Tag Archives: dev

07 Jun

Game Dev Tips: Showcasing Your Indie Game in A Non-English Speaking Country.

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We recently showcased our game Asura at BitSummit held in Kyoto, Japan. We have also been to Taipei Game Show some time ago. During our visit to these shows, we learned that showcasing a game in an English speaking country is much more different than a country like Japan where English is not a common language. There is a certain prep work required so that you can have a successful show. For the same purpose, we would like to share some tips on how to showcase your game in a non-English speaking country.

1.) Electricals and Power Supply: Research on the kind of electrical specs that the country you will be showcasing demands. Japan has its variation of power specification and electrical outlets similar to that of the US, and if you are from a country like India, you will need to be prepared. Do not expect the organizers to provide you with them. Your best bet would be to get some convertible plugs and additional power strips. However, there are certain events wherein you will have to purchase the power for your booth. If such is the case then make sure you communicate with the organizers a month or so before the event. We had a  friend in a neighboring booth who had to shell out 200$ during the show as he forgot to purchase the power before hand.

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 2.) Control Card: We forgot to make the Control Card for Asura during Bit Summit but you should not. Control card is nothing but a little banner or piece of cardboard which will feature instructions on how to play your game, key configuration, etc in the localized language. Control Card will save you a ton of energy while showcasing if you can’t speak the local language. It will also help visitors at your booth to understand the game much better without any hassle.

ControlCard

3.) Localized Banners, Flyers and Giveaways: This is obvious! Grab those fantastic banners and flyers you have made for the game and make sure to localize it for the show. We have made some amazing friends all around the world who are kind enough to help us with the localization if they know the language. You can do the same!

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4.) Controller Preference: Some countries like Japan prefer Playstation controllers whereas the western folks are much more comfortable with an Xbox variant. Please do your research according to the place you will be showcasing. If you can, bring both the controllers then you can let the players choose according to their preference.

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 5.) Culture and Language:  Try to learn a bit about the culture and etiquettes of the country you will be visiting. Chances are that some mannerisms which are OK in your country might be offensive or rude in the one you are planning to visit. Also, try to learn a couple of common greetings or words like ‘Thank you’, ‘Sorry’, ‘goodbye’ etc. You might feel awkward to communicate in a new language at first, but folks will love you for making the attempt. The point is to make everyone feel comfortable and language is a great weapon which you can use to your advantage.

6.) Summon your local friends: If you have any local acquaintance in the city where you are planning to showcase, invite him or her to the show. Your friend can help you translate and showcase the game much better due to his/her fluency in the local language. Usually, the organizers will offer a couple of extra passes. If you don’t have additional passes, e-mail the fellow devs who will be showcasing along with you and ask if they would have any extra passes. Make sure to treat them with a lunch or dinner if they hook you with an extra one :)

7.) Localized Game Demo: This is a tough one but try to localize the demo which you will be showcasing at the event. If your game is light on text then it should be doable. Trust me! The time invested for the localization will be worth it at the show. This tip does not count if your game is already localized.

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We hope that the above points help you to maximize the success of your upcoming events. Please do note that the tips can also be applied for any showcase in general. Best of luck for your game and thank you for dropping by.

BE EPIC!

17 Oct

Showcasing your game at a conference!

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Hi,

Since Nasscom Game Developer Conference 2016 is around the corner, we figured that many of you developers might be preparing to showcase your game at the convention. Folks have been mailing us with various doubts and queries with regards to showcasing and it’s pro’s and con’s. Although we have shared our experience and the whole nine yards about PAX as well as Megabooth, I thought I will share a general info regarding showcasing a game at any conference. Game conferences are awesome as it help you connect with other talented folks as well as spread the word of your game. So let’s look at some of the  points regarding demoing your completed or work in progress game at such events.

tobeornottobe Many people have asked me in the past, whether such conferences are ever useful with context to ROI ( Return of investment). To be honest, we do not have any experience with release yet and we have no clue how it will reflect the sales however, I would always advice that you be present at as many conferences as possible. We as developers are 90% of the time hunkered down in our hovel working hard on that game. Venturing out and meeting other devs and industry folks is as important as making your game. If your goal is to not just make one game but form a studio which will produce amazing games then you need to start building your brand. People should know what you stand for and why you make games. Hence, if you have means to go to a convention, then just GO!

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tablespace This is another questions which is asked a lot! Should I get a table space or booth space. For us, table spaces has always worked because we have been showing Asura (one game) at every gig for which a table or a kiosk works. Then for whom is the booth for? I reckon if you are publisher or if you have studio which has been working on 2 or more games, then a booth would be a wise choice. Also, if you are service based company, booth can add that extra professional touch with a table and chair for meetings and also tons of artwork and your marketing services all around the booth. TL:DR: Indie game/ One game = table space , Service based company/Publishers = Booth. ( if free, then always opt for booth, because they are cooler #fistbump )

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preparing So let’s hope that you as a developer have made up your mind to showcase your game. The next goal should be to prepare for the same. As I mentioned above, we have been showcasing Asura at various conferences including NGDC, PAX, EGX etc. While showcasing your game is the highlight of the event, you should also produce some good quality physical prints like flyers, posters etc for your table space or booth respectively. This will vary depending on who you are, an Indie development studio or an established game development company. If you an Indie like us and showcasing your upcoming game, It is recommended that you produce flyers and posters respectively along with visiting cards. Flyers are the most important of them all as it will or should contain all the important details like website links, screenshots, some exciting features etc of your game. It also helps if you make the flyers in such a fashion that people can also use it as a poster. I have attached our flyers as an example. Below I have also attached the template for flyer which you can download to create your own!
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flyertemplate
showcasing It’s kind of scary notion for most of us game makers to showcase our game. You have been working on your product and you know that it is not ready but you are showing it off anyways, which kind of makes us all nervous with bugs and glitches looming around. In order to minimize goof-ups and maximize your showcase experience it is better to follow the below guidelines.
 
1.) Demo duration:  If you have a game which is a single player adventure, narrative experiences, it is always better to take some time off and tailor it for the show. What I mean by this is that you cut your game in such a manner that it showcases key game-play features and story points and offers a good understanding of the USP in a limited duration. Maybe at the end of the game, you can insert a ‘to be continue’ stylized splash screen or ‘coming soon’ page to enhance the effect. You can super creative and forge a cool demo and this  does not only create a concise and very good experience but everyone standing in the line gets to play your game.

2.) Elevator Pitch: You should be able to pitch your game in one sentence. I know this has become a norm but trust me, it takes a long time to craft a very good pitch for your game. Here is an example of how I pitch Asura with a simple formula:

A very curious gamer and defender of Azeroth: Hey what is your game all about?

Me > Asura is a hack ‘n’ slash roguelike with randomly generated skill tree and is inspired by Indian mythology!
 
In a single sentence and with clear and concise words, I have tried to put across the genre of the game, the sub-genre and the core feature. When you turn it into a forumla it looks something like this

Name of your game + Genre + Sub-genre + Core feature + Inspiration = The pitch of awesomeness. (#ijustmadethisupnow)

I am sure that a pitch can be craft almost for any games using the above technique. You can bend the rules according to your game but the technique remains the same.

3.) Your presence: I have seen many times that there is this amazing table with an amazing game with no one is around to man it. I would suggest you avoid doing this no matter how dire the situation is. Your game represents you as the developer and someone from the team should always be present showcasing it. This is exactly why you should have at least have two people from your team at any showcase so that you can take turns looking around the gig and showcase the game. We don’t have the luxury to do this usually when the show is abroad but when it is a domestic gig then we make sure that me and Neeraj are both attending it. No matter how shy you are about public speaking etc, one of the team members should be the one showcasing the game. It really shows your passion for your craft and awesomeness. The attendees who will come to your space may have tons of questions or would be curious and no one can do justice to the answers if not you. It also casts a good impression if there is any press around and if they would like to know more about the game. My advice is that until and unless you are Jonathan Blow who is trying to experiment with their game, please be at your booth to showcase it!

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4.) Tech and additional support: While at the gig, you might have a hard time managing the various contacts that you make. Sometimes, people wont have visiting cards and you might have just have to note down their contact details. You might have also received tons of feedback for your game which ofcourse is very difficult to remeber later if it not saved somewhere. For this purpose, it is always great to have a iPad or a tablet with google docs. You can make a feedback form or beta form for your game which you can ask the folks who are coming to your booth fill up. You can even create a feedback form which you can share with the attendees after checking out your game. This really helps you organize important documents properly without much hassle with really important “data and analytics”. Only concern is the internet connection so it may be best to create a native form in spreadsheet so that you can work offline. Do not, i REPEAT, do not rely on the internet for any shows! They usually wont be up to your expectation. If the spreadsheet is too much, at least carry a notebook so that you can just note it down. Also, please remember to get along a copy of Winrar setup, Xbox controller and other essential drivers as you might have a rough time downloading due to many reasons including low speed internet, no availability of internet, etc. Get your own hardware like joystick, keyboard, mouse etc even if the show will be providing it!
 

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You might have ended up with tons of visiting cards and contacts from the show. After you head back your crib, office and a goodnight sleep, It’s the time for the follow up mails. Take out those visiting cards and contacts and make sure you craft a nice email regarding the show and your experience or whatever you would like to discuss further. Make sure to send it to all of them who have taken time to play your game or just visit you so that you can show your gratitude and awesomeness. Share your updates and how you are taking your game forward.

That is pretty much what i have regarding game expos for us indie game developers. Funny that I am writing on the floor of IGX as folks from the expo are building our space for showcase. It’s going to start in another hour or so to be exact, SUPER EXCITED :)

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Hope you enjoyed the read and as always if you have specific queries or questions feel free to share it with us. Best of luck for your preparation and for your game, and hope to see you all in future game expos as well as NGDC 2016!

Be Epic!

04 Oct

Using Optimized Texture Atlas for Particle System in Unity!

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The tutorial will be much more helpful if you already have a basic understanding of the Shuriken particle system / Native particle system of unity and is directed towards Intermediate unity users.

The particle effects in your game which adds a lot of polish can also increase the Draw calls resulting in spike or decrease in FPS. This usually occurs when you have multiple elements of same effects  visible in the gameplay camera.

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As an example, I made a spark particle effect for this tutorial. The particle was created using 5 particle elements and when used, it costs 4 draw calls. Now If I duplicate it multiple  times and simulate it all together in the game camera, it will cost 14 draw calls as shown below. This can be a huge problem and can impact the performance of your game especially when you have a ton of effects later in the development.

unoptimized

In order to curb this issue, we can always optimize the particles to help make sure that it is as efficient as possible. There are many guidelines on optimizing the particles and we recently started using Atlas for our textures in effects. This is a standard technique used in the game industry however while researching on this subject, we never found a good tutorial or concise document explaining the method and hence we thought why not share our technique!

I have used 4 different textures to make the below effect. It consists of a glow effect, sparkle effect, radial effect and a variant of sparkle effect. For the sparks flying, I just used stretched billboard with the glow texture. There are 5 elements used in order to create the particle but 4 materials hence when simulating it, it takes 4 draw calls!

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In order to use this technique, we need to create an atlas and for the same purpose, we can use any photo editing software. Since each of our textures are 128 x 128 resolution, we can compile all the 4 textures into 256×256 as shown below!

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Once done with atlas we can go ahead and import it to unity and prepare the material. We will use Additive shader for this particular effect.

If you replace your particle effect with the atlas material, it will not look as intended. This is because you  need to point out the correct texture to each element of your particle system.

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We can select the correct texture in the atlas by using the texture sheet animation tab.

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The texture tab in default setting looks like above. we need to change it according to our needs. We have 2 rows in our textures with 2 frames each in X and Y coordinates. We need to input the required coordinates, change the animation tab to Single sheet and turn off Random row. Then besides the Frame Of Time graph, you will see a drop down menu. Select the Constant option from the list.

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After making the above said changes,  the texture sheet should look like something as below.

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There are two options now available to us, Rows and Frames Over Time. Below I will explain what each does!

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Rows:This is the value which denotes which row you would like to select in your sheet. Every horizontal break in your texture sheet will be called as Row. They ascend from the top of the page to the bottom. rows

Frames over life a.k.a Frames: Frames are the respective image in your atlas. Since atlas is a compilation of all the textures, the frame number can be used to identify and select the desired texture from your sheet. Refer the image to understand how frame numbers are divided.

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After understanding the rows and frame settings, now we can select the desired texture from the sheet. Let’s have a look at our atlas below. If we want to pick a glow texture, then we would need to add Row:1 and Frame: 1. Using this mapping technique we can now start optimizing our entire particle system by selecting each element and replacing it with the corresponding texture in the atlas.

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I went ahead and optimized all of the elements in the particle effects with the atlas texture and now we can see that the draw call has reduced to 1! No matter how many duplicates or instances I make of the same particle, the draw call is always 1. SUPER OPTIMIZED!

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Using the atlas can a very powerful method when using with particle effects in your game. It can help maintain an optimal draw call and boost its performance. Making use of this technique can be very useful especially for mobile games where draw calls are a bane and can drastically impact the fps of your game.

Hope the tutorial helped you in understanding how to use Texture Atlas for your particle effects and may nothing stop you from creating that epic effects for your awesome game! :)

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If you have any queries or if you were confused at any point when following the above process, please do let us know via the comments or email.

Cheers!

For any queries please contact zain@ogrehead.com or support @ogrehead.com| Get Presskit here: http://ogrehead.com/press