What you need to know about Interviews:

22
Nov 16

Developer Interview: Thomas Brush

How did you first start out as a developer and go about creating your first game?
My first game was called Coma, and to this day it has a very special place in my heart. During development, there was never any thought about the project’s success. I simply wanted to make it, and never worried about what people would think. That feeling, I think, is what every game developer strives for.

Creating something for the sake of creating it is truly a beautiful thing, and that certainly was the case for Coma. Working on it sparingly through high school and my Senior year summer was pure, and required very little emotional effort.

Coma

Your games tend to have a very distinctive surreal and otherworldly feel. What sort of things inspire you, and how do you incorporate them into your games?
I’m super inspired by this one musician Anthony Green. His music is not really similar to Atmos’ games at all, but he has a very simple philosophy that kind of goes like this: only create when you feel. So, for the otherworldly aspects of my games, I think the inspiration comes from deep inside, as pretentious as that might sound.

The dreamy nature of Pinstripe, for example, is how I feel in my brain most of the time. I know, it’s silly, but that’s the only way I can describe it. Obviously, I take a ton of inspiration from plenty of artists. Tim Burton, M. Night Shyamalan (unashamed and proud of it), Koji Kondo, etc. But I think the value of actually building a story, game, and soundtrack inspired by an artist’s rawest emotions and passions is where it’s at. I like to think that’s the case for my work.

Pinstripe

Pinstripe, your first commercial release, is essentially a one man show developed entirely by you over the course of half a decade. What was that process like, and do you feel like your skills and methods have changed at all as a result?
The process was not great. Imagine telling yourself you’re going to build a car from scratch and not really knowing how to do it. I think that was the case with Pinstripe. I’ll admit, it feels like a house of cards in terms of the code, file structure, etc.

The positive is that I’ve learned how to build projects to scale efficiently, mainly through failure. That said, I’m happy with the results. I wouldn’t change a thing about the past 5 years. I’ve learned so much about pretty much every aspect of game development, and have grown emotionally through it all more than I thought possible.

Pinstripe is sort of a unique game in that it is often simultaneously creepy and “weird”. How did you go about creating the world, the story, and the characters in it?
Kind of like I was talking about before regarding inspiration, I just went with what I was feeling at any given time. This can be a terrible approach if you’ve got a set budget. But, for Pinstripe, prior to Kickstarter, etc., I just wrote dialogue I enjoyed, thought was personally funny or intriguing, and built the world and story on raw emotion without any real inhibition.

I guess Pinstripe is just a reflection of my personality. The intention behind the project has solidified here towards the end of the project, but to start, it was pretty much a stream of consciousness thing. Kind of like a dream. My dreams are a lot like Pinstripe.

Pinstripe

The gameplay in Pinstripe is sort of a mix of everything… puzzles, action, platforming, and so on. How did you decide to use them to build the game’s distinct areas so those elements felt cohesive?
I’m not sure they are. I guess we’ll see what players think on release. But, the decision process was pretty random. Honestly, if I could do it again, I’d be a bit more intentional about actual gameplay. Not my strong suit, but, hopefully, these elements work together in Pinstripe.

Pinstripe

In the process of making Pinstripe, you worked with both Kickstarter and a publisher for the first time. What was that like, and do you think it’s something you want to do again?
I’d do it exactly the same again. The benefit of Kickstarter is funding, obviously, and also a sense of direction. It’s kind of like an election campaign: you make a promise, and you keep your promise or get destroyed by your constituency. This is a beautiful thing. It keeps you on track. A publisher, on the other hand, is a shoulder to lean on. When the going’s get tough, or you don’t have enough time on your hands to handle marketing, networking, tradeshows, etc., a publisher is great to have.

My publisher Armor Games has been great. They are there for me pretty much whenever I need them. Good people. Obviously, if a developer signs with a crooked publisher, it’s pretty much the worst thing for creativity and your project. But I’m lucky I landed Armor Games when I did. Sometimes it feels like they are just my buddies helping out with the business side of things, which is an amazing feeling.

Once Pinstripe is released, do you have any plans for your next game in mind, or are you thinking of taking a break?
Yes, currently two projects are in pre-production. Announcement coming early 2017.

Pinstripe

For more from Thomas Brush, visit his official site, Atmos Games, and follow Thomas on Twitter. Play Thomas’s original Flash games Coma and Skinny free in your browser here at ArmorGames.com. Check out Pinstripe on Steam or pre-order Pinstripe on AtmosGames.com for its release in early 2017.

13
Mar 12

Sean Astin – A Gamer with a Passion for Others

At ArmorGames we enjoy seeing Gamers live life to the fullest. We had the privilege to ask Sean Astin; who portrayed the Smart, Fast Hobbit Samewise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings a bunch of questions. He’s been on a mission lately to inspire runners and athletes to run for a cause greater than themselves.

Since Lord of the Rings was a HUGE inspiration for Armor Games, its an honor to get to know one of the staring characters from the Epic Trilogy. Sean is also known from many other iconic roles including Rudy and Mikey from Goonies. Besides being a Husband and Father, Sean has started a movement called #run3rd. Read the questions below to find out more about it and how you can join in.

1.Before ArmorGames was Armor, it was GamesofGondor and we featured Medieval and Lord of the Rings themed games. Do you ever play video games? If so, what are some of your favorite games?
I am a GAMER!!!! My favorite game of all time is the 2nd edition of Age of Empires…We set up computers and a LAN in the dining room and the sun comes up and goes down around us!!!

2.The Armor Games team are big fans of physical fitness and we do several runs and mud runs together a year. How did you get into running?
My best friends step dad invited me to run in a 10k when I was 14…HOOKED…ran cross country in HS…I just took to running, with little effort, it just felt like I belonged on the road…been doing it ever since.

3.Have you done any Mud Runs? (ie. Camp Penalton, Spartan Runs, Tough Mudder)
I did an echo challenge in Bonelli (spelling) park…so much fun, the greased mud wall and make shift kayaks…the swim freaked me out with all the kicking, but bringing it home with the run…sweet…I’d do more… oh, I’ve done mini tri’s just not mudders.

4.Tell me a little bit about #run3rd?
#run3rd is all about making a dedication. In fact, it is an invitation to anybody on twitter to take a moment, literally 20 seconds say something for someone they love, a cause they believe in or any positive comment or even light hearted humorous remark. It’s just a hash tag like the millions of others, but I am infusing it with sustained passion and intention. The longer it goes on, the more I reflect about why it is able to grow. I wonder how many of the people that make dedications have ever done that before. I like to think that in many cases my invitation unlocks a little something…causing the person to consider for a moment…it is that moment of reflecting on what is important enough to make a public statement about that is the beauty of #run3rd..sure the internet might feel like a safe place to throw out a thought, but the truth is that for most of the people who post a #run3rd dedication, they feel incredibly deeply about their loved ones or cause. The stream of these things moves people, in many cases to tears…it’s kind of like cyptonite to cynics…

5.How can the ArmorGames community get involved and support #run3rd?
Well, there are three things that occur to me…
1st: Please make a dedication at #run3rd
2nd: Help me get to my goal of 26,200 Followers to match the 26.2 mile LA Marathon by March 18th, 2012 (Update: Sean has passed 26.2k Followers. Congrats!!)
3rd: If you live in LA make up a #run3rd sign and hold it up along the marathon route

6.Do your fans ever try and stop you during a race to say ‘Hi’ or get a photo?
The cool thing about formal races, people seem to get the nature of the experience…it would be totally inappropriate to do that…but, before the race I’ll take loads of pictures with fellow runners and after the race lots with families etc…of course once in awhile, during the race, a runner will see me and want to take a pic as we go…funny stuff…

7.We hear you are running the LA Marathon. Are you nervous?
I get butterflies, but I’ve trained properly, I’ve run it twice before once with this so called Stadium to the Sea route… So, I’m mostly really really excited…

8.Do you have any races planned after the LA Marathon?
The Hollywood Half Marathon in april just a short two weeks after the LA Marathon. And then in November I’ve declared that I will run in the 50th Anniversary of the JFK 50 Miler in Maryland… Crazy goal, but doable I think…

9.Running is physically taxing on your body. Have you had to work through any injuries while training for the Marathon?
There are always injuries when you train, particularly when the miles edge up over 30 per week… the ball of my left foot got bruised from the thin nike air running shoe that i love so much…I ran for a couple weeks on a much thicker soles…Other little things…never good to tumble while running but on a night run I did once…scrapes then…embarrassing but true…don’t tell anyone 🙂

10.Me (Daniel McNeely) and John Cooney (Head of Game development for Armor Games) just finished our first Marathon last month in Orlando. Crossing the finish line was one of the biggest thrills and accomplishments I’ve ever experienced. How do you plan to celebrate after you finish your first Marathon?
Congratulations!!!! It is an elite club. It is an accomplishment that most of the people who have walked the earth have never done. I have dinner with my family and ask them to tell me over and over how amazing it is that I did it..

Thanks Sean for answering these questions and Best of Luck on March 18th! The whole Armor Games community will be cheering you on!

Make sure to Follow Sean on Twitter and Facebook and next time you post something on Twitter use the #run3rd hash tag to inspire those around you.

 

9
Mar 12

Interview by AppJudgement at FGS

25
May 11

New Hire: Welcome Phil!

phil-professional-photo

1. Welcome to the team Phil! Can you tell us a little about what you do at Armor Games?

I am a Senior Web Developer, working with the web development team adding functionality to the website and fix issues as they pop up so people can enjoy the games 🙂

2. When did you realize web programming was the right path for you?

I actually stumbled into it.  After doing IT administration for a decade, I realized I wanted to write software and fix bugs, not just report bugs while installing software and hardware — so I went back to school and earned a second BS and then a MS in Information and Computer Sciences from UC Irvine.  Unless I wanted to move out of the area after I finished my degrees, the main jobs hiring in the area for people with my skill set were web development jobs.  I’ve been doing web development almost exclusively ever since.

3. What are you currently working on at Armor Games?

My main project has been the Armatars project working closely with James Lee (see his Q&A from April 29); he builds the front-end and I link up the back-end.

4. Are there any websites in the past you have worked on that you would like to share?

I’ve worked on two publicly-available commercial business printing sites:

OvernightPrints and

BudgetPrint

On a rare occasion I blog at http://tipsfromphil.blogspot.com/ and http://onecask.blogspot.com/ .

5. What blogs do you like reading most online?

Anthony Bourdain and

Joel on Software

I’m also an avid reader of the DrudgeReport and Twitter’s BreakingNews channel

6. When you are not busy at the office, what are some things you do for fun?

– Reading (Ben Mezrich, Dan Brown, winemaking books, other current fiction, and I’ve been yearning for a Harry Potter type of series for a few years now),

– Watching TV (Big Bang Theory, In Wine Country, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Outsourced, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family),

– Listening to the radio (Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk, Bill Handel, The Splendid Table, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me)

-Listening to music (Pandora, Last.FM, YouTube),

– Sailing,

– Chess,

– Smoking fish and meats,

– Cooking, and

– Wine-tasting

Then there are the podcasts:

I’m a daily listener to C|Net’s Buzz Out Loud podcast, and when time permits, I like to listen to:

– Renaissance Festival Podcast,

– This Week In Startups, and

– 3 Wine Guys.

7. What is your favorite flash game to play?

I’m addicted to Sugar, Sugar

8. Your desk is set up in a way that you stand up while working. Is there a secret to this way of work?

Yes.

Oh you wanted me to explain the secret? 🙂

There is a type of software development framework called Scrum where a daily stand-up meeting is held around 2 PM for about 15 minutes.  Why 2 PM daily?  Because that’s usually the time of day the blood sugar runs low after eating lunch and standing up keeps the energy flowing.  It works for me for the entire day; I only sit when reading or in meetings.

On top of that, ever since I started working standing during grad school, the aches and pains that I used to get in my head, shoulders, neck, and back are gone.  Standing up forces me to maintain better posture.

29
Apr 11

Welcome Aboard James!

james

1. A/S/L?….   Animated Movie (whats your favorite), Soup (Do you prefer Miso or Chicken Tortilla), Langered

My Age is 33 years, i am a Guy and I currently live in Orange County (not to be confused with the orange county in new york).

Although I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of cuisines. I did grow up in a kitchen, so I do enjoy food from all over. My current favorite foods are tough as I do not tend to just like one. Are there things i won’t eat? Sure I would not eat them now but maybe sometime in the future when I gain more courage I might try it again. I might dabble in eating crickets. as it is a food that my parents did eat when they were younger. My favorite animated movie has to be 千と千尋の神隠し / Spirited Away by Miyazaki.

2. Can you tell us a little about what you do at Armor Games?

I am the front/middle end web developer, basically taking our design compositions and making them work smoothly for our users.

3. What are you currently working on for Armor Games?

I am working on the newest version of Armor Games v3 beta. finishing up development on armatars with our other developer Phil.

4. What websites have you worked on in the past?

Thats a huge laundry list of sites, but recently I have worked on steelhousemedia’s corp site and their User Interface for their internal team. Worked on the User Interface team at the rubicon project. i have a hobby site for blog sharing called medio123.com

5. What are a few sites you admire and why? (from web dev perspective)

I really can’t say that admire any one particular site, but i do tend to visit reddit.com, popularscience, and discovery.com

6. What are your favorite blogs to read online?

lostateminor.com, thedieline.com, pinktentacle.com, and gigazine

7. Do you have any personal web projects going on?

When I do have time I try to put some effort into my blog sharing website. medio123.com

8. I see a Tea Set and Fancy Pipe at your Desk. What type of tea do you drink? Have you ever dressed up as Sherlock Holmes before?

I enjoy a nice cuppa tea. and currently my favorite tea is pu-erh cha. a fermented oolong cha. the pipe is just something to have.

9. I hear you just moved to Huntington Beach. Do you consider yourself a Beach Bum?

no not yet, but the ocean breeze is quite nice.

10. What are some of your hobbies you enjoy in your free time?

My current favorite downtime thing to do is play portal 2 . Go out into the wilderness and explore. PAINTBALL!!!!!!!!  I do enjoy traveling around and seeing new things.

25
Mar 11

Chibi Knight: Postmortem – By BoMToons

At the beginning of 2010 I released a Flash game called “Chibi Knight” which can be played here.

To-date it is, by far, my most popular game with millions of plays on many websites. I’m not quite sure what made Chibi Knight so appealing, but I’ll try not to bore you too much while I explain the process that brought the game to light.

I. My Favorite NES Game


chibi_zelda2

First off, let me mention that I HATE RPGs with a melting fury. I find it absolutely boring and frustrating to have to sit there and wait for an enemy’s “turn” when I could clearly be running away, dodging, casting a spell, and attacking all at once. If you want turn-based game-play, play a board game where turns make sense. The whole point of vidya gamez is that they have real time action and adventure – pulse pounding predicaments precipitated by pixel proximity.

chibi_haterpgs

But, after having said that, there is one RPG I loved as a kid called Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. First off, what the flip!? The hero’s name hasn’t been “Zelda” this whole time?! Mind = Blown.

Second, hey, this isn’t an RPG because I have to button mash while jumping and dodging to kill enemies…this is actually fun! Oh, and my character getting stronger the longer I play, that’s pretty entertaining… so that’s why people play those turn-based RPGs!

I actually made a Zelda II minigame back in 2007 in my game “Boss Bash” which can be played here.

chibi_bossbash

Making it reminded me just how cool Zelda II was and how cool it looked and felt with updated graphics. It also reminded me that it had an awkward spell system and some other little annoyances like a tall sprite that has to duck sometimes.

II. Castle Crashing the Beard


In 2008 I heard that Tom Fulp wasn’t shaving his face until he finished Castle Crashers, so while chatting with a Flash artist friend (Luis) I mentioned we should make a game about that. So two weeks later we released “Castle Crashing the Beard” which can be played here.

On some level, I was channeling the Zelda II Boss game I’d made in 2007, but Luis brought some really unique things to the gameplay just by the way he drew the game sprites. He had recently worked on “Newgrounds Rumble“, a brawler with varied “chaining” attacks for each character. Luis’ integration of “brawler” style attacks into a 2D platformer felt REALLY nice, and the quick “level up” dynamic with changing costumes was really addicting.

chibi_cctb

People loved it, and The Behemoth got so much traffic from the game they included Luis and my names in the “Castle Crashers” credits! For a while afterward, all people could say was “make this a bigger game!” So, almost immediately afterward, I started tooling around with a more full-scale treatment of the game-play in CCTB.

III. Expanding on the successful concept


At first I was just going to make a straight up “use your fists” 2D brawler with an overhead map view and some RPG elements mixed in and a main character whose physical appearance changed as you leveled up (shout out to “Altered Beast”).

I ran the idea past some artists with an animation list that looked like this:

MAIN DUDE
Sprite Upgrades: Scrawny, Robust, Thick, Buff, Huge, Giant, Maxed out
States for each upgrade:
1. Rest
2. Weak Punch
3. Strong Punch
4. Duck
5. Weak Duck Punch
6. Strong Duck Punch
7. Special Big attack
8. Walk
9. Jump
10. Jump Attack
11. Knocked Down
12. Die
13. Hit

So that was like 13 animations * 7 states which is like 91 animations just for the main character. Yeah, no one was jumping at that opportunity. But I was gonna go easy on the artist and make the overhead “world map” tile-based so the map could be huge.

After the idea sat around for over a year, I decided that I just wanted to get this thing out there for people to test and see if it was really going to be worth expanding on.

IV. Simplifying the expansion


So, I didn’t want to be at the whim of an artist for my art assets and I have some art skills so why not do EVERYTHING myself?!

This decision’s main benefit was that my work-flow was fast, I’d quickly switch from drawing to coding in the same session and have something that looked good AND worked to get excited about. My vision was (almost) without exception fully realized in the end product.

The main drawback was that I didn’t have the time to really expand on game-play and features to the extent I could have if I was focusing solely on coding.

My day job as art director for a kids’ website had me doing cute little gumdrop-bodied characters and I thought “Hey, if I do similar simple small sprites, I just might be able to pull this whole thing off on my own!”

In the end, this simplified art style became the theme of the game: “Chibi.”

Not only was the hero simple, but now I could make the enemies simple, and the rest of the art simple too… JACKPOT!

I trashed the idea of different looking leveled up sprites as being “too labor intensive” and substituted that with color-coded armor and unique swords. This cut way down on the number of animations.

I decided not to do tiles on the main map because, while it would be faster and easier to build a map with a tile engine, actually making the tile engine was going to take longer than just drawing the small map I had planned. The hand-drawn look for the overhead map ended up adding a lot of charm that tiles wouldn’t have done quite as well, but it did have some drawbacks that you’ll see later.

chibi_worldmap

I also decided to cut the number of chaining brawler attacks to a simple series of 3 sword swipes so it would still give the player a sense of brawling, but not be super complicated to “pick up and play.”

chibi_attacks

I knew that Zelda’s spell system was too cumbersome, so I simplified it with simple icons that appear around the hero instead of bringing up a giant menu. I also made all the spells take the same amount of magic (easier for players to wrap their minds around than “manna” points). So when you level up your magic you work toward being able to cast multiple spells on one magic charge.

chibi_spells

I also cut out having mounts in the game, which I plan to put back in for a sequel 🙂

I started out with a very simple outline that involved 2 boss battles leading up to a final boss battle with one side-quest along the way.

If there’s one thing I had learned from previous projects, it’s that keeping your scope small means your project gets DONE. It also helps ensure that it’s not full of ridiculous bugs from your experimental creativity.

The urge to make everything BIGGER AND BADDER AND MORE IMMERSIVE, is a temptation I have to constantly fight when making games.

V. Why a Knight?


To be honest, I saw a sketch of a knight I liked and thought it would fit the game perfectly. I had also been talking with Armor Games about sponsorship and they are suckers for medieval-themed games.

VI. Big Bosses


I just don’t think any game is complete unless there are giant intimidating bosses. Bosses that outweigh the hero by at least 20 times and seem impossible to beat when you first see them. Abandon all hope little hero! (think Little Mac in “Mike Tyson’s Punchout”)

That initial rush of “Big Boss” intimidation pays off in spades when you finally come out on top and, not to be too flowery, it reinforces your faith in your own ability to overcome “no-win” odds in a world that assaults you with them repeatedly.

chibi_bosses

Bosses should always be extremely over-powered, but so stupid that they follow a recognizable pattern. Humans have some innate ability to learn patterns, so this method naturally leads players to continuously improve and keep coming back at a boss for more even though they keep losing. In the end, you’re able to really impress your un-initiated friends with your prowess.

Chibi follows this pretty well, though I’d say the Canyon Boss’ pattern is a little too complex for a “first boss” and the Island Dragon is probably too simple for a “second boss.”

VII. Expanding Again


So I had a very-near complete build of the game done and sent it over to Armor games. They loved it but wanted MOAR, so they offered me a significant sponsorship boost if I would double the game-play time… Oh NOES!

Greed wins!

This challenge led to the creation of the dungeon Level and the 3 Knights. Those 3 knights turned out to be my favorite part of the game and also the part I’m most proud of. I think they not only extended the game-play, but really helped deepen the “story” and “lore” of the game and are just fun to play.

chibi_3knights

This challenge also led to the addition of the blacksmith, the tree chopping side-quest, and the addition of the “fire” spell and the “life” spell. These also make the game feel much more adventurous, complete, and fun so I’m glad they made it in. I can’t imagine the game now without those elements.

VIII. Polish


My game was done but without music. All I could think about was that I had made every single aspect of this thing, but have no talent for music. Luckily, I had worked with Brian Holmes on a couple other projects and he was instantly excited to do a fully custom score for this little Flash game. The music took the game to a new level and made it seem way more epic than it probably deserved.

Since I was doing art and code all along, most of my vision for effects and transitions had been built as I went along, so this phase was fairly straight-forward, except for one thing…

IX. The Voice


If I had to attribute the game’s success to one element, I’d have to hand it to my 5 year old daughter who did the voice of Chibi knight.

Only a few days before releasing the game, I was remembering that one of the big contributions to the success of “Castle Crashing the Beard” was the voice-over work done by Tom Fulp himself. A boss that talks to you and taunts you while you beat on him sent the “fun” level of the game through the roof.

I also remembered games like “Smash TV” where the announcer kept you entertained while you were playing and the “X-men arcade” where the voice-work was one of the most memorable parts for me (”Welcome to die!”).

I had just gotten a new microphone and tried recording some “Hi-ya!” and “Oof!” sounds for the knight, and it was sounding extremely lame. My daughter started imitating me in the other room, so I thought I’d give her a tryout on the mic to shut her up.

chibi_voice

Once I cut the sounds down and put them in, I knew I had struck on something special. The cute little voice expanded on the “chibi” theme and made the game not only fun to play, but entertaining on new levels. It now had elements of “cute” and “humor” that I knew would keep people playing for long enough to get them over the hump of “casual gaming” and bring them to the addicting aspects of leveling up, finding spells, side quests, and the story of the cute little kingdom in peril.

X. Bugs & Release


Because I had been chinking away at the game for over 2 years, I had squashed most of the show-stopping bugs but, as always, having millions of people play your game inevitably raises other problems.

Some people had problems with how hard it was to grind and “max out” your levels because I removed enemies after you’d defeated them. Not being a big RPG guy, I never realized that this is a common “replay” thing players do when they beat the story arc of an RPG… who knew?!

There was one bug with not being able to walk up to the final boss after defeating the 3 knights, and that took me a long time to squash.

There were also some problems with performance on older versions of Flash player and low-end computers when entering the dungeon because I was doing so much bitmap caching on such a huge map…that one I never fixed because it would have required a complete redesign of my map engine which, if you’ll remember, was designed for a much smaller hand-drawn map initially.

There were a few exploit bugs like purposely jumping off the bridge after beating the Canyon Beast to get back to the main map faster. Holding up down and right on certain keyboards also made you move super fast for some reason.

Also, apparently if you leave the game paused for 24 hours, when you un-pause you’re outside the map… never fixed that one because it makes absolutely no sense to me.

Oh, which reminds me, I never implemented a “lives” system just because it seemed like it encouraged more experimentation to not have to worry about dying. It also took some pressure and frustration out of the game and kept people from “rage quitting” which seems to be the standard for “casual” games nowadays (whatever those are).

XI. Advice


I’d say try to build from concepts you love. Cut out what annoys you about your favorite games, mix and match elements from other stuff you like, experiment a little, keep your scope in check, send your game around to lots of people to play before you release it… and take their feedback to heart, add in the stuff you always wished was in your favorites originally, update and expand on the classics, and shamelessly use your family members’ talents to make your games better…after all they’ll only be 5 for one year!

chibi_advice

15
Feb 11

Flash MindMeld 2011 is Live!

screen-shot-2011-02-15-at-120200-pm

What makes or breaks a flash game? That is the exact question being answered by 60 of the most talented people behind flash games. This is your chance to get information, help, and suggestions fromt he leading developer’s in flash! Click here to sign up! Enter your name and e-mail and you can instantly hear advice from the pro’s! You will also be e-mailed a copy of the full mp3. Armor Games is also proud to announce that our game developers are apart of the Flash MindMeld all-star panel. These developers include:

John Cooney (jmtb02)

Chris Condon (ConArtists)

Daniel McNeely (CEO)

Krin Juangbhanich (Krin)

Louis-Simon Menard (Louissi)

Antony Lavelle (Tony)

Make sure you take time to check out Flash MindMeld! There will be tons of helpful information about flash games for free!

5
Jan 11

Hands of War 2

The success and feedback from Hands of War left little doubt that a sequel would be warranted.  For the past five months, I’ve been designing and developing Hands of War 2.  The game is approximately 70% finished, and I plan on posting regular updates to the Armor Blog.  For now, check out a brief demo video I put together.  Enjoy!

Hands of War 2 Demo Video

Hands of War 2

Hands of War 2

5
Apr 10

Larry-Web Programming Extraordinaire

Larry Root

As part of our ongoin effort to bring you closer to the people behind Armor Games we sent off 10 questions to Larry Root, the Head of Web Development (Armor Games user lroot). He was kind enough to provide the following responses. We hope this helps shed some light on his role here as well as provide a small glimpse into the future of Armor Games.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do at Armor Games?

My name is Larry Root and I am the Head of Web Development at Armor Games. This role basically means that I am responsible for the technical development, maintenance and architecture of our online services. This includes the website, in game services like high scores & game shares as well as new online features still in development.

What was the first programming language you learned and how were you exposed to it?

The first language that I was exposed to was probably BASIC. My dad was, among many things, a programmer and we always had a computer in the garage (not sure why it wasn’t allowed in the house). He would purchase programming magazines that would contain the source code for simple games written in BASIC. I would copy the source code by hand into our old Intel 8088 DOS PC and eventually with a little luck and a lot of debugging I could play these games.

I would not say I ever “learned” BASIC I was not capable of writing anything from scratch. The first language that I officially learned was probably ADA when I attended Fullerton College. I haven’t used it since but that was my first real introduction to structured programming concepts and object oriented principles.

When did you realize web programming was something you wanted/would do?

That was something I decided on while attending college in San Francisco at the Academy of Art University (I transferred from Fullerton College). Growing up I had always been drawn to both computers (system moding, gaming, BBS’s) as well as the arts (drawing & illustration). Discovering photoshop brought both of these passions together and I new that a creative, digital medium was something I wanted to do. So off to San Francisco I went.

My major at the time was called “Interactive Digital Media”. It was a broad study of creative digital media including desktop publishing (illustrator, photoshop), Video editing (SGI Oxygen systems), Director (and advanced Lingo programing) as well as a relatively new class at the time called “Web Design”. The web class fascinated me because of its newness and its immediacy in publishing and broad reach. Before this I figured I would specialize in CD Rom development of some sort. But the web class changed all that. I started freelancing outside of school doing web projects and eventually landed a job at a small company as a web designer/developer and never looked back.

When did you start working at Armor Games, and how do you like it so far?

My first day at Armor Games was January 26, 2009. Up until this time I had worked for interactive consulting firms for over 10 years doing web development for all sorts of companies and brands (cat.com, nissanusa.com, mazdausa.com, snow.com to name a few). Leaving the consulting field and joining a small team of passionate and inspired gamers was thrilling to me. Being able to work to work directly with the team to shape and implement the future of Armor Games online was both a daunting and exciting challenge. The first few months were busy. Being the only person in house that did web work meant that I did everything. That includes fixing spelling errors to reworking the entire caching strategy for the current site to stabilize slow pages. All in all its been great and I am still as excited as I was when I first started.

You have created many additions and improvements to the site and system so far, what are some of your favorites?

Looking back over the past 1+ years since I started quite a bit of work has gone into Armor Games. The first job was to stabilize the current armorgames.com website. There were many issues with slow pages, especially within the forums section. A rewrite of a some code and a new caching architecture (using Memcached) helped us accomplish that. Armor Games has some ambitious plans so I began architecting and developing a new web platform that would better meet our requirements for the future. The first tangible result of this platform for our users was our in game services which we dub the “AGI” (Armor Games Interface) which of course is a play on the acronym API (Application Programming Interface). This brought High Scores and Game Sharing features into some of our most popular games. We have accomplished quite a lot since I first started and these are just a couple of my most memorable so far.

Do you have any new features planned for the website?

Absolutely. I cant give everything away but I can certainly share a few things. Look for more improvements and features to our AGI (ex: Authentication & persistent game data & stats storage cross browser). Also don’t expect the AGI to be limited to just Flash games either. We are looking to rollout a completely revamped multiplayer platform with new multiplayer games to follow (and yes this includes updating the current Colony multiplayer system). Finally some of you may have seen glimpses of our new brand here and there or have discovered this peculiar site http://beta.armorgames.com. Stay tuned…

When you are not busy working at the office, what are somethings you like to do for fun?

Outside of work I do enjoy spending time with my family (my wife Laura, 3 year old son Owen and 5 year old daughter Amanda). I am also a pretty big computer geek as you might imagine so I do spend quite a lot of time on the computer. I also play ice hockey, something I got into as a kid. I usually play a couple games a week. However recently I suffered my first major injury so I have been off the ice for a bit.

Could you tell us a little more about the Hockey you play? What is your favorite NHL team?

I play most of my hockey at Anaheim Ice, the same place where the Anaheim Ducks practice. I play on the Chiefs. The name was taken from the team in the movie Slap Shot. I would also have to say that I’m a pretty big Ducks fan.

What’s your favorite Flash game? What are your kid’s favorite Flash games?

One of my favorite flash games of late is Crush the Castle Players pack. I spent many hours building all sorts of structures in that game. It was very addictive. Owen is still a bit young for flash games, however Amanda loves just about every game on the Nick Jr.’s NOGGIN site.

Whats are some of your favorite websites? (Besides ArmorGames.com 🙂

Most of my social needs are satisfied with:
http://facebook.com
http://twitter.com (@lroot)

For all my geek news and gadget cravings:
http://lifehacker.com
http://slashdot.org
http://boingboing.com
http://gizmodo.com
http://engadget.com
http://digg.com

Some of my web development favorites include:
http://www.alistapart.com
http://www.phparch.com
http://highscalability.com

10
Mar 10

Ido Tal – The Flash Guru

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Hi, could you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Sure thing! I’m Ido. It’s a tricky one to pronounce, it’s originated from Hebrew. I love video games, and I’m an independent game developer. A highschool student as of today, but this is my last year. Hurray!

When and how did you become involved in Flash game development?
I was always curious about what’s happening behind the scenes in video games. I found video games and interactive worlds inspiring since I was a little kid. Eventually I got my hands on Flash 5 back in the day, and started out as an animator. I was never good at animating but it was fun, and in the long run also useful as I began to program games in Flash, using Actionscript 2 and then 3.

What do you like most about developing games in Flash?
I love how smooth it is to deliver the game to the player, since it’s played online. And everybody’s online. It’s incredible how a single indie production can reach millions. It gives the developer exposure and space to express creativity, while it gives the player a free game to play (well, in most forms). Win-win!

What were some of the first games you developed?

I developed little games in my early Flash years but none of them were worthy of a release. The first game I developed and actually released was the fan made game Portal: The Flash Version with my partner Hen who nailed the graphics. It was my ‘breach’ to the online game scene. I guess that’s how I am here!

Could you tell us about your future game trilogy, Echoes?
Echoes is an action-strategy game. It’s set in an extensive universe on a torn Earth almost three-hundred years in the future. It joins the famous Real Time Strategy genre with many elements from the Third Person Shooter genre, in a side-scrolling environment.
It is explored in three Acts, released as three games. Every Act is built from 5 stages and an unlockable challenge game-mode. Every stage has its own learning curve and objectives, and is loaded with dialogues carrying on the storyline of the series.

What kind of game-play can we expect to see in Echoes?
The gameplay in Echoes is combined. As mentioned, it joins RTS and Shooter. Ingame, this means you can switch live between Strategy-mode and Combat-mode.

– In Strategy-mode, you’re able to construct a base, recruit an army and control them around. To encourage that, some of the resources in the game are collected throughout the map by capturing Control Points.
– In Combat-mode, you’re able to join your army in the mission to repel the enemies. The cursor turns into a crosshair and the camera focuses on the hero – D.e.m. (name is storyline-related). Controls in Combat mode turn into action game controls. Dem is packed with abilities and weapons which he can carry out during the battle, to support allies and resist enemies. So basically you join your own army, and fight with them side by side in Echoes.

Every stage is filled with dialogues and cutscenes, each time revealing more about the universe of Echoes. All dialogues in the game are voiced, not a single line out! 🙂
echoes_cap_023
How long has Act 1 been in progress and when will it be released?
We’ve been developing Act 1 and Echoes in general for some time now – the original design is over two years old! Echoes is a massive project, and it was not easy to develop independently, especially not for a perfectionist :). However I’m happy to say it’s a few weeks to release now.

When you are not developing games, what are some things you enjoy doing?
Hmm, random things I enjoy… I enjoy listening to music (I am pretty open about the genres), playing the drums (on and off for around two years), hanging out with mates… and I can drown myself into a 2 hour movie at 4AM after work spontaneously. And when I am not being teeny, I talk: I try to take opportunities to talk in front of a crowd. This is an opportunity that was given to me through the game industry after the first game I released, and I realized it’s a skill I must develop, especially because it’s not natural for me, deep down I’m kinda shy!

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Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions Ido. We look forward to playing Echoes.