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Game Development Update 001

Mark Marianelli

I haven't posted much in the last week or so, but that's not to say I haven't been busy.

Basically there's this game that I've been wanting to make for the greater part of 10 years now. I'm very blessed to have grown up in this age of technology, everything you need is right at your finger tips - Still  though, if I had just been about 5 years younger, I may have accomplished this stupid game while I was still in my prime - Not that 30 isn't ridiculously young in the grand scheme of things, but 25 would have been nicer.

Growing up with video games, it was always my dream to actually make one. When you're little you think you can draw, and so you start drawing out your dream games. You create characters, story lines, gameplay rules, backgrounds… And then you just sit and wait for a video game creator to get stranded in your town, stop at your house for directions, notice your video game ideas lying around the house and pay you a billion dollars for the rights. Then you get a little bit older and realize your drawings were crap, but NOW they're good enough to catch a gaming company's eye. Heck, you even took a few Visual Basic classes in Middle School, so you've got the skills! Then college comes and yet again, you realize your art was crap, your ideas were crap and your development skills were crap. So it's back to the drawing board. After a year or two you develop some skills. You can illustrate better, you know a little bit of Actionscript and you've gotten pretty good at creating animations in Flash.

BUT STILL, not good enough! And guess what, now that you've wasted 4 years learning Actionscript 2.0, it's been replaced with Actionscript 3.0 and you've got to relearn all of your skills. Okay, few years later, you've learned AS3, you're a crazy good illustrator, you've got animation down like nobody's business and you're ready to rock the video gaming community with your awesome concept…

Then mobile comes along. Flash is irrelevant. You're irrelevant.

Suffice to say, I've put a lot of time into this game - and 90% of it was starting from scratch. Truth be told, it's nothing all that original. You'd think in all the years I've put into it, I would have come up with something a little more unique, but I've spent all that time just catching up to technology. Well I'm fed up. I'm making this stupid game if it kills me. I don't care what's outdated, I'm building it in Flash and I'm going to finish it for the sake of finishing it. It may suck, it may be the most unplayable piece of garbage ever developed, but I just don't care anymore. In the past year I've finished two major projects (onetwo) that have been itching at me for years, I'm determined to go for the hat trick and even if it sucks, I can at least say I finished it.

So here's my plan. Every day from now until it's finished, I'm going to finish SOMETHING for the game. Whether it's an animation, a piece of code, a menu item - doesn't matter. And I'm starting from scratch. I think I've damned myself a little in that I'm constantly trying to re-use stuff I've created, and I end up spending more time tweaking it to work with the new stuff that I get burned out and nothing gets accomplished… Then a year later I'm writing a post like this. I'll be using my old material only as a reference.

I began work last week and already the progress is mind-boggling. I came out of this weekend feeling satisfied for once (creatively). It's not perfect, it never will be. I'm not a developer. I'm an illustrator. I can't even say I'm a jack of all trades, master of none… I'm just a master of none. No jacks. If you haven't noticed, I'm setting the bar REALLY low. My end game is to have a functional app in the store, but for now, I'm focusing on making a playable Flash game - Sorry Mobile users. I can't get sidetracked on mobile functionality, I need to just stick to what I know for now and if it happens to turn out well, I'll consider the mobile aspect. But this isn't for the consumer market, it's for me. I'm all about personal victories now because at this stage in life, it's all I have time for now.

I'm rambling as usual - Here's a brief rundown of where I'm at:

1.) Three Character Designs - I'm going pixel on this one. I had to go as far away from the old attempts as possible if I was going to start fresh. After the fun I had creating Pro Rock Paper Scissors, this was just the logical approach for me. I was at one point going to design all of the characters, but after the third I decided I only technically needed two to begin developing the game and didn't want to run the risk of burning myself out during the design process.

Oh, and by design, I don't just mean concept work, I mean animating each movement (e.g. attacks, jumps, stances, etc…) for that individual character.

2.) One Background Design - Boom.

3.) Keyboard Input - The player can move around, jump, duck, block, attack, you name it.

4.) Movement - The jumping was probably the most difficult to figure out, the player also is bound within the flash window, which was also difficult to figure out.

4.) Interaction w/ CPU - The fighters won't move through each other and will always be facing each other - SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH tweaking to get that to work.

I've begun fleshing out the AI mechanics - This was the major aspect of creating an old school fighter that kept holding me back from coding this game earlier, it's a lot of thinking through every possible scenario and determining an appropriate response from the computer depending on what difficulty is being used. As of now, my logic is creating three functions that the computer runs through at any given time:

- Defense - When the player is performing some kind of attack, what is the computer's response? Block? Stand there and take it like a man? Run away?

- Countering - Based on the player's ability to connect an attack, if the attack fails (whether by blocking or fleeing), what is the computer's counter response? Does it remain running away? Does it quickly retaliate with it's own attack? Does it brace itself for the player's followup attack?

- Offense - How aggressive is the computer going to be with its own attacks? Will it be cautious? Will it jump in arms swinging? Will it rely mostly on counter-attacks? Does it just rope-a-dope and die?

What the computer chooses to do will be a matter of probabilities determined by the difficulty I'm going with. I should remind you, I'm an amateur at this coding business, so I'm sure there's better ways of approaching this. I have to rely on my current AS3 knowledge (which isn't much).

In any case, that's where I'm at! The following is a video showing off what I've accomplished to-date:

I doubt anybody is all that interested in all of this, but I'm providing the blog updates mainly for my own sanity. Keeps things in perspective and it doesn't hurt to keep content flowing on the site.

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     trace("~ M.");