A New Kind of Game Jam

Recently I got into a long discussion with my good friend (and awesome audio engineer) David Manuel about what could be done to encourage innovation in today’s games industry. Companies tend to stick with what they know in order to keep their employees in a job and their balance sheet in the positive, even if this means being unable to consider taking (even calculated) risks. Doing so has the inevitable effect of stifling innovation within the sector and breeding same-old products, which in turn discourages further investment.

Ultimately, companies and small independent teams alike need the freedom to experiment with new ideas. The solution needs to capitalise on the creation of original concepts while still being low risk to the company’s time. By the same token, it should also encourage collaboration, testing and feedback within the industry and gaming community in order to maximise promotion and participation.

So here’s the idea:

“Incubator Jam”

A game jam that you’re used to, designed to encourage innovation while ensuring that content rights stay with development teams. Continue reading A New Kind of Game Jam

Setting Up Haxe and NME in FlashDevelop

Tired of jumping between different languages when working on new projects? Looking to reuse your game engine across many different platforms with no extra porting effort? Haxe is an open source write-once build-anywhere language and compiler developed with this in mind.

With the current trend of ubiquitous gaming brings the need for ubiquitous game development, and what better way to get the best bang for your buck than to write in one language that does all the native compilation legwork for you.

I’ve been looking into Haxe as a means of time-efficient distribution between multiple platforms. My main rule was that the applications had to be natively compiled (as I’ve found HTML5 performance to be heavily lacking, even when virtualised). It lead me to Haxe as a solution, and its simplicity was impressive.

This guide covers how to set up a Haxe project with NME in FlashDevelop for Windows. Continue reading Setting Up Haxe and NME in FlashDevelop

Untold Entertainment Made in jQuery Part 3 – The Project Slider

Being a showcase for the Flash work of Untold Entertainment, the image slider is used as the main focus of the home page and displays his latest projects. Continuing from the first two tutorials, I’ll now show you how to create this slider with jQuery.

We’ll be treating the slider as a separate element from our Twitter bar before, so no need to use old code here.

With the abundance of jQuery image gallery plugins and scripts it’s safe to say that jQuery makes this sort of thing in particular run a lot more smoothly than with plain JavaScript. This section will be the easiest part of the series.

Let’s dive in. Continue reading Untold Entertainment Made in jQuery Part 3 – The Project Slider

Untold Entertainment Made in jQuery Part 2 – Styling the Twitter Bar

Carrying on from the first part of creating a Flash-less home page on Untold Entertainment, we add to the tutorial on animating Twitter text with some more usability and style.

We start off by generating links (to URLs and Twitter pages) inside the text, make a couple of buttons to skip the tweets backwards and forwards, then animate the Twitter bird and speech bubble as a background. Continue reading Untold Entertainment Made in jQuery Part 2 – Styling the Twitter Bar

Untold Entertainment Made in jQuery Part 1 – Animating Twitter Text

Ryan Creighton’s Flash development site Untold Entertainment has a quirky home page with plenty of animation and things to click on (complete with roll-out tongue) and of course is built in Flash. Thing is, I’m against any kind of Flash interface. It’s great for games, but otherwise it’s unnecessary (which includes videos).

With the whole Adobe v Apple debate that’s going on right now (yes, I said I wouldn’t mention it but it applies here ‘kay), it’s safe to say you’d be better placing your chips on the JavaScript and HTML5 end of the table.

The discouraging part is that his website could be done without Flash as most of the scrolling and animating could be done with straight JavaScript, and jQuery will help see things along smoothly.

Today I’ll show you how to animate the text at the top, feeding in from his Twitter feed, complete with jerky timings, slanted text and collecting feed data. Continue reading Untold Entertainment Made in jQuery Part 1 – Animating Twitter Text

Copying Images with allow_url_fopen Switched Off

I’m working on a Facebook app that needs to collect images from an external server. Normally I could use a function like copy to do this, but this requires allow_url_fopen to be on and a lot of providers like mine have this turned off to tighten server security.

Eventually I came across file_get_contents to do the job. Since this also needs allow_url_fopen to be on, my post on fetching page content with cURL came to mind.

This does the same thing without restrictions on privacy and is available on most current setups. Continue reading Copying Images with allow_url_fopen Switched Off

Messing with Background-Attachment

Earlier this week I came across an interesting Tumblr theme by Jarred Bishop. The site played with the background-attachment CSS property to show a unique background for each Tumblr post on his main page (depending on which post image he used) and stays static as you scroll.

I started to play around with some code to replicate this effect and instead came up with some different examples, while still manipulating background-attachment. Hit the jump for some demos. Continue reading Messing with Background-Attachment

Load WordPress Gravatars on the Fly

Globally Recognised Avatar (or Gravatar) is a service from the WordPress team that allows you to improve your web presence across blogs and specialist websites. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” products that are so simple but yet have so much opportunity to be integrated into virtually everything. You can see examples of this from the comments below and in my sidebar.

The problem with Gravatars that I find a lot of people mentioning is that they don’t get to see their Gravatar before they post a comment – like the comments section on Shamus Young’s Wavatar post.

You may not think that’s too big of a deal, or perhaps from a marketing point of view that’s your way of driving comments (nasty people), but allowing them to play about with their image in the form will improve their relationship with your site and increase traffic anyway. Saves people deleting and re-commenting just because their Gravatar didn’t show up right too.

So this week I’ve put together a little script that generates these little Gravatars as you type. It’s even got little Wavatar faces on them that change when you make a new address, so you’ll never get bored! Continue reading Load WordPress Gravatars on the Fly