Getting back into Blender

In the summer of 2009 I took a course in computer animation where my team made March of the Tennis Balls. Everything was done in Blender from modelling to post processing and I became very comfortable using the Blender interface. Since then I have been mostly using Maya and Cinema 3D. Blender also received a major interface redesign. This weekend I spent a bit of time familiarizing myself with the new interface. I’m really impressed with how well organized it is. I can definitely see myself using Blender to create art for my games quickly, which is something I worry about when I’m doing everything myself.

Here is a Bomb Droid mech I created for the board game project as part of the mentorship I previously talked about. I tried to use mostly primitives and purposely kept it simple so my mentee could learn from it and create his own.

Mentorship board game progress

My friend Lanz Singbeil and I have been mentoring a 10 year old in board game design for the past seven weeks. We talked about different ways designers come up with ideas, design constraints, mechanics, systems, emergent gameplay and more. We always made sure to teach concepts that could be directly applied to the game project. It is rather amazing how quickly he picked up on the game design concepts we taught him. His family plays a lot of great board games including many euro-style games, which was extremely helpful when talking about game design. Besides designing board games, he also creates iPhone games using GameSalad, although I don’t think any have been released yet.

The initial idea for the board game was a cooperative game similar to Castle Ravenloft but with a mecha theme. He came up with the idea on his own before the mentorship started so all we had to do was help him refine the design. At one point it was more complicated than Castle Ravenloft so we scaled back but it is still quite complex. There is a crafting system for weapons and armour and a card based combat system similar to Cosmic Encounter. Here is a picture of a recent playtest on a small board with a “collect the artefacts” scenario.

The 3DS is amazing

I picked up my Aqua Blue 3DS with Pilotwings Resort this morning and it is way more than I thought it would be. I’m really excited about the AR Games and hope developers will produce some really interesting titles for that. Nintendo clearly needs to include AR Pokemon battles in their next Pokemon game. Face Raiders works surprisingly well and I love the concept of moving around in a virtual space. I think later today I’ll record some game design ideas in my design notebook. If you have a 3DS, check out my Mii below.

Collage of past game projects

I thought it would be fun to create a collage of some of my past game projects of the last few years. Quite a few of them were for game jams I organized for the SFU Game Developers Club and those were perhaps the most enjoyable ones to work on. It was very humbling working with amazing artists and musicians while focusing on programming for once.  Of the projects I worked on, Evil Genius VS Spies is perhaps the most polished game. I will someday upload these games but for now here is a collage of screenshots.

Various projects I've worked on in the past few years.

Some projects I've worked on in the past few years.

Global Game Jam starting in a few hours

I’m looking forward to participating in the Global Game Jam this year, which will start in just a few hours. This will be my first GGJ since last year I signed up too late. I have participated in numerous 48 hour competitions in the past so I know how difficult it is to create a game in such a short timespan. My plan this time is to get the essential experience prototyped as quickly as possible to evaluate if the idea is actually fun. I have in the past wasted too much time on ideas that weren’t fun and ended up starting over. I haven’t decided if I want to use XNA or Unity 3D but I’m leaning more towards Unity.

Going indie!

Okay some people may think I’m a bit crazy for doing this right away but I’ve decided to go indie right away instead of first gaining experience in the game industry. While I certainly think industry experience would be beneficial, I want to give it a try first and if things go badly start thinking about what I want to do. Right now I’m learning Unity and determining if I want to use it or XNA, which I’m more familiar with.  The plan is to do as many rapid prototypes as possible to get used to using Unity and post the decent ones on web portals that support Unity to see what people think.

I’ve been going to the Vancouver Indie Game Developers Meetup for the last few months and I always come home more motivated than ever. The meetup yesterday was amazing with  over 70 indies showing up. Here’s a picture with Samppa (left) and I (right) at the meetup. I met Samppa at university and he’s been making a lot of Flash games for a couple years now. Be sure to check out his games at Overworld Labs.

Reddit concept art class, lesson 2

Copying a photo with guides and sampling values is incredibly easy compared to coming up with original concepts. For this lesson the goal was to use silhouettes to generate many ideas in a short amount of time. I spent around 10-13 minutes on each one and noticed by the end I had become quicker at sketching out ideas.  There is certainly room for improvement in both time and quality.

Moonsoon project video

This is the result of my immersive environments class and the game pitch I mentioned previously.  I worked in a team of four and we used the Unreal Development Kit, Maya for modelling, and ZBrush for creating normal maps and texturing. A few sections of the mansion were cut as we ran out of time and we probably shouldn’t have worried about the polycount as much as we did. Overall it was a great learning experience but there was so much more my team wanted to do.

One of my team members, Lanz Singbeil, put together a video showing it off. He also created most of the sound effects and composed the music, which I found really impressive.


Reddit concept art class, first lesson

I’m participating in the Reddit University Game Concept Art and Drawing class so thought I’d share my homework on my blog each week. The idea behind this lesson was to learn to draw what you see instead of what you think you see. I’ve done exercises in the past with the same concept but usually required you to focus on one part at a time without seeing the whole. The approach the instructor, General_Lee, suggested was to use grid lines to help find the spatial relationship between shapes and I really liked this approach. However, I probably used more grid lines than I should have but it’s a start!


The last few months I spent considerable time learning ZBrush to create normal and colour maps for a UDK game project I worked on. One thing I learnt pretty quickly was if the base model didn’t have good topology it would be pretty difficult to add detail where I wanted to. My team never bothered to use the re-topology tools available since it would have changed the base mesh and we didn’t have the time. Fast forward to today, I learnt that a sculpting program called Sculptris has been released that solves this problem by dynamic subdivision that adds sufficient detail where needed. I was also delighted to hear that it will be implemented in my favourite 3D package, Blender.

Below is an image of an elephant alien that took me a few minutes to do in Sculptris. I consider this a sketch since I can think of a lot more I could do with it such as adding skin texture and sharpening up some areas to distinguish between bone and flesh.

Elephant Alien

Quick 5 minute sculpture