Category Archives: Jack Le Hamster

The making of Dobuki’s Epic Journey

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I finally finished building this damn game.

Why am I cursing this game? Because it’s a DAMN GAME! It took me so incredibly long to finish it, several years actually. When you look at the game, it really doesn’t look like much, but underneath the surface, this game is filled with time consuming things.

At the end though, I’m glad I finished this game. I think my former self who got someone excited about starting this project would be happy to know that his later self actually finished it, even though the later self doesn’t thing much of the game. Hey former self, I hope you’re happy, you made me waste so much time on this silly project!

The beginning

This game grew out of my deep desire to produce a game that mimics some of my most beloved game genre: adventure and RPG. In particular, I would name games like Monkey Island and Phantasy Star as the main inspiration for starting this project. Previously, I have never made a game with a real storyline, so this was a first.

The story starts with Dobuki, and he lives in the countryside. Presumably, he just moved there. We don’t know anything really about Dobuki, but we know he has a bunch of friends, and there’s an old man on the hill who mentors him. As the story progresses, Dobuki explores his world and even goes on other planets.

I actually didn’t write a story, and I didn’t really have the mindset of writing one. The idea was just: Let’s create a world, in space, with weird creatures. Let’s create this wonderful world and just add any random idea I have as I go along.

This went well in the beginning. I wasn’t really sure where it was going to go, but the game grew somehow pretty big in my imagination. It was my escape at that time, and it wasn’t even done yet!

So yeah, there was no planning, no thinking ahead, just random things added on the spur of the moment.

Developing the world

I was pretty excited about creating a world. It didn’t have to have a great story, but as long as it was as weird as outlandish as possible, I was happy. I looked for some nice music for it, and that also affected how the world develop.

Now the idea became a bit more developed, but the code wasn’t very well thought out. It worked at that time, but it wasn’t meant to scale. I programmed the game the same way I was adding content: Adding random things as I thought about them.

For instance, I suddenly decided to add 3d crawling caves, so I made that. Then I thought about space travel, and just added that. This felt like the right approach, but soon it was getting more and more difficult to add things.

First of all, the compilation time grew as more things were added. Second, it became more and more difficult to look for the elements I wanted, as the number of scenes became 20, then 30, then 40…!

I was adding stuff to expand the world, but it didn’t seem that meaningful to me. Then for some reason, I decided to add some character development. I added a love interest for the main hero.

Growing in Complexity

I started to understand the idea of feature creep, and the addition of a new protagonist made it very clear. Suddenly, I couldn’t add random things anymore, because every new elements raised new questions in respect to the characters in the game.

I imagined stories around the character but at that point, adding even simple interactions became really painful.

It was pretty clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to finish this game. The game itself actually seemed to become rather silly to me, and I wondered if it would sound ridiculous to know I spent so much time building something that turns out to have so little production value.

But time passed, and I still thought about the game. I decided it needed closure, and unfortunately, you can’t just finish a game like this so easily. I had a lot of negative space to close. In an adventure game, if a player makes effort to get a particular item, then that item must be useful for something in the game.

At that point, the process of finishing the game was to list out all the item that I’ve randomly given to the player, and come up with some use for it, like a character that wanted it or some other random thing.

The Conclusion

Eventually, I had enough content to finally close the game, with a very half-ass closure. But hey, at least I had something I was satisfied to let out into the world.

From this project, there’s a few things I learned:
– For a project that’s story based, one of the most important thing is to make it easy to add content. It seems easy at the beginning, but as the project grows, it becomes hard to search into the project, thus coming up with an easy way to add content is critical.
– If I want to make a game for mobile, I should test out performance right from the beginning. I had an idea that I could port the game to mobile easily using AIR, but it turns out the performance was atrocious. I knew how that could be fixed, but the work required to fix this was multiplied by the size of the project. This is something I should have thought ahead of time if this was to be a mobile game.
– Don’t get too attached to a story. I was stuck for a long time because I had this idea in mind of a story, and tried to make it happen. Yet, I never progressed because steps towards that story were increasingly difficult, requiring extra coding. I ended up giving up that story idea, and incrementally building up things until the end. That seemed to work better.
– Big projects are for when you’re ready! I think it’s fine to dream big, but at this point I should still make sure the projects I start can be finished within a couple months. Being stuck on a big project can be discouraging. Until I can come up with a project that is so compelling and so easy to increment that it can write itself, I still have a lot of game development practices to learn.

At the end, I’m glad I finished the project. This calls for a celebration, mostly because I got unstuck from working on that game, rather that the completion of the game itself. Of course, I could have just given up on that project, but I think finishing it with the half-ass ending I gave it was enough to make me feel good about it.

Perhaps I’m being a bit too critical. Hopefully people will like some aspects of the game. It has some dark humor in it, some hard puzzles that requires the player to think outside of the box, and some interesting characters. Please check it out on one of those sites:

Gamejolt: http://gamejolt.com/games/dobuki-epic-journey/118967
Newgrounds: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/668833
Itch.io: http://jacklehamster.itch.io/dobukis-epic-journey

Back to blogging, less about controversial stuff and more about games!

Alright, I’m back to do some blogging. I don’t really have time to be a regular blogger though, and by that I mean that I can blog, but it’s hard for me to constantly come back every day or week. I’ve always been like this, a bit inconsistent. I like to do all my blogging at once, and there’s a lot of game related blogging that needs to be done. When was the last time I blogged about a game… let me check….

Geez… I haven’t blogged since Slimilization! I’m so far behind! It’s like that #the100daysproject that I’m doing (under a different name). I’m supposed to make 1 drawing a day for 100 days. I’m behind on that one too, so I’ve been doing very crappy drawings (By that I meant that it went from crappy to very crappy).

Ok, I’ll be writing one blog about some articles I published, then about some games… then why am I wasting time writing about what I’m going to write about? Let’s get writing already!

#GamerGate and other popular controversial hashtags

I wanted to talk about the recent popular controversial hashtags that I have avoided to talk about, and how it has affected me lately. You notice that I included as many trendy hashtags in the tags section just to catch readers’ attention, so this promises to be interesting.

While I’ve tying been active on the gamer community of the Internet, there are news, controversies, popular trends and hashtags that breezed through my brain, mostly by accident. There are moments when I stare at the computer or phone, and contemplate my boredom, tying to fill it with anything trivial. Mostly it is during time when I’m supposed to sleep but fails to oblige. Among the few places to fill my brain is the game developer community. I find content on YouTube, Twitter, and wherever it leads me. There is still not enough interesting content to grip my attention. Eventually, I derail and bump into the trending topics. Since I follow the gaming community closely, the trending controversy to hit me is #GamerGate.

My first reaction to the word #GamerGate? Well it kinda sounds like #BillGates, but I doubt it would have anything to do with him. I remember a while ago there was a problem with the iPhone’s antennae, which caused Apple to apologize to its customers and offer a freebie. Can’t remember if Steve Jobs was around at that time but I can hardly imagine Steve Jobs apologizing for anything. That made the word #AntennaeGate popular, so by analogy I thought #GamerGate means the gamer community is broken. Not sure if associating the hashtag means I side with gamers or against gamers, but actually I didn’t really care.

Then the term #GamerGate keeps re-popping during my lazy internet exploration. I was watching BlizzCon, cause I really love Starcraft, and Blizzard’s CEO Mike Morhaime starts talking about recent harassment issues and other crap that seems to lead to #GamerGate. Later, there seems to be this trendy feminist YouTuber called Anita Sarkeesian who seems to be getting a lot of popularity and a lot of hate. So is that what all the fuss is about?

Later, I was exposed to more details about #GamerGate, like a consumer getting exposed to subliminal advertising. Apparently, the big fuss is there’s a war that stated when a game reviewer was having sex with a game developer, and that made the reviewer biased, and for some reason people really don’t like that. I still had a hard time giving a fuck, but I can’t help, out of morbid curiosity, to dig out the dirt out of this story. So far, I heard that people got bullied, which is bad… so bullied that they had to close their Twitter account. Hum.. ok…. I heard there were death treats, yeah that’s pretty serious. So this is what people are waging war against on the Internet, that’s what they spend their energy fighting for. I saw a lot of recurring comments about Anita cherry picking moments in video games to prove her point gender inequality. Yeah, that’s bad, she shouldn’t do that. Oh but that actually helped her gain popularity. So I guess it was smart for her to do that. Yah, but it does not reflect the truth about the gamer community. Ok… can’t we just end the debate at “She’s half right” and be done with it? It seems like a lot of gamers get really worked up over this. It made me question myself. Am I really insensitive and unwilling to defend the gamer community by not giving a fuck? Actually, I don’t really have that much ammo to criticize her because I think she’s half right that the video game industry is a bit macho, and yes I didn’t have to watch her videos to say that. And as silly as it sounds, I am wasting my time writing this article just to show how much I don’t care. It seems silly to me that an issue like this would escalate to death treats. I hope nobody died from #GamerGate, I didn’t really follow you know.

There’s more about feminism. So I watched a video from another feminist, Rebecca Watson. And I got on her channel simply because of a video she made on 5 tips to beat Civilization V. I have to admit feminism is a turn off for me, but it doesn’t really induce hate. So not sure why, that silly video about Civ V made me subscribe to her channel, then I get all those vide about feminism. I don’t really buy it. For me it’s kinda crap, but it’s like a cheap burger, not satisfying but it’s enough to fill my boredom. But then I encounter the video of people attacking her. For some reason, a feminist talking shit doesn’t really bother me, but men attacking her for talking shit kinda does. Isn’t it a big sign of insecurity when a man go all their way to attack a woman, when her message is not even directly addressed to them? A lot of people (I assume most of them men) seem to defend the image of their community as if they’re fighting for freedom or something. That did made me wonder if I’m not the jerk here. By not caring, not taking sides in those controversial issues, does it make me bad in some way? And if it does, should I really care?

I think I do care to some extent about my online persona, because I do publish games online, and an attack on me would kinda suck and probably affect negatively what I want to achieve. On the other hand, I don’t really give a fuck that much. Jack Le Hamster is not my real name ;-P. But now, I find the irresistible urge to voice my opinion, despite that doing it shows I do give a fuck and completely invalidates my points.

So at first, it’s true I didn’t really care for all this controversies. I was just letting it pass on my little cloud. I’m sure most of us would not care about this at all in 1 or 2 years, but perhaps there’s a little bit of my thoughts I could share through this story. When I grew up, I used to think the important things in the world to care about are the hungry children in developing countries. We’re talking about children dying here. It’s a serious problem, which have gone by for so long that I now feel desensitized by it. Sadly, it’s almost becoming a fad, it’s so 90’s. But humans still need that sense of purpose in their life, this idea that they have to fight for a cause. When this whole controversy came out, a lot of heated arguments on social media took place, yet for me, it seems so trivial to even think about that.

I also think there’s something about wrong for men with publicly attacking women on social medias. While this clearly shows gender inequality in my mind, I really do think that Anita’s claim didn’t have to be taken seriously. It would actually be the best way to be against her, since fueling the controversy increases her popularity. Who knows, maybe it was her plan to get unwanted attention, and anti-feminist felt into her trap. If someone makes a bad comment about you or your community, the best way is really to ignore, or respond in a way that shows you don’t care. What is the worst that can happen if some people believe Anita’s claims? Women characters having more power in video game? Defending against that shows a lot of insecurities about gamers in my opinion. That ruins the image of the gaming community a lot worst than having people believe the gaming industry has gender inequality.

Now for the part that’s gonna get feminist to hate me…

So does it mean I agree with feminists and all their men bashing videos? Well, like I say I’m really turned off by feminists and I consider most of what they say as unimportant. I’m don’t have much love for anybody who attempts to spread message of hate, but I guess we can lend them an ear once in a while, to figure out ways we can less piss off women. Guys, we all know we can’t win fights against women, so why even try. When women argue with men, there’s maybe between 30%-99% bullshit that you can ignore. Trying to argue with that makes you look downright stupid. I think women just want to be heard, they don’t necessarily need a response of some sort. Just knowing that men understood their message is enough I think. For men, showing hints that they got the message is probably enough. We don’t have to be literal about everything women argue about, because remember, there’s a huge chunk of bullshit that needs to be filtered out.

So you’ll notice that there’s even more crap I added in the tags section, more trendy controversial hashtags to discuss about.

Maybe I’ll skip #KimKardashian. I was just screwing around.

So aside from that. There’s another recent controversial hashtags that surface recently. #JeSuisCharlie et #JeSuisPasCharlie.

I have to say, the terrorists attacks on the French cartoonist really didn’t concern me. First of all because I was born in France, but also because I do believe in freedom of expression, and that the cartoonists shouldn’t have been murdered for criticizing a religion through their cartoons. I won’t even claim that I’m brave enough to risk my life by defying a religion and proving my freedom of expression, yet I feel somewhat outraged by some of the perspective that came from this story. Saying that they deserved it or that they saw it coming is the kind of comments that really shouldn’t be made. Other comments that directly attack the religion are not great either, but that’s something unavoidable given the situation.

I didn’t really jump on the bandwagon with the whole #JeSuisCharlie tag. If I had to choose, then yes, I’m on the side #JeSuisCharlie. I actually find the sound of it pretty silly, and I also didn’t feel like falling in this trap of following the popular trend.

So following the popular trend makes me a sheep, yet perhaps ignoring it makes me feel left behind. At the end, I think this is really just a decision I have to make whether or not to leave this historical trace of me on the Internet. By experience, whenever I look at something I wrote five or ten years ago, I always think: “That is soooo stupid!”. But I don’t think I’ve ever regretted.

Well, since I won’t regret anything, let’s just puke every opinion out and let it go. So that #KimKardashian picture from PAPER magazine…. godamn awful!!

The good, the bad and the ugly reasons why I can’t stop making games

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I just watched a documentary about cannibalism. Made me sick to my stomach. Somehow, it made me ponder about my reasons for making games. I came up with three of them.

The good: I love to create exciting and inspiring experiences to share with people. Imaging their delight when discovering a surprising element in my game feels me with joy.

The bad: I really love to make people struggle and pull their hairs trying to beat odds that seem impossible. Imagining them get infuriated spending countless hours trying to solve my stupid puzzle brings me a pleasure that i’m guilty of.

The ugly: with all the ugly crap that I see happening in this world, I feel that I really should spend this fortunate period of my life when ugly crap hasn’t yet reached my life, to create something amazing, which hopefully, will cause a bit less ugly crap to happen in this world.

Back on wordpress

So my plan originally was to move my gamedev blog to Gamejolt’s Fireside. But then I decided, nah.. let’s not do that. I mean I still plan to write gamedev articles for Fireside, but I’m not going to stop writing in my blog. On Fireside, I can’t just ramble on about anything (even if they do let me, I wouldn’t want to do that. ). But on my blog, I can’t just write about whatever the hell I want, so why would I give that up?

So anyway, check out Fireside (http://fireside.gamejolt.com) for some gamedev articles and check out my blog, which you’re already doing right now, for some rambling about anything.

Ce sont tes yeux noirs

There exists those bands, those songs, that hit you right in the heart.

Those songs, you can hear repeatedly over and over, yet it’s never enough.

Before those songs, you did not really understand words like fans, idols.

Before that, you did not believe that music could bring out a tear in the corner in your eye.

There’s this song you find so beautiful, that you can’t even conceive another person listening to this song without loving it

However irrational that sounds.

After all, words in this song don’t make much sense, even for a French.

Translated, it might go like this: “Where do you go, when you go in the street towards nowhere…”

Who on Earth would fall for something like that?

Me. I fell for it

And I can’t conceive someone not falling for it.

I already know, I’ll never be a fan of any band other than Indochine

And I’ll never love any song more than Tes Yeux Noirs.

Indochine - Tes Yeux Noirs (Acoustic)

Indochine – Tes Yeux Noirs (Acoustic)

Julie - Tes Yeux Noirs
Julie – Tes Yeux Noirs

I have decided to write a blog. Reading the blog, you might know Jack Le Hamster a little better, even though you might never know who he really is. This first post is about my favorite song Tes Yeux Noirs, from my favorite band of all time, Indochine. It sets the tone for my blog: yeah, it’s all about me and what I like. Why putting this paragraph at the end? Well, it’s just blah blah blah. I couldn’t possibly begin my first post like that, right? So as you can tell, I’m a big fan of Indochine.

When I first heard the band, I was torn between finding it absolutely amazing, and borderline unbearable to listen to. Really, I think at that age, it was shameful to tell my peers I loved Indochine because it was considered by a lot of people to be so bad. Out of curiosity, I kept digging further into their albums. When I first heard Tes Yeux Noirs, time just stopped. Suddenly, I didn’t want to get out of my bedroom. I just wanted to sit there and listen to more Indochine songs. That’s how it all started.