almost anything in his path.

Overall, it was a fun mechanic, and we had it up and running on the PC and mobile. Everybody who tested it seemed to have fun with it, and it was exciting to see how quickly they figured out how to play.

Every team received feedback on their game from the OK K.O. creators, and was allowed to work on the games to address the feedback over the next few weeks. We cleaned up some stuff and finished up the puzzles for our demo level, and…

We placed in the top 16!

cartoon-network-game-jam-interview

We won $3000 for the team, and were interviewed for a special that may air on Cartoon Network someday. All in all, a pretty successful first game jam I’d say.

I believe that once the special airs, I may be able to post a link to the game. Either Cartoon Network will post some of the games online, or we can use the game without their characters and publish it ourselves. We’ll see what happens.

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Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Well, it’s Spring, so I suppose I should clean out my backlog of things that I should have posted since my birthday. Here’s a quick preview of the stuff I’ll be writing about soon. I’m not going to bother with pictures in this post, since it’s just a preview.

Cartoon Network Game Jam

First of all, the week after my birthday I participated in the Cartoon Network Game Jam in Portland. This kind of derailed my blogging, since I wanted to post about it but wasn’t sure if I could legally. Since Cartoon Network posted about it here: JAMMIN’ WITH OK, K.O.!, I suppose it’s OK for me to post about it now. In fact, the finalists are going to be announced this Sunday (5/1) and the winner will be announced next week.

Game Releases

I did post about my game releases, briefly. I’ll post more about some of the implementation and update details. I suppose it’s mainly for my records, but it may be interesting to somebody else as well.

I made a decision to release the games with the basic gameplay remade in VR, and as close to the functionality of the arcade games as I could get. So, basically they have all of the features, save high scores locally, are fully functional, and will always be free.

I’ll be doing some small updates to all of them to add analytics, extra controller support, and some other minor fixes and tweaks. I even added a leaderboard and achievements for VR Battletank on Android. I’ll be adding them to the other games soon.

After getting the basic framework done, I’ll be adding enhanced content to each of them as time allows.

Pipeworks Labs

The main reason that I’ve been slow to update my games and make blog posts is because I started a year-long project at Pipeworks new division, Pipeworks Labs, in March.

It’s a therapeutic VR project, which means it’s not technically a game. The great thing is that Pipeworks is cool enough to not have a non-compete clause,  so I’ll still be able to work on my own projects during my spare time.

Oculus Rift

The consumer version of the Oculus Rift finally started shipping at the end of March. I got mine the first week, and it’s awesome. I’ve played several games and experiences, and I’ll go into more detail in a later post. The game I’ve played the most so far is Elite Dangerous. I bought a Thrustmaster Flight Stick for this game, and it’s been a blast. I’ve played over 20 hours so far, and I think I’ve accomplished 2 or 3 tasks. I still don’t have much of clue what I’m doing, but it’s so fun flying around I don’t really care yet.

Oregon Game Project Challenge

I spent a day up in Salem last Saturday being a judge for the OGPC 9.0. I was a Game Design judge for several game projects that were made by teams of High School, and some Middle School, students. It was quite impressive to see what these kids came up with, and I’ll point out some of the stuff that stood out to me.

I’ll be pestering you with social media posts soon enough. In the meantime, go play my games:

VR Meteors

VR Missile Control

VR Battletank

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VR Battletank Released!

VR Battletank Released!

Feature Graphic 1024x500

It’s a trifecta! Out Of My Mind Games has a trio of games available for you to play now.

See? I told you in my last post that it was coming soon.

Get It Now

You can download VR Battletank from Google Play or WEARVR below:

Get it on Google Play

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Game Info

Strap on your headset and head out to the desolate virtual wastelands where you will face off against enemy tanks and missiles. Avoid the obstacles and shoot the flying saucers for big points, if you have the chance.

Controls

The controls are a little different, but simple to learn. You use each thumbstick on the gamepad to control the respective tank tread. If you push forward on the left thumbstick, then the left side of the tank moves forward. If you pull backward on the right thumbstick, then the right side of the tank moves backward. And vice versa. With the headset, you are now able to freely look around to locate your targets. However, the tank will always fire the direction that it is facing, as indicated by the reticle. You’ll need to maneuver the tank into position to make the shot.

If you play the Cardboard version, the default settings enable tilt and look to turn controls. That means that you can tilt the viewer left/right to turn left/right, and tilt forward/backward to move forward/backward. You can also turn your head and the tank will turn to face the same direction. Each of these settings is adjustable from the menu.

What’s Next

Next on my plate is an update for VR Discs Of Golf. Leap Motion has just released a new version of their software that is optimized for VR input. According to some demo videos that I have watched, the tracking is much better than the old software. I’m excited to put better motion controls back into the game.

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VR Missile Control Released!

VR Missile Control Released!

Feature Graphic 1024x500

*AIR RAID SIREN*

Beware! Incoming missiles are threatening your cities. Shoot them out of the sky before they hit their targets.

Get Your Copy Now

VR Missile Control is now available to download from the Google Play store.

Get it on Google Play

It’s also available on WEARVR.

WEARVR

If you feel like waiting for an undisclosed amount of time, you’ll be able to get it from the Oculus Share site. There’s no reason to wait though, since Oculus is so slow to review builds that it’ll always be behind the above builds.

More Info

VR Missile Control has been designed to work with one button input, so you can use it with your Google Cardboard viewer. It also supports some common gamepads for both Windows and Android. I’ll be putting a WebGL version up on my web site soon, after I make some minor tweaks to the mouse controls. Check it out and let me know what you think.

The current build is version 1.0.1, which means that the core gameplay is in place with no known bugs. I’ll be adding enhanced VR and gameplay features in future versions. Fun stuff, like new weapons, new enemies, full 3D UI layouts, new effects, and whatever else comes to mind.

Coming soon: VR Battletank

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VR Meteors Released!

VR Meteors Released!

VR Meteors Title ScreenIt finally happened! I released VR Meteors for Cardboard on the Google Play store. I also submitted a Windows version for Oculus Rift to the Oculus Share page, which may take a few weeks to be approved. I’ll announce when it’s available, don’t worry.

Phase 1 of my business plan is complete.

Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3
Release VR Meteors ? Profit

For those of you with an Android device, grab your Cardboard viewer and check it out. It’s free!

If you missed the link above, just click here:

Get it on Google Play

For those of you with Windows and an Oculus Rift, you can grab the first playable version from the Share site now at: VR Meteors for Oculus Rift. If you want to play the release version, you’ll have to wait until Oculus approves it or you can download the file from here: VR Meteors 1.0

For those of you with a Gear VR, I’ll be releasing a version for you soon. I just need to find somebody who has a Gear VR to test it for me. There will probably be a handful of bugs to fix, since I’m not positive I have the input handling set up correctly.

For those of you with an iOS device, it may be a little while before I go through the Apple developer process. I don’t have a Mac, so I’ll have to borrow one to get my builds running. Thanks, Apple.

For those of you who actually play it, here is some info for you.

Single Button Input For Cardboard

I designed the Cardboard version of the game to work with a single button, so that you can play it easily with a standard Cardboard viewer. There are only a few game actions, and here they are:

  • AIM: Rotate the viewer
  • FIRE: Press the trigger
  • THRUST: Hold the trigger
  • START/PAUSE: Tilt the viewer 90° clockwise

Basic Remake

For this first version of the game, I’ve focused on the basic gameplay and standard features that are found in Asteroids. I want to provide an easy-to-play VR experience that you can enjoy for minutes at a time, and easily show to your friends and family without a lot of instruction. You can even turn off the VR rendering in the pause menu and play in 2D. You’ll still be able to aim by rotating the device, fire by tapping the screen, thrust by holding the screen, and you won’t need a viewer.

  • 10 high scores
  • 4 bullets at a time
  • 3 sizes of Asteroids
  • 2 sizes of UFOs
  • 1 heart beat sound effect

Concessions for VR

There are some modifications to accommodate the VR presentation. Some things just don’t make sense conceptually in virtual reality. I’ll add them in later, if I can come up with good solutions.

  • Hyperspace was left out so as not to disorient the user
  • Shields instead of lives, to avoid spawning and disorientation
  • The difficulty is a little lower than I would like, which likely has to do with how easy it is to aim with a VR viewer. I’ll crank it up for future releases.

Looking Ahead

Future updates will add enhanced features.

  • Leaderboards
  • More types and sizes of asteroids and UFOs
  • Different weapons
  • Skyboxes
  • Powerups
  • Whatever else I come up with

Coming Soon

For now, I’m going to put this project on hold to get VR Missile Control released. I’ll still be working on getting VR Meteors for the Gear VR done. I just won’t be changing the gameplay until the next version. I will be applying the lessons that I learned on this project to VR Missile Control, so I expect things to go much quicker and smoother.

Need A Cardboard Viewer?

I think I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I’ll say it again. I highly recommend the View-Master viewer to use with Cardboard apps. It is the sturdiest viewer that I’ve tried. It has secure and easy access to the phone. It has an actual lever, instead of a touch pad or magnet. People are familiar with it and get excited to try it.

Enjoy the game, and feel free to send me any feedback. Yeah, like anybody is reading this.

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I Found A Laprechaun!

I Found A Laprechaun!

I did it! I finally found a laptop that runs VR! It’s like a leprechaun laptop, which for the purposes of this blog post I’m calling a laprechaun. I actually found a leprechaun a few years ago, and it was harder to find a laptop that ran VR. So, I’m understating it a little.Leprechaun

ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH71

It’s an ASUS ROG (Republic Of Gamers) laptop, which is marketed as a gaming laptop. Whatever they want to call it, it actually runs the latest version of the Oculus software (0.8). Of course, it may be disabled by the final version of the software. But I won’t have that until March at the earliest, and by then my desktop will be able to run the Rift. That means it’s time to get back to work on the games. As a pleasant, color-coordinated coincidence, the red lights on the laptop match the ridiculous case for my desktop. So, it looks like I planned it.

New Year’s Resolution

I suppose I can count this as a new year’s resolution, even if it’s only for this month. I have a few weeks until my next contract gig (so far), so I’m planning on getting Oculus, Gear VR, and Cardboard versions of VR Meteors, VR Missile Control, and VR Discs Of Golf done by the end of the month. That sounds like plenty to do for the next few weeks.

Gear VR Motivation

I feel like I finally have some true motivation to get the Gear VR builds working, since I don’t have a way to play them yet. My girlfriend’s dad has a Galaxy S6 phone, so of course we got him a Gear VR for Christmas. Now I need to get some arcade remakes done so that he has something to play. I suppose he’ll be able to add “Video Game Tester” to his resume as well. As long as I make them fun enough to play, that is.

SO MANY GAMES!

The main problem with having a new computer is the overwhelming urge to play all of the new games that wouldn’t run on your old machine, instead of working. I’ve actually spent the past couple days playing Dishonored, which came out 3 years ago. So, I haven’t exactly taxed the computer yet. If you are a fan of the System Shock, Deus Ex, and Bioshock games, you should definitely check it out. One of the directors and writers is Harvey Smith, who worked with Warren Spector on System Shock, and the first two Deus Ex games. You can tell, in a good way. I’ll leave it at that.

I suppose Rise Of The Tomb Raider will probably be the first true test. It comes out on 1/28, just in time for my birthday. (I know what I’ll be getting for myself.) I have my fingers crossed that it’ll support stereoscopic 3D as well as the previous Tomb Raider game. That was easily the best 3D experience I’ve had with any media. That’s including Avatar and Pacific Rim, so you know I’m serious. I’m also looking forward to Dishonored 2 now.

I suspect I’ll be posting more updates this month as well, since I’ll actually be doing stuff. We’ll see…

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VR Meteors Out Now!

VR Meteors Out Now!

VR Meteors Title ScreenHey, want to play VR Meteors? Damn right you do! It’s available to download from the Oculus Share site now. Get it here:

VR Meteors On Oculus Share

This is the first releasable version, meaning that the game is basically playable and there aren’t broken things hanging around. Original audio by: Mike Jones Audio. Replacing the arcade sound effects was the main reason I hadn’t released this sooner. There are still a few things that need to be implemented, such as:

  • Online leaderboards (and saving high scores between sessions)
  • More robust and configurable input settings
  • Audio volume settings

Also, now that I’ve got the basics in place, it’s time to start working on making things look and sound better. I’ll be starting to add better art, since my art skills have improved a bit since I first made the existing models. I also have a better understanding of materials and shaders, so I will try to get a decent outline mode working. I’m also going to implement the Oculus audio spatializer for 3D audio positioning.

Regarding VR Meteors for Google Cardboard and Gear VR, I broke the Android rendering when I cleaned up some of my code and shaders. So, I will be working on Android-specific materials as well. I also want to add different control modes to support single-button play, and sitting/standing options for camera movement. I’ve played around with these various options already, so it’s a matter of choosing good defaults and adding options to the menus. Still plenty to do.

What’s Been Taking So Damn Long?

I submitted this build to Oculus a few weeks ago, and it just got approved. So, you may be wondering what I’ve been doing in the meantime. Well, I’ve been doing some more contract work for Pipeworks and ordering parts to build a new computer. Oh yeah, and spending some holiday time with friends and family.

After submitting VR Discs Of Golf for the Leap Motion 3D Jam, I had the opportunity to try it out on a modern PC. Wow! It became readily apparent that the issues I was having with the Leap Motion controller and Oculus Rift were due to my aging computer. Turns out that a Intel Core 2 Duo and Radeon 5700 from several years ago is just not going to cut it for VR.

I spent a bit of time trying, and failing, to get the latest Oculus drivers to work with my laptop. I figured that would be a stopgap solution, but it was not to be. When Oculus removed the extended mode rendering in runtime 0.7, it basically broke laptop VR for almost everybody. The new direct mode rendering requires support from the graphics drivers. The issue comes down to most laptops using an integrated Intel graphics chip that is directly wired to the screen and HDMI port, and not being able to bypass that pipeline to render to the VR headset. On a desktop computer, the HDMI ports are directly on the graphics card, so the drivers are able to support VR without having to interact with any integrated graphics chip that is in the way.

Welcome To 2015

With the laptop solution being ruled out, it became clear that it was time for a new computer. Fortunately, a friend of mine had gotten me a discount on a motherboard and CPU just before I was laid off in the spring, so I already had the important parts. With the power supply and memory getting here this week, I should be up and running very soon. I’ll still be using an older graphics card for now, and will wait to update that until I can get the consumer version of the rift. That way I’ll be able to get the best performance for the money.

With better understanding of the laptop situation, I may even return the behemoth I ended up getting for something that doesn’t weigh as much as a gallon of water. Since I can’t run VR on it, I’ll just be using it to work while traveling, and building to Android for testing.

As for my other projects, I still plan on getting some more tasks done by the end of the year:

Check back in a few weeks to see how I did.

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Say Hello To My Little Friends

Say Hello To My Little Friends

Well, what do you know? There’s another video featuring Buzz Monkey’s unreleased South Park game with more footage and info. This post is pretty much just to embed a playlist of all of the videos that have been put together for this project. The guy who actually owns the Xbox was able to get to more of the features in the build and seemed to play around quite a bit more than the video that was posted a couple months ago.

Look What I Found

I’m also going to post a few images that I found for anybody who is interested. This first one was a mockup that was made for a demo DVD that we burned.

Say Hello To My Little Friends

Here’s a rendered image of the boys that were on some other box mockups. I still think the artists did an amazing job of modeling the characters in 3D.

Characters_Final

Roll The Clips

Here’s the playlist of all the videos about the cancelled game, with the new video at the start:

And here’s a bonus clip of a Happy Feet demo that we did as well, which was on the dev kit with the South Park game:

What Could Have Been

And for anybody reading this far, have a colored map of South Park with every location in the town through season 8:

SouthPark_Final

If any more videos or information come out, I’ll make sure to post another update and add them to the playlist above. I may even post some more art and stuff as I dig through my backups and find stuff worth sharing. Sweet!

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