Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A few Book Recommendations 1

Hey everyone,

I've been meaning to do this post for a while - however I held off it whilst I was still doing some reading. I wanted to list a few books I've gone through and recommend as they have many or some concepts that may be of interest to be entrepreneurial individuals or game developers. I will list what books I have gone through, as well as those I am currently reading. I do have a number of books I plan on reading the coming months - but I will talk of those next time.


Books I have finished

The $100 Start-up by Chris Guillebeau
For anyone looking to start up a company but is afraid of what many perceive to be a highly expensive activity, the $100 start-up shows people who have invested a lot of time and effort - and sometimes little money. Though that is not why I recommend the book per say. 

The book speaks of a lot of concepts that individuals with little or no background on business may be able to relate to or understand. It speaks a lot about various ways to go about planning and thinking about your idea and building a viable plan of action towards it. It won't provide you with the in-depth information than if you were to do more research on the areas talked about - but it will definitely give you a very good basis to start with, not to mention a starting point and some much needed inspiration.

The Entrepreneurial Blueprint by Peter Voogd
This book focuses a lot on what I believe entrepreneurship really needs. It focuses more on yourself - be it on your perspective, your ideas and your attitude. Being a master a business may get you somewhere - but even then you probably got there or what kept you there is your character. This book (or audio book as I have gone through an audio book version of it) provides you with a very good perspective - and whilst many of which I had already felt like I knew from my own research; I still found a number of really useful concepts that I believe in today. 

I highly recommend this book - it offers something stronger than a business book would towards achieving what you want to achieve. It's focus is more on you, the entrepreneur, rather than you and your business idea. Something that may often be overlooked.

Currently Reading Through

Designing Games: a Guide to Engineering Experiences by Tynan Sylvester
This is currently the first book that is solely focused on game design I am reading. It is shaping and providing me a very good foundation on how to think about designing games. Up to writing this I have just started the 3rd Part - which is around page 367. Based solely on what I have read until now I do recommend this book, although I will likely make a better recommendation once I've finished it.

The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
As the name might suggest - this book's aim is to provide a more personalised education towards business that would be better than going to a university to get the degree for business or similar. It definitely caught my attention when I was browsing the shelves and decided to give it a go. I am not very far in yet so I cannot make a recommendation as of yet but I do like what I have read so far. 

The Business Book 
This is more like an encyclopaedia if you will of business concepts. It covers a wide area of topics and gives a fairly nice and simple way to explain them. If you are someone interested in business and may not have much experience in the area - I think it can be useful for reference. As a business student, I am finding it very interesting and useful for my studies - so I can imagine it being useful for other business students as well. It doesn't go much in depth on topics, but it offers the basis and you can simply look up the rest. It has nice useful diagrams to explain various elements and I have discovered a number of things which I was unaware of before - even as a business student. I have only just started reading through it - so as with the Personal MBA I cannot place a recommendation yet - however it seems to be quite useful so I do say check it out and see if it interests you.

I hope you found any of these useful - even if you found just one useful, I am definitely glad that is the case! I will come back and write more as I go along and give you my views on the ones that I read and go through!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Focusing on Yourself

Hello everyone,

Today I just wanted to post regarding something that has become more or less the philosophy I am working and pushing with. I've had a number of people who also are interested in either starting a company or simply have something they want to do - a dream if you will. We tend to always hit off when discussing that subject and people have always brought forward the points as to why they should reconsider their options. My response tended to be always similar - if not in exact terms; similar in meaning; "There will always be a reason for you  to not do what you dream about and want to do. Even if your doing something that will be incredibly beneficial to people - you will still have those who will see to it that they don't encourage you to do it."

When I began my full pursuit of achieving my dreams - I focused on the single constant throughout my entire life. Myself - whether it was good times or bad times, whether I was doing great or not doing great - I was always the consistent element. Building a solid foundation within yourself is the first step to achieving what you want to achieve. You believing in that dream and pushing towards achieving that dream is what you need - everyone else is a bonus.

I have people in my life that support and push me forward when times get hard - and without them things would be so much harder. What you need to understand though is that they can't hear what you tell yourself in your mind when things get hard. If as soon as you get some resistance you decide to stop thinking about your dream - chances are you'll abandon it. If you make sure that you keep pushing towards your goals - that's the first step to making sure they get done. As Confucious once said; "It does not matter how slow you go - as long as you don't stop." Leave the discouragement to what people will tell you - you don't need to discourage yourself. Be strategic - plan your way to your goal, see what skills and characteristics you need to achieve it and work on that. Build the foundation upon which your dreams will be built.

Until next time,

Monday, 14 December 2015

Tools of the Trade

Hello everyone,

Today I chose to compile a small list of tools that I make use of that may or may not be useful for beginning game developers. The tools are split depending on their function - and needless to say there are very likely alternative programs that you could use in place of these; but I will be listing the ones I've been using primarily myself - as well as ones I'm looking to use and try out down the line.

Software: Pyxel Edit
URL: http://pyxeledit.com/

As many of you who read my blog likely know - Pyxel Edit has been my software of choice when it comes to pixel art. It's tiling features coupled with it's easy shading and lighting preview with the colour pallet has made it much easier and convenient to learn and use as I went on.

Software: Graphics Gale
URL: http://www.humanbalance.net/gale/us/

Graphics Gale was the first pixel art software I actually used - it is definitely worth checking out and I found that got the job done and is fairly easy to get to animating with. The software is more or less free - with the optional purchase to allow you to export to certain formats.

Software: Inkscape
URL: https://inkscape.org/en/

Inkscape is a software I have not tried yet - I have downloaded and install it but I've yet to give it a try. I have seen some videos online of what it is capable of and I am excited to starting practicing with this software at a later date. If your not into pixel art itself - then Inkscape may be a very good alternative for 2D sprites. It is an open source software so there's no reason not to give it a test run if your interested!

Software: Qubicle
URL: http://www.minddesk.com/

Qubicle is a software I have very excited to try out hopefully in the near future. It is a 3D editor that works via voxels. Think little squares that make up a model - 3D pixels if you will. Stonehearth is a game that uses this style and seeing the various models and what has been made using this software gets me excited to give use it for my own projects.

Software: Blender
URL: https://www.blender.org/

Blender is a software I used a while ago - it is used to make 3D models and if that's what your looking for then it's hard to go wrong with Blender as it's free and open sourced. It fairly powerful - however it is a bit daunting to get into until you put some practice into it. There are a lot of online tutorials to learn from so don't worry about lacking training resources.

Software: 3dsMax and Maya
URL: http://www.autodesk.com/products/3ds-max/overview   http://www.autodesk.com/products/maya/overview

These are both 3D modelling software - they do have a student's version to use and practice with but for commercial uses you need to purchase the license which isn't cheap. I have more experience with Maya where the user interface felt more user friendly than 3dsMax and Blender - however with practice you can get the hang of both. Both are powerful software - from what I found out many use Maya for movie-based development where as 3dsMax is used more towards game development - however you can always use either or for both as far as I'm aware.

Software: BFXR
URL: http://www.bfxr.net/

BFXR is a really useful software if you want to create quick game sounds that are reminiscent of many old 2d games. It's a free software and comes with a browser app as well as a downloadable client - both of which work very well.

Software: Audacity
URL: http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/

Audacity is a software that allows you to modify and change existing sounds by adding in effects or simply manipulating the sound itself. It is free and open sourced and if you need a sound editing software you can give this a try. It is powerful and fairly simple to use - especially since you can simply look up tutorials to get a hang of the software.

Software: LMMS 
URL: https://lmms.io/

LMMS is a software I have not used - however those of you who read my blog may remember Amik Lanfranco [Soundcloud Profile]. She made quite a lot of tracks using LMMS and she shows that the software is capable of a lot if you simply experiment and work with it.

Game Engine
Software: RPG Maker Series
URL: http://www.rpgmakerweb.com/

The RPG Maker series is a series of game engines that create primarily 2D RPG style games with turn based combat. You are able to use the Ruby coding language and other coding languages within the newest RPG Maker MV engine to change things around. It is a good engine to try out - particularly if your not too keen on coding just yet.

Software: GameMaker
URL: http://www.yoyogames.com/studio

GameMaker is currently the engine I am practising with and making use of. It is a very good engine which I am still scratching the surface of. I would recommend checking out some games that were made using GameMaker such as Stealth Bastard.

Software: Unity
URL: https://unity3d.com/

Unity is a game engine that is extremely powerful and offers a lot of versatility. It can be used for 2D and 3D games - however you will need to know how to code, unless you have someone working with you that already does. There are a lot of different elements to Unity that you can learn using the online resources of the engine itself as well as Youtube and so on.

There is a vast amount of software that I have not covered here. Finding the software that works for you is very important. Just like a carpenter needs their tools to create their own masterpieces and finish their projects - you will need your own tools as a game developer to create and finish your own projects and master pieces. Depending on whether you want to focus on a single area of game development - or want to get a piece of everything, you would obviously need to focus on certain software more so than others. A coder may need to understand more on how an engine works and what coding languages it accepts - where as an graphical artist may simply need to know the format and what the engine will accept and how the project will look like. Sound artists would be similiar - they simply need to know what is needed for the project and how to get the sound they need to make it work - so learning what the software you use is capable of is important.

Until next time,