Sunil's Blog

I make games! Mostly weird ones.

Category: personal

Inner Vision conversation, stats

I recently responded to an e-mail. It was someone asking about Inner Vision, asking for some data and my motivations behind it. So, I thought I’d just share our conversation (I’m also too lazy to actually write a blog post about this, heh):

Message 1:

Hello Sunil,My name is [].

I am currently working on my PhD in Clinical Psychology and my research focus is in suicide prevention. Someone forwarded me your game Inner Vision some time ago and I’ve wanted to talk with you about it since.I think that the game was a fascinating experience. I wondered immediately if you had a background in psychology or were familiar with suicide prevention research, since the game is so evocative of what the science represents.

Also, I would love to know if you have any data about the game (e.g. how many people were “saved”, how many times the game has been played, how many people have seen the game, etc.). That my be wishful thinking, but I would love to see some data on the game.

If you wouldn’t mind talking about the game a little more in depth I’d love to talk to you about it. What motivated you to make this game? Why this presentation? Why suicide as your subject matter? I have a ton of questions.

But overall, I did enjoy the experience. I’ve forwarded it on to many of my colleagues.

As a final thought. I felt the music for the game was outstanding. I don’t know if you had an outside composer or if you did it yourself, but kudos. It was the perfect complement.

[]

Message 2:

Hello [],

Thank you for taking the time to play my game, I really appreciate it. Now to answer some of your questions:

I actually have no background in psychology. I’m currently a junior undergraduate student going for a computer science bachelor’s degree. Some of the characters and conversations found in the game are based on real life situations I found myself in while having intimate conversations with friends. I wanted to share my experiences and feelings on suicide, so I decided to go to my favorite artistic medium: video games.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really implement any data tracking into the game. The only data I received were from the e-mails/messages I got from people who were really moved by the game. Here are some things that I’ve collected:

– People had the most difficulty with the last character, Oscar, who was homeless and suffered from drug addiction.
– People felt very sympathetic towards the first character, Miranda, who was struggling with her bisexuality (Interesting note: This character was 100% based on a real friend of mine)
– People universally hated Yama, the skeleton that heckles the player throughout the game.
– Everyone that I’ve gotten messages from stated that they beat the game and thought it was relatively easy/simple

I made the game at a very interesting point in my life. I was severely suffering from depression without really knowing the cause, and I needed an outlet to share some of my dark/morbid thoughts that had been circulating in my mind. Then the idea of making a video game out of my feelings came to my mind. I started to ask questions: Can I make a game that touches on serious/dark subject matter while still retaining a positive message? Do I even have the skills to do this? At the time I was very new to game development. I heard of a few success stories online, and just thought, hell, why can’t I make something too. So, I stared developing Inner Vision mostly to express the strong emotions I’ve held, and to prove to myself that I can make a game that derives from the norms and tropes of mainstream video games.

After spending a few months on it, spending all the spare time between going to classes, I finished the game. I posted it to Reddit hoping that some people might think it was neat/touching. Lo and behold, it kind of exploded. It got ranked number 1 on Reddit, video game outlets started writing articles about my game (Kotaku, RockPaperShotgun, etc.), and I started to receive e-mails. Since then, I’ve been working on another project that hopefully will delve into more topics that video games don’t really explore.

I hope this helped, and again thanks for liking my game. I would be happy to discuss the actual design of the game further if you’re interested.

Oh, and the music was not created by me. It was created by a very talented Cellist known as ‘Takenobu’.
The song is called ‘Exposition’ on Takenobu’s album called ‘Introduction’

From,
Sunil

Unity

I’ve been teaching myself Unity and it’s been going pretty well so far. You can find the web version of the demo I made here.

I wonder what I can make with this awesome engine… Bye bye flash.

Figured out

It seemed like I was quite confused at the time when I wrote my last post, which was not long ago. The main reason I was struggling is because I had too many little game prototypes that didn’t amount to anything (or at least I thought). One of the main rules I haven’t been following is that I have to create games. Period. The only way to really, truly get better at game dev is to simply make games and learn from the process.

So, I have these 5 mini games just sitting here, and what I have decided to do is just make really small games based on these prototypes. I don’t care if it’s bad, or poorly designed. I’m going to make them so I can get better as a developer, regardless of the game. I got this from looking at cactusquid’s page and his huge catalog of games. Here is his page.

Lost in development

One month has passed since my break has started and the only emotions running through me at the moment are confusion, frustration, and regret. I’ve been working on this game for the past 3-4 weeks and I’m having second doubts on the whole thing. Instead of building a single system and game mechanic that I can expand upon, I made 5. I tried making a game where the narrative would be presented through the gameplay, and because of this, I made 5 mini-games that contain a very loose story which I don’t think anyone will understand but me.

I’m conflicted whether to scrap this whole game (or 5 mini games rather) and just start fresh, or keep working on something I don’t feel comfortable with. I really don’t want to waste all the work I’ve put in the past few weeks. It’s strikingly apparent at how new and inexperienced I am at game development just by looking at my progress. This will be the second game prototype I’m scrapping in the past few months, and it just feels really discouraging.

To add to that, I even contacted a few artists who would want to help out, but I feel so bad about the game that I don’t even want to show them. The game doesn’t have a solid foundation, consequently becoming a mishmash of subpar mini games.

After writing this post, I’ve come to the decision of just completing the prototype with the original idea/story behind it, and just leave it at that. I’ll keep the programmer art and just try to move on. Overall, this is the 4th game prototype I’ve shelved. I really hope I get better at this.

This is my blog

This is a place where I can lay everything I have out on the table. The problem is that I feel as if I’m not using my blog to it’s fullest potential. Starting soon, I’m going to upload not just my games, but any artistic work that I create. This includes my poetry, short stories, music, etc. I got inspired after reading one of my favorite indie game dev/artist’s blog: http://aliendovecote.com. She goes by the name of “Porpentine”, and I highly recommend checking out her writing and work, they are very unique and inspiring.

More to come soon.

Gonzo

I read a Che Guevara manga biography a few nights ago. I always had a general idea of what he’s done (i.e. Cuban Revolution), but was unaware of his other feats and the general specifics of his personality. The manga did a great job of encapsulating the emotions that Che felt through each event of his life. I finished the entire manga in one night, and by the end of it I felt really moved.

The next day I started to think about my own life. I’ve been making these small scale games, hoping that my games do something other than serve as game “candy”. I’ve been working on my second game for the past month, and I have made quite a bit of progress. My only fear being that it won’t be nearly as moving as Inner VIsion. Nonetheless, I’ve been still pushing on, getting closer to the end of it. My only issue with it is that the game isn’t as “political” as I would like it to be. It still evokes important issues, but I’m still hungry for making an experience that sheds light on the shady things that are going on in today’s world. As corny as this sounds, I want to make a game that will truly make a difference.

I then started to think about my third game for the future. Making games is hard, and doing it by yourself is even harder. As I look around the indie game community, I see groups of, at least, 2 people going at it. It’s hard for a programmer such as myself to make art and music for games. Sure, there’s always the exception to the rule. There are phenomenal indie games out there all made by one person, and that’s quite impressive. But for me, I think it’ll be best if I work with some other people.

So with these two driving forces of making a game that can make a difference and wanting a group of people to collaborate with, I decided to start a game development group on campus, codenamed: “Gonzo”. My plan is for this group to meet at least once a week, gather the most important news around the world from that week, and make a little game expressing the ideas behind the selected news. The games won’t be objective, but rather subjective, but at the same time the games will inform the players of what’s going on in the world. In other words, it will be the political comics of video games. Honestly, it seems a bit too ambitious, but I still have to try.

The idea came after I finished up a documentary about, one of my heroes, Hunter Thompson. For the curious, the documentary was called “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”. I highly recommend it, as it shed a new light on him that I never really realized before. His works and writings really exposed America for what it truly is, and that really struck a chord with me. I know it seems silly, but what if video games can reach the came caliber? Why aren’t there any video games about political issues? Sure, there are “simulations”, but it still seems to me that game developers are too scared to take a strong stance and truly say something about what’s going in.

So back to my group, yesterday I made flyers and spread them all around campus. I went to the busiest areas where students meet the most, and taped up the flyers there. So, here I am, waiting if anyone will read my silly flyers and want to make games with me. I’m a bit nervous if anyone will care enough to join me, but I’m still hopeful.

So that’s an update on my life at the moment. For the time being, I plan on working away on my second game while waiting for responses to the Gonzo group. I attached below the flyer that I used. Until next time.

Flyer pdf

2013

Well, looks like it’s finally here. To be honest, I’m usually negative on the whole “new year” thing. The reason being that there’s a new year every year, so what’s so special about it? All that aside, I do look forward to what 2013 brings.

I do plan on changing some aspects of myself this year, and hopefully they’ll stick throughout the years to come. Currently, I have been on my winter break from UIC, and I have got to say, it’s been one of the most productive breaks I’ve had. I have made tremendous progress on my flash game (Inner Vision), which is really inspiring since it shows me where my diligence will lead me.

As well as game development, I also plan on increasing my work ethic when it comes to college course work. So far, I’ve been passing all my classes with little to no hiccups. Sure, I’ve had some trouble in some courses (I’m looking at you Physics), but I always manage to pass them (somehow). However, there’s a problem: I still get Cs. This needs to change. Getting a letter grade of a C shows that I’m just average. This infuriates me like no other, and I hope to focus and put all my effort into my work load this year.

I am also partaking in One Game a Month (http://onegameamonth.com), and I’m really looking forward to it. This winter break was a test to see if I can finish a game I start, but 2013 will be the real test. Game development is a very passionate hobby of mine, and I look forward to making experimental, artistic video games. What can I say, I love art.

Other than video game development and college, I’ve had nothing really to worry about. I do have the side of my brain telling me to find a job and get some cash while I’m on break, or while I’m at the university. This is also the side of my brain I’m not too fond of, since it is an eerie reminder of how much debt I’ll be in after my 4 years of college. To combat this evil side of my brain, I still need to think about what kind of field of work I want to get into. Yes, I’m still undecided. The good thing is is that I know it’s something to do with computer science, so there that huge safety net (or at least that’s what every single old person tells me).

I’ll make a blog post in the future about my career path, as well as the dilemma about pursuing game development as a career, but until then, Happy New Year! May 2013 bring out the best of everyone.

 

Here’s a screenshot of where I’m at with the game:

progress blog

The introduction of the game.

First post

Hello.

This blog. It seems like there’s a website, that’s just about me. Guys, we messed up.

Jokes aside, I’m excited to have a blog. I’ve had a tumblr for a while now, and my main goal was to use it as a blog to post my findings on game development, and post about the current projects I’ve been working on. Well, it didn’t work out that way. It turned into a social gathering full of people who have common interests, and a majority of them post pictures of things they like.

This will be different. I hope to post some things about the game soon. Until then, so long.

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