Game Development Lessons You Can Learn From Game Dev Story

I wrote a post before about the unexpected things that I learned from video games. However, being in the game industry myself and a fan of Game Dev Story, I felt the urge to write a separate blog post for the game development lessons that you can get from the said game. For those of you who are not familiar with the game, it’s a simulation for building your own video game company. You start out with four employees, then by releasing games on different platforms you earn more profit and create more quality games and expand your company to hire more employees and even create your own game console. Throughout the game, you’ll have specific events like video game awards and conventions, which adds popularity for your company. It may not be 100% accurate or completely detailed, but it has covered a lot of essential parts of the processes involved in game development. Not interested yet? Well hopefully, after reading this post, you will be. By the way, just to clarify, I’m not an employee of Kairosoft, so I’m not writing this for promotional purposes. 🙂

Source, Risks, and Rewards of Research

When the boost attempt fails… you get more bugs in your game  (Photo From: http://phwampfler.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/gamedevst11.jpg)

You can acquire research data from accepting contractual works (Photo from: http://oyster.ignimgs.com/mediawiki/apis.ign.com/game-dev-story/3/3a/Gamedev_01.jpg)

There’s a stat in the game called research data. This can be used to apply boosts to the different attributes of the game (namely fun, creativity, design, sound, and bugs) and increase the job level of your employees. Let’s put our focus for the boost attempt mechanic for a moment. This happens when one of your employees suddenly approach you and asks your permission to TRY to increase the points of a particular attribute of your game. You have the option to decline, which will make your employee sad or approve the proposal in which you will bet on him/her that he/she will be successful with her attempt. Prior to the start of the attempt, you will see the probability of success, which can be increased up to 80% using your research data. The starting percentage depends on the skill of your employee corresponding to the desired attribute to improve (e.g. Fun corresponds to Coding). There will be two possible outcomes for the attempt as you probably expected. If successful, it will add points to the chosen attribute which will increase the quality of the game. If the attempt fails, there will be more bugs, which means more time for debugging. In real game development, you’re dealing with budget and deadlines that may give a company some second thoughts on giving more time for research, but if you really want to release a good game, you just have to risk and do it. After all, even if it fails, it will still be a learning experience. This can also be applied for Game Dev Story. Research data can be acquired as you develop your game, debug your game, or get some contractual work. This means that all the bugs that you had in the development process will be converted to research data by the time you reach the debugging stage. Don’t be afraid to commit such mistakes or encounter difficult problems. After you solve it, you hold valuable information that can solve future problems that can be encountered by other projects of the company.

Importance of Human Capital

Training methods provide different combination of skill rewards (Photo From: http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120819045314/kairosoft/images/e/ec/Training-GameDevStory.png)

In the game, the quality and pace of each game project, contractual work, or console development is determined by your team’s collective skill points. Higher skill points will result to faster development and higher attribute points for your completed game. Skill points are acquired by increasing the job level or by providing a training program for an employee. Each type of training aims for one or more skill type of the chosen employee. The training also consumes the power of the trainee. If he/she is already tired, then the training cannot proceed and that trainee will be done for the day. Each training costs money, and the more rewards you get from the training, most likely, the more expensive the price. This goes the same for real-life game development. You’ll spend some significant amount of funds if you want to give formal trainings to your developers, but with the right training programs, the investment will be worth it since they can come up with more brilliant ideas and perform a lot better with their tasks using the knowledge that they have acquired.

Short Contractual Jobs for Main IP Funding

You can do some contractual work for additional money and research data. (Photo From: http://oyster.ignimgs.com/mediawiki/apis.ign.com/game-dev-story/0/01/Gamedev_19.jpg)

During the early stages of the game, you’ll be needing a lot of funds for your game project, specially if you’re dealing with a genre that is harder to develop (e.g. Online RPG, Action, etc.). The game offers an option to accept a contractual job to earn more money and research data. Jobs range from creating a Background Music up to implementing a design tool. The job’s duration is significantly shorter compared to a complete game project and there’s a given deadline. Failing to meet that deadline will leave you with no pay and  affects your company’s reputation. In real-world game development, producing IP’s offer a lot of risks. Since you don’t have a client, most of the time, the funding will be pulled from the company’s own resources (unless you get a publisher but that may require you to involve them with the design process removing part of your control with the game’s design path). Getting outsourced jobs can serve as the company’s seed money prior to a new IP. This way, they don’t have to use up the internal funds plus the developers may possibly learn something useful with the given tasks. It’s a win-win situation. Just make sure that you’re dealing with the proper clients. Choosing the wrong ones will give you more problems than benefits. I’ve experienced that numerous times. XD

Murphy’s Law

There are occasional blackouts that may occur, decreasing your game’s attribute points (Photo From: http://oyster.ignimgs.com/mediawiki/apis.ign.com/game-dev-story/7/76/Gamedev_22.jpg)

Murphy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong… it will. In Game Dev story, there are random events that may affect your development process such as loss of power supply that will decrease the attribute points of your game or another company releasing a game that is similar to what you’re currently working on, affecting your game’s popularity. More risks are present in real game development, and it’s inevitable. You just have to be prepared if something happens and create a contingency plan beforehand, buffered schedule for instance. If the extra time was not used for the unexpected bad events, then you can use it for more research and other attempts for the game’s improvement or simply give your team members some more rest.

Being “In The Zone”

If the team gets a wave of inspiration, they will add more attribute points than their normal pace. (Photo From: http://www.edge-online.com/wp-content/uploads/edgeonline/oldfiles/TOP_62.jpg)

My former colleagues use this phrase a lot. It means, that you’re in a state where you have a rapid flow of ideas, and you have a clear vision of what you need to do with your task. Such state will bring you to really high focus to the point that you have zero awareness with your surroundings. In Game Dev Story, this can be represented by a team member who is on fire while in the middle of the development process. You’ll see an indicator on the additional attribute points that he/she had contributed during that state. A word of advice, in real-life software development, as much as possible, try not to interrupt a developer who is “in the zone” since it’s something that just comes by chance and such interruption may cut that state short.

There, by playing Game Dev Story, you’ll have a better grasp of what it’s like to work in the games industry. To be honest, this game made a good job on portraying the process in a fun way. Game development is hard, but if you’re really passionate about it, then you will survive… and you will succeed. For those of you who are afraid to start your dream of being a game developer, try to treat it like a game but be serious in learning the ways and executing the tasks. Good luck and have fun! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my phone and resume my Game Dev Story session. (~^_^)~

 

My “Laptop as a CPU” Setup

I wasn’t planning to buy a second monitor screen until I found it necessary for my current project. Using the Unity game engine, I need to view the actual game screen and the world editor at the same time. This cannot be done with my current laptop’s screen resolution which is 1366 x 768 with 15.3″ actual screen size. With this, I decided to buy a larger monitor so that I’ll have more screen space for my work. Moreover, I think this second monitor should be my main one. For programming, it can show more lines of code. For  movies, it can provide a larger display. For photo editing, 3D Modeling, and other media tools, it gives a wider screen space. So here’s the plan:

  • Set my laptop as my CPU (basically my main machine)
  • Buy a 2nd monitor
  • Buy a gaming mouse and keyboard (well, I never bought one before but I guess I was too stingy to buy a really good one… details are written below XD)
  • Buy an HDMI cable and a USB hub
  • Find a separate table

There. Now for the brief specifications of each item…

MSI CX61 Laptop

I actually posted all the info about this laptop in my first ever blog post. In case you haven’t read it, please do, so you’ll have all the information you need. V(^_^)V

MSI CX61 Laptop (Act as my CPU for my current workspace setup)

MSI CX61 Laptop (Act as my CPU for my current workspace setup)

Dell S2340L

This LED monitor spans 23 inches wide with a maximum screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 and an aspect ratio of 16:9. The glossy screen boasts 16.2 million colors and Dell’s “image enhance” technology creating it’s vivid display. It has a wide viewing angle measuring to 178 degrees. This is really convenient since back in the LCD monitor days, you can easily get an unclear view of the monitor like the one my old Dell Vostro 1500 laptop is using (haha how ironic). It comes with a VGA and HDMI input as well as an audio output. Just in case you’re confused, you can use the audio output to plugin your headphone or speaker since HDMI cables can transmit both video and audio data. In my case, I need to use a headset for Skype calls so I stick with the audio input and output socket of my laptop.

Dell S2340L: 23 " LED Monitor

Dell S2340L: 23 ” LED Monitor

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard

Yeah, I know I’m being stingy here. Dragonwar products are not the most recommended PC Gaming peripherals, but in any case, I gave it a try given the considerably low price. This gaming keyboard has backlight illumination (red for directional and WASD keys, blue for the others). The left windows key is replaced with a FN key (like the ones used for the laptop)  which is used in conjunction with the function keys (F1 -F10). The functions provide shortcuts for toggling the backlight on and off (hmm… I wonder why would I do that), accessing the basic controls for a media player, home page, bookmarks, search engine, and email client. It also has shortcuts for “My Computer” and Calculator (BEST SHORTCUT EVER :))). I wish there was a shortcut for the master volume since I use it a lot in my laptop. Besides, F11 and F12 are still vacant of  FN links. Oh well, it sounds like a first-world problem, so I won’t push it. Of course, if you have the dough, why not buy a Razer gaming keyboard instead.

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard: Maybe a poor man's Razer as dubbed by one of my former colleagues

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard: Maybe a poor man’s Razer as dubbed by one of my former colleagues

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse

Okay I get the point! I’m really getting stingy here. For consistency (that was a good excuse), I bought a Dragonwar gaming mouse. Other than the standard Left-Click, Right-Click, and Mouse-Scroll buttons, it also has two additional buttons, which are programmable using the X-Mouse button control software and a button for adjusting mouse sensitivity. The sensitivity can be adjusted in four different settings, 800, 1600, 2400, and 3200 dpi. To be honest, I’m already using a replacement right now since the first one became defective after playing One-Finger Death Punch for several hours. The game only uses the left and right mouse  buttons, so if you want to test your gaming mouse, this is the right game for you. Again, if you have enough money, just buy a Razer gaming mouse instead. 😀

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse and Kelly Mouse Platform

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse and Kelly Mouse Platform

Kelly Mouse Platform

My computer desk is pretty old and made for more orthodox mouse and keyboard sizes. Now that I’m using a gaming keyboard, I have no more space for my mouse, so for a while, my right arm is in a not-so-comfortable position as it extends farther compared to my left one. With this, I searched for any tool that I can use to extend my desk and move my mouse to a more convenient place. A few google searches here and there, and I found this site Galleon.ph which apparently sells products from different countries with all the shipping costs and customs’ fee included. Here, I managed to get the mouse platform that I’m using now. It took them roughly one month to deliver your purchased item, and in case there are delays, they will directly call you. The mouse platform is serving its purpose so far, and it’s easy to assemble. It uses an adjustable clamp which I believe is compatible with the standard tables that we use in the office.  The platform can be rotated so you can keep it out of the if you’re not using it or if you happen to use the mouse with your left hand.

HDMI Cable, USB-HUB, and An Additional Platform/Table

Well, nothing much to say here. To keep it simple, it is recommended to use an HDMI cable to achieve better display quality compared to standard VGA cables. It also doubles as an audio input device so you can plug in your speakers or headphones in the monitor instead. The USB-hub is just to add more USB slots. Currently, my laptop only has three USB slots (One 2.0 and Two 3.0) which I find to be insufficient, given that I’m now using a USB keyboard and mouse. As for the table/platform, I was lucky enough to find a spare small cabinet at home. This is where I place my laptop so that all the cables can be connected from there.

HDMI Cable for audio and video input. USB-hub for additional two USB slots.

HDMI Cable for audio and video input.
USB-hub for additional two USB slots.

There you have it. So far, I’m satisfied  with my setup with the exception of the replaced gaming mouse. If you have a mid-range laptop or higher, then this setup can be an option for you instead of assembling another CPU. Here’s a photo of my complete setup. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

My "Laptop as CPU" Setup

My “Laptop as CPU” Setup

My Top JPOP Song Revivals and Renditions

I seldom see some JPOP songs get revived by other artists, whether Japanese or non-Japanese, that’s why I thought of writing this post. One local artist actually made it to my list. Can you guess who that is? Well, read on to find out. 😉

Combatler V – TK+9 Factory

I consider the original version as one of the most intense robot anime opening song that I’ve ever heard. My teammate and I even listened to this song during our overtime work to rejuvenate our spirit LOL. The revived version, performed by TK+9 Factory transformed it to something more rock. The result may diverge from its accustomed tune, but I think it fits more with the other modern anime themes, besides, the same level of energy is still in tact with the song. Just watch the video above, and you’ll see what I mean.

Love So Sweet – Glay

Yes, you’re not mistaken. A JROCK band revived a song from the famous JPOP boy band Arashi. Originally a theme song to the JDrama version of “Hana Yori Dango”, this song was performed in one of Glay‘s concert. To be honest, I’m still seeking the boy band type of voice that fits with this song, but then again the live performance and the musicality that comes with it (Arashi just danced with the song  while Glay actually played it XD) make it an impressive performance.

Zutto Kimi no Soba De – Oystars(?)

I’m sorry, but I’m not that sure if Oystars was the one who sang this version XD. All I know is that they did a great job considering that the original one was sung by a female singer, Yuki Masuda. For those of you who were too young to know (ouch), this was the second ending song to the anime Flame of Recca. The opening song was performed by Oystars, hence the speculation haha. For those of you who haven’t watched the series, the Filipino version is currently aired so give it a try. One of the pretty decent series I’ve watched back in my *cough* *cough* high school days.

Cha-La Head-Cha-La – Gino Padilla / Flow

For this entry, I included two versions. The first one is from the famous JRock band Flow. This one was used for the recently released DBZ movie “Battle of Gods”. Even though I was disappointed with the movie, the revived song was pretty cool and gave justice to the original version. The other version I included here was actually performed by Gino Padilla. Yep, that same local artist who sang the theme song for an old Close-Up commercial. This version was used for the promotion of one of the DBZ Movies that was shown here in the Philippines, “The Greatest Rival” where Goku fought against Frieza’s brother Cooler. The translation is pretty decent, though some of the measures had to be adjusted, overall it sounded great.

1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou – Flow

Okay, as much I want to avoid entries from the same artist, I guess Flow just knows how to make a kick-ass revival of an anime song. If you’re a self-proclaimed Otaku and you don’t know where this song came from, shame on you LOL. For the others, this song was originally the 6th ending song of the anime  Rurouni KenshinI actually like the new song better. Compare the song with Siam Shade’s version and see for yourself. It seemed like the song evolved to a greater level due to the new arrangement. I’m excited to see their next target song (*_*).

I know that there are other songs that I missed with my limited knowledge of the Japanese music industry, so if you have any recommendations in mind, feel free to post it in the comments section. Now, time to replay 1/3 again. (~^_^)~