Coming soon: Flash tutorials!

And not just any tutorials, but an AS2 workshop where I’ll be recreating Angry Birds with third and fourth graders at my library! I admit this will be very beginner or educator friendly so if you were hoping for something more heavy duty I apologize. While the workshop is mostly for fun, it’s a great way to introduce game design basics to the little ones, and I also will be including them here on my blog, source files and all.

Preview of lesson #1, outlining the basics.

Gif of lesson #2 in action!

Currently lesson #3 is almost done but I keep on screwing up my math. (If you need a testimonial on how bad I actually am at math, just ask my D&D group.) There are 6 lessons in total so despite this hiccup, my progress has been amazing, and everything else has been coming along smoothly so I’m confident it will be finished in time.

If the tutorials are helpful I may do more in the future, so feel free to suggest away. HTML5 is also on my list next.

That aside, I’m also participating in a gaming roundtable discussion on Long Island next week. I’m hoping to demo one of my games as well but it seems more mainstream ones will be demonstrated for now, so that’s cool. I will still be attending either way, and will have notes when that happens.

“Prison Escape”: A post-mortem

This day wasn’t a day I would want to happen to any of my projects, let alone when it’s collaborated with another person’s work, but before I end 2014 it at least deserves a little burial ceremony. I’ve announced this earlier in December but never had an official update here (since I wanted to take care of its post-mortem in one fell swoop), but Prison Escape has been canceled. This post will break down what happened and why, and how most of all this was still a valuable learning experience. Keep in mind a lot of this gets technical, but since this is a gamedev blog, that’s just the nature of the business. If you’re not here to find out the nitty gritty on why, scroll down to the summary on the bottom.

As a recap, I started Prison Escape when my brother’s Kickstarter for a movie adaptation based on his graphic novel The Chair was preparing to launch for late Spring 2014. We sat down and planned things out for a mobile game to go with it, slated for a Fall 2014 release to iOS and Android. I’ve worked in Lua in the past, and this would be my first finished mobile game. (I did a drag-and-drop game for one of my thesis works.) Concept art and core mechanics were put to paper, and it was time to work.

Sadly not even 2 weeks in that was when the trouble started. While I knew Corona could port to iOS and Android, I was not aware you needed their respective OS’ for this to work (a copy of Corona on a Mac, and one for PC). I’ve worked with Macs in my university (and was probably why I didn’t pick up on this critical fact prior) but otherwise I am 150% a PC girl. Yes, despite being a graphic designer and an artist overall. Like most artists, I am not made of money, so spending almost a grand into a computer that will just be obsolete in 3 years doesn’t make much sense in my head. I know plenty of friends and other people (art folks and non-art folks alike) who will invest in a Mac regardless, and I’m cool with that. But the easiest way you can insult me is to recommend me ANY Apple product to replace anything in my tools of the trade.

That said, you can bet your lucky dollar that when I found this out with Corona’s port for iOS publishing, let alone most game engines for iOS publishing, steam was coming out of my ears. As a developer I’m fine with using or even buying a Macbook if I have to, but I had also just got myself a high-end Dell that Christmas beforehand. I would only get one if there were no other options.

So I did my research on cross-platform tools as a secondary option, and I fell upon Marmalade. While it’s popular for its C++, it can also run Lua and HTML5. Its license also extends across the board, so that one copy of the SDK can help port to iOS and Android all on one OS (other licensing fees and registrations are separate otherwise). So I took advantage of their free one-year GDC promo license, since I had just spent money on a one-year for Corona and was fairly annoyed at myself for my other mistake.

For a while, things with Marmalade went well, and I was even able to churn out a demo – a very buggy demo. For those who have only worked in Corona before, Marmalade’s Lua is almost the same, though keep in mind much of what Corona did was build its own libraries to make writing Lua a bit easier. Marmalade was straight-up bare-bones Lua. If you have an understanding of Corona’s Lua, for the most part you should be okay but many times I had no idea how certain functions or directories worked without using Corona’s built-in libraries (since the other didn’t understand what I was trying to call).

I will be honest – I am not an expert in Lua. But I do know enough to write something that should work. Why this project still fell flat on its face was that I didn’t know enough to break down why things weren’t working, let alone how to fix them. This was horribly obvious when it came to using its random numbers generation, and that was the biggest downfall for this project.

You see, generating a random number in Lua is more than just popping in “math.random(int)” (with “int” being whatever number value you want to put in). Simply using that line of code only generates one number at random upon start-up for the entirety of the game unless it’s restarted. It will need to be called again, usually with the help of functions, in order to help regenerate another number again and to keep things at random. However this is still not true randomness, and is often described more as pseudo-randomness instead. In the case of Lua, depending on what developer’s kit, or even OS that you’re running with, the algorithms for this can vary. explains this in more detail.

Normally this may not sound like a big deal for a game, and that can be true. If your game only requires its use for a small mechanic, you can get away with this without worrying about what algorithm is behind the numbers being generated at random. But games like endless runners heavily rely on random numbers, and anything that deters from the illusion that every obstacle and power-up is indeed coming up at random to the player, will make your game look like a piece of trash. Running too many generators will also steal your game’s memory like crazy, and if not cleaned up properly, will cause it to lag and eventually crash (which has happened in one of the more recent builds at one point).

I’m sure there are plenty workarounds for this type of problem, seeing that it’s common enough to be addressed across various forums and guides online. But those are things I would like to leave to a second helping hand who knows their way around code much better than myself. After looking over the problems and the other solutions left to continue the game, it was decided that the game should be canceled. Putting out a product that might only work half of the time or would just crash for certain users was absolutely not an option.

To make a long story short, difficulties with OS publishing and game crashes led us to cut life support for the project. It was quite a learning experience though, and maybe they’re some things that others can find helpful to keep in mind. Or to laugh at my foolishness, whichever is preferred.

I’ve made good progress with my visual novel however, so the next update will be on that. My story summary has changed since my last post about it, but many of the story aspects (and definitely characters) are still the same. As you may have guessed by now, the beta for it has been debunked because I have to shift that code over to make room for the actual intro. I’m still accepting voice actors though!

I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Weekend Update

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. I managed to continue Prison Escape throughout the past few weeks, though perfecting collisions is still slowing the project down. At least the touch D-pad works, as seen below. Part of the detections is still bugging up in the output though, so I’m going to isolate parts of the code today to see what I’m doing wrong. In worst-case, I’m prepared to start over and rebuild the game, as well as look into different programs and languages.


Still testing out the hitbox but otherwise touch D-pad is in action!

As of my visual novel, the prologue somewhat needs another rewrite, but it’s more like a shift of chapters. What I have so far actually would make more sense later on in the story (like around chapter 2 or 3). So I decided to push it over and focus on events before it, and make those parts the prologue instead. This is also from looking over everything from the original books I wrote to the more current light novel, and realizing that there is still backstory that needs to be explained before I dump the player into this world.

Sprites in motion

I have not been able to continue much spritesheets the past few weeks, due to starting a new job earlier this month. I love it so far but adjusting to a new schedule has prevented my gamedev progress otherwise. Soon you’ll see more updates again though! That’ll make the kids happy.

In the mean time, I do have news regarding Project: Mittens. We’re now working on an iOS-only port, and moving away from HTML5 for our demo. As a result, the demo will be released in March 2015 rather than this upcoming Thanksgiving.

Here’s one of the attacking sprites I worked on so far, enlarged. Due to the grids we’re using, the weapon sprites will animate next to the characters similar to old-school RPGs like the early Final Fantasies (so not to distort anything).

The other main kittens and enemies, minus the boss and the wizard, also have completed spritesheets.

The other main kittens and enemies, minus the boss and the wizard, also have completed spritesheets.

As of Prison Escape, it has a touch D-pad now! The jumps I put in were bugging things up and preventing progress, so now the player can avoid obstacles by moving up and down instead. If people prefer jumps as well, or only jumps, during playtesting, I will add them back in and get them to work nicer. Thanks to the D-pad though I can continue adding more enemies and obstacles to increase the game’s difficulty.

Fun Times with Weapons and Art Style Changes

(Note: this post is picture-heavy but that is probably a good thing for you! Less of my rambling to skim through!)

This month has been filled with exciting news! Some of which I couldn’t announce yet, and an important one regarding my gamedev progress will be released some time next week. (You’ll see what I mean but until then I thank you for your patience.)

I’ve been busy churning out more sprites for Project: Mittens, so here’s a glimpse of our concept weapon art. Some of the items shown didn’t make it to the demo unfortunately.


Shown are the possible weapons for the wizard and engineer classes.

The gun is probably my favorite one, since I usually don’t draw guns, so it was fun looking up antique/steampunk-looking ones. Perhaps in the full game it will?

Ninja and Monk's possible weapons.

Ninja and Monk’s possible weapons.

I also finally have an update regarding my visual novel (Which Shall Remain Nameless apparently because I’m horrible with titles). Aside from gamedev I had a major art block regarding my drawings for the past few months, and just felt that even things I sketched out just didn’t seem right no matter how much I worked on them. So I took a break to focus on more things like sprites and coding.

Earlier this week I realized I could try mixing two styles I had done in the past, one which was more anime-like and had done for several years, the other more recent as of this year. So last night I went back and did a sketch of one of the VN’s characters, Catherine. She seems to be a popular “model” for me, must be the hair and the fact that she hides one eye so symmetry isn’t so much of an issue? Not that I have a problem with symmetry anyway.

While the sketch took longer than my normal ones, it was worth ironing out, and I am very satisfied with the result. I hope you are too! Here’s a comparison of my progression so you can see what I mean.

An example of my older works in the style I mentioned. (She's actually from the same world that the VN is set but that's for another day.)

An example of my older works in the style I mentioned. (She’s actually from the same universe that the VN is set but that’s for another day.)

Original sample avatar.

Original sample avatar.

2nd version of sample avatar.

2nd version of sample avatar.

Concept sketch for avatar style as of last night.

Concept sketch for new avatar style as of last night.

So far it seems the hybrid of the two works best, and I’ve had some good feedback from others already! The progression seems slight but little details make a big difference, and the more I can work with the hybrid style, the more art you’ll see more of soon!

As of coloring, while I do more of a watercolor-like technique these days, I also plan to test it out with more of a graphical look too. I normally don’t do the latter though, as I generally don’t do harsh lineart (and that looks best with that type of stuff), but I’d like to hear opinions anyway!

Wait…barfing unicorns?!

I’ll get to that in a bit. It’s not as gross as it sounds, trust me!

I wanted to wait for more updates and fixes to be done with my projects so I could condense it into a larger post like here. First on the agenda, I finally got my bullets working properly in Prison Escape!

I like how the more gifs I do of this game, the more Sullivan looks like he has to run to the bathroom.

As you can see, the bullets now regenerate upon leaving the screen or colliding with Sullivan. However, I’ve been meaning to update his collisions so they’re more precise, and now is finally the time since the randomizing of the bullets will help see this more visually. Unlike the ugly green box from last, he now has 3 neat skinnier boxes, which now just have to be tested (aka math).

“But what about the particles?”, you’re wondering. Yes, they were a lot of fun, but I plan to make little explosions when the bullets hit Sullivan so you know if you got hit or not. For now they’re turned off, though coincidentally, making them move around was what helped me figure out how to regen the bullets, so thanks particles!

As of barfing unicorns and particles, here’s the mini-app I ended up compiling on a whim from my last update. I obviously had too much fun with the whole thing.

Hmmm is that were rainbows come from?

So far, the point is that when you tap the screen, rainbow splatters go everywhere. Surprisingly enough, Marmalade also registers multitouch with the license I have, so I learned something nifty that day! (To be honest I’m not even sure if Corona does the same thing for the same type of license I used to have but I never got around to experiment.) Other silly features the game would eventually have, should I ever want to continue it even for my own amusement, would be randomized techno upon touch, other variants of splatters, and accessories for the lovable unicorn here (hats and other clothes). People like customization! (Just nod your head and go with it.)

For something a bit more serious though, I do have an important announcement regarding Project: Mittens, the top-down adventure game with fantasy cats I have also been collaborating with a few people. An audio designer is now on board, and the date for the full working demo has been changed to Thanksgiving rather than September 30th due to conflicting schedules. The current playable demo is still live though, so if you didn’t get to check it out yet, you can still do that. (Please do!) A few bugs and errors were fixed thanks to our prototyping results, so it works even smoother than it did before!

Currently the playable demo only has the Engineer available, and no enemies.

While the newer workable demo is in the works, I will be supplying more sprite/sheets, so except some more previews of that to come in the next few weeks!

The Magical Mystery Bullet

Also known as “I got slammed with double shifts like crazy so I apologize for being quiet lately but thank you for your patience”!. Phew!

Despite my crammed schedule, Prison Escape (which I mistakenly kept on calling Prison Break for the longest time and had to be corrected by my client, sorry!) is moving along well! I fixed some bugs from the rough demo release that was shown and well-received despite them. I also decided that making the bullets as particles instead would be a better workaround, since I was still having trouble getting them to spawn from arrays for some reason.

So after plugging in the bullets with the default settings for MarmaladeSDK’s particle effect, this magical wonder happened:



The Magical Mystery Bullets are dying to take you away!


Of course, it would be bad taste to leave them in the game’s final release, but the effect is so dang humorous that I decided to save that idea for another game I will be making after this one is done. It’ll be much simpler and will be very colorful and wacky, as most of my games tend to be. After working on so many projects that were rather involved, or had short deadlines, I feel that doing a smaller and more casual game would help give myself a break while still churning out work.

I was hoping to even do a prototype tonight just to mess around, but I think I’ll hold off for my next update. 

“This Game Is Not A Dating Sim”: a post-mortem

Congratulations to all the winners!

Congratulations to all the winners!

I would’ve been happy to be another nominee again in this second jam, but to actually be one of the winners..! Wow!! Absolutely blows my mind! You guys are amazing! Thank you!

Fortunately this game was not ridden with as many bugs as “Compendium” did, aside from few I will mention anyway because there’s no such thing as a perfect game (everything can always be made better!). The feedback was still just as astounding though, and it is very obvious that people love adorable talking fruit with crazy personalities. 

It was fun to hear that a lot of fans liked the characters, such as good ol’ Apple here.


  • Lots of thumbs-up about the story and all of the characters. Players hoped to see some of them come back in later into the route, and learn more about them. Most stuck through to the end.
  • Overwhelming positives on the audio! I admit even when I play visual novels, sometimes I will mute or skip audio and lines if they distract me or don’t do much to add to the game. Some players reported waiting until the dialogue on the screen finished appearing in the textbox in order to hear the silly voices, or pick certain routes to see other characters and hear their voices. Of course I owe this to amazing license-free artists out there, as well as talented friends (I did voices too but only today did my first high-quality microphone get in the mail.)
  • Artwork! Unlike “Compendium” where I largely wanted to focus on code, the type of art style seen in this game is more typical to what I actually do, both graphically and for gamedev. It was a lot of fun showing others what I do, and seeing the feedback from that. If you also dig it too, I am free for collaborating or supplying assets (either as a contractor or via asset trade for another gamejam), so check out the jam thread for details.


  • Lack of gameplay was a defining fault to this submission, and understandably so. Unless it’s a point-and-click adventure puzzle (like of Nancy Drew or Monkey Island), visual novels are largely passive compared to other forms of interactive media. (I discussed this theme already with my Animal Crossing article.) Most add routes and branching paths to circumvent, and I myself had 4 endings planned. But that gets me to my second bullet -
  • Math in Python. It should be easy but for some reason I couldn’t even get basics to work! I’m still scratching my head at how it could have compiled errors when I was making the game. All I know is that it’s a syntax issue and I was unable to find the solution by the deadline, but I plan to resolve it when I continue this game, as well as for my other visual novel (which is still sadly nameless and on the back-burner). I have a feeling that if I did get the math and the endings to work, the rating could have easily been higher, and it’s pretty high as it is.
  • As much as everyone did like the audio, the levels were off on some. One song was louder than another, and since I only upgraded to a better microphone just yesterday, my audio I recorded was also noticeably lower than my friend’s. I will have to readjust so everything is even with their levels, and I also plan to go back and rerecord mine to a better quality. Insert HD bundle deal with pre-order swag marketing campaign here.
  • A minor but still important detail, but oddly the end credits didn’t play in the order I wanted to. It only shows one of the slides and that’s it. Good thing I did a Read Me file this time! That covers me with credits either way, but I would still like to also properly credit in the end of the game itself too. That at least is an easy fix, but the past week and a half have been nuts and I failed to get to it earlier while the jam was going on.

Another thing I would like to mention as a neutral point, was that some noticed the large file size. To be honest, I just went and compiled to all the major OS’ available to be safe (Windows, Mac, and Linux), and uploaded that to my Dropbox so it wouldn’t hog space. I know now that I don’t have to compile all of them like that, and that I can just do them individually based on whatever OS the player has. So in the future when I make something from Ren’py again, it won’t be a large size!

I would list it as a con, however others had no problem downloading regardless, and I think at that point it’s a matter of the player’s Internet settings and issues. I do apologize for those that had a hard time playing or opening the file however; it’s not a fun thing to go through!

Again, thank you everyone for playing, voting, telling your friends, and so on. If you want a full list of the songs used and where you’d like to see more of their work, please let me know and I can dig it up (until I get the credits properly working). They are also in the Read Me file though. Thanks and take care!

A word on Project: Mittens and others

Two announcements! First off, I can finally release artwork and a demo based on the 2D RPG game I was working on with a colleague, Project: Mittens. Link opens to the demo we have so far, and a more finalized version will be out at September 30th.

Starting classes you can choose from, at left to right and top to bottom: Ninja, Wizard, Monk, and Engineer.


Example of one of the enemies you’ll be fighting, a rat. Armor coming soon!


In the mean time, a working demo is almost finalized for The Chair: Prison Break, based off of the successfully funded graphic-novel-to-indie-movie Kickstarter. Surprisingly enough, I got collisions working, and some obstacles and projectiles are now moving across the screen! (Will have a better gif at the end of the week to demonstrate this.)

Of all things though, the next hurdle became showing the player how many lives they have left! Arrays didn’t work, and when I used spritesheets instead, Marmalade decided to run out of memory and crash the game for the night. I’ll have to come up with a backup solution for the time being, but it’s a method I’m not fond of using for the final release unless nothing else works.

The demo is due by the weekend, so my next update will have all of the goodness I can show for, as the game wraps up quickly. I’m excited to finish up this amazing project, it’s taught me well on the ins and outs of Lua, and while some parts can still be frustrating, it’s becoming to make more sense to me. I’ve even looked at my code now and realized how much more efficient I can make it for the final release.

So with that, Project Mittens, and This Game Is Not A Dating Sim being wrapped up for demos soon, it’s fun seeing everything come together in one big package. For so long everything I’ve done or helped with has been under development that it felt like there was no end in sight. Good to see some great feedback out of it!


Speaking of, two Let’s Players reviewed my game for Insanity Jam #2! One was brought on by Lone Roach Studios and was quite extensive and amusing to watch! I didn’t even notice I had a few grammatical errors in the dialogue, so I appreciate him going out of his way to really provide good feedback with his LP!

The 2nd is Jupiter Hadley, who did a brief LP for all of the submitted games. I recommend watching through all of them (many on there I liked myself), but if you wanna jump to just mine, it’s towards the end. A great shoutout no less!

Currently, the game is still tied for first place for the jam with a whopping 8 out of 10! I kindly ask you again to spread the word, and play and vote if you hadn’t yet. You have until August 11th! (I was misinformed last time, you have an extra day!) Thank you, and good luck everyone!

Voting Starts Now for “This Game Is Not A Dating Sim”!

Clicking on image will open voting link in new window!

My submission for Insanity Jam #2 is all wrapped up! Voting starts now until August 10th! You’ll need an account for the forums in order to vote along the new criteria set up, so spread the word and give your feedback!

Please keep in mind that there’s only one route and ending available so far in the playable. My math skills in Python aren’t so hot and I ended up breaking things everywhere just for attempting subtraction. There’s a reason I was an art major!

After voting wraps up and feedback is gathered, I’ll be doing a post-mortem, which I’m actually excited to do since this actually is my first visual novel I made. First time making and putting in my own audio as well, with some help from friends and license-free material, of course.

Anyway, hope you enjoy and vote vote vote!