My Year in Review for 2012

Game Business Games Life

Time Flies

Time Flies:

It’s time for my year end summary! Yeah, I know we’re half way through February but what can I say? I guess I haven’t been doing a great job at keeping folks up to date on what I’ve been working on. I am aiming to get back on the blogging horse (is that a thing?) in 2013, but I better start off with reviewing what has transpired already: Continue reading

Oops!..I Got Married Again – New Flash Game

Art Game Business Games

Oops!..I Got Married Again

Aw, Britney – ready for love again! And only two minutes to make it to the altar! But what is all this…baggage? Cheetos, ex boyfriends, and delicious snacks! Fortunately, there are a few powerups to make this wedding happen. All the cheezy puffs in the world can not stand in the way of love!

I finished up a contract viral news game for MTV’s Addicting Games portal this past week. The topic of the game was Britney Spears’ upcoming wedding tomorrow on Valentine’s Day at an undisclosed tropical destination.

I was responsible for creating all of the art, as well as any programming required for the game engine.

One of my favorite highlights was getting to create a power up where Britney gets to surf on the famous snake from the VMA music awards! There are three other silly power ups as well that were modeled from her various music videos and tours.

The fine folks over at Addicting Games provided some humorous voice acting for the various in-game characters too.

Give it a try over at Addicting Games and see if you can get Britney to the “altar” in time.

 

Flash Game Polish Tips: Audio

Tutorials

HeadphonesI spend a lot of time thinking about things that will improve my Flash games. If you use sponsorship or licensing models in the Flash game business you are really marketing to two audiences–your players and your potential sponsors.

I want to provide the best experience I can to my players within a reasonable amount of effort while at the same time I also want to make sure my game is going to provide as little friction as possible to potential sponsorship or licensing.

To that end I have 5 tips I wanted to share for dealing with audio in your Flash games that I’ve found helpful:

Tip #1 – Normalize your music and sound effects

This is a very simple tip but it is too often overlooked. Normalizing is basically just making sure that the loudest volume levels of all your sound effects and music are at a consistent and good target peak.

Normalizing your audio assets before you import them into your Flash library is a good way to improve your workflow. You know that all your audio is within a consistent peak range and you can balance further with your software volume settings.

You can use a free program like Audacity to provide normalization. I’ve found the default setting of normalizing to -3dB works well.  If you are using Windows 7 you’ll want to get the beta for Audacity.

Tip #2 – Individual controls for sound effects and music

Why provide two controls? A nice thing about having independent controls for sound effects and music is that it can give the player more freedom over the experience of your game. It can allow them to keep your sound effects playing but still jam out to their own music. Another reason is sometimes the player doesn’t mind the sound effects but maybe the music is starting to get repetitive the 100th time they’ve played your chain reaction game. I look for any little tips to keep players happy and in the game and I’ve had many positive player comments from implementing this feature.

Tip #3 – Provide common key bindings for audio control toggles

Setup a keyboard listener in Flash to respond to some common keys. I like to bind the ‘S’ key to toggle the sound effects and the ‘M’ key to toggle the music.  This is a real simple touch that allows your players to quickly mute your game when they can’t find the onscreen audio controls. Remember to provide text somewhere to let your players know these settings controls!

Tip #4 – Use volume sliders for sound effects and music

The good thing about providing volume sliders over a simple mute/un-mute toggle is that your players can mix the volume to suit their individual speakers or headphones. It can be incredibly hard to master and mix your game volumes correctly so that it will sound decent and in balance across the many audio systems it will be played through. Volume sliders give the power to the players to tweak one up or down to get that balance that is pleasing to their ears.

Tip #5 – Save sound and music settings in a shared object

This last tip I have implemented most recently based on some player feedback I got. I really like this tip because it never occurred to me until I received a story from a player. The player got busted by their boss for playing one of my games in the office because they were surprised when they loaded it up again and the audio of both the preloader intro movies and the main menu music was still enabled.  They had just assumed that since they had muted the game audio the last time they had played that it would have remembered!

Well I had never really thought of this feature before but it was quite easy to implement and has been really awesome. You can use a Shared Object in Flash to track any changes to the audio controls.  You might be using one already to record local highscore data and you can just record your audio settings to this object.  Then when your game loads you can check the Shared Object to see what the audio settings were (if any) the last time they played. If there isn’t any data then you can just enable it as as default. This allows you to mute the preloader intro movies and menu music when they return if they had disabled it in a previous gameplay session!

Got any other good audio related tips? Share them below in the comments!

Have Banjo Will Travel

Art Life Music

I recently got my banjo repaired and have been playing it again.  I had taken a break of about 8 months from playing it though and it is interesting how much music has sort of queued up in me that is now trying to escape.  I’m back to playing with a bunch of regular folks around my area which has been fun as well as learning a whole bunch of new tunes. I play claw hammer style banjo primarily because I love the kinetic feel, control, and tempo you can achieve.

Continuing with my recent drawing streak I decided to pay tribute to my love of banjo by setting up a nice still life in my family room with my banjo and case.  I drew for two hours and captured a screenshot automatically every 5 seconds to create a time lapse video.  The music playing with the video is an old classic piece called Arkansas Traveler. Enjoy!