Discovering My Path Q&A

I asked Discovering My Path (DMP) some questions about Game Development, Rainbow Words and Groupers. This is what he had to say.

Codex: What inspired the name "Discovering My Path"?

DMP: About 6 years ago I had ACL surgery on my left knee.
I was on leave for about a month and during that time I watched the movie Social Network; the one about Facebook.
It really inspired me and I decided to pursue a degree in web development.
During that time, I was tossing different ideas around for a business name. None of them really stood out until I came up with that one.
I can't remember how I came up with it, but when I said it out loud it just made sense and it's something I think a lot of people could relate too.

Codex: What got you interested in game development?

DMP: While getting my degree, I took a logic and algorithms class. It covered very basic programming concepts.
I saw how easy it is to program and I loved it. Programming is like figuring out a puzzle.
You have to get the right pieces in place to get the output you want.
I'm a big fan of puzzles and other similar objects like figuring out how to get the ball out of the box, stuff like that. So I decided to focus on programming rather than web development.

Codex: What is your favorite game of all time?

DMP: This is a tough one...
I really love platformers, so going back, Super Mario and Donkey Kong Country are some of my favorites.
I also love open world games like Zelda, the first couple Resident Evils, The first Jak and Daxter.
I'm one of those nerds that loves the story in a game, so Beyond Good and Evil and The Last of Us are definitely on the list. Last but not least, I loved Shadow of the Colossus and climbing those furry monsters!
It is hard for me to pin point just one game, because I love games for different reasons.
To be honest I haven't played much with the more recent games that have been popular.
i Oh and I can't forget to mention the indie category of course: Braid, Fez, Super Meat Boy, and Super Lumi Live are also some of my favorites.

Codex: What do you enjoy most about these games?

I really like a good story, a challenge (puzzl'ish type challenges) and the open world concept. The first Resident evil pretty much puts it all together.
Having to move around the mansion collecting items, get three gems that go in the one thing that open the door where.
You get one of those 2 items needed to get to another area... In resident evil you may get frustrated, not knowing where to go to progress further, but then when you find it, you are super excited and on your toes.
I guess if I only had the chance to play 1 more game, I would choose the first Resident Evil.

Codex: When I first met you it was through your game, Rainbow Words, what has changed from then till now?

DMP: Rainbow words was a big accomplishment for me.
For the 5 years of programming I never actually finished a project. I would code for a while and hit a block, or life would happen and then I would stop for months.
With Rainbow Words, I decided if I'm ever going to do this I need to finish a project and push through the troubles.
So I did that and have been coding ever since. Marketing has been fun to learn as well.
I love the indie community and interacting with artists, sound engineers and other game developers is a lot of fun.

Codex: 5 years from now in a perfect world where do you expect to be?

DMP: I'm in the military and after 20 years of service I can retire with a pension.
I've been in for 9 years now, so my goal is to be making some side money from game development when I can retire. And hopefully be able to work on my game development full time.
In 5 years I hope to see myself progressing towards that goal.
In a perfect world I would hit it big with a game and be able to retire and do the game dev full time right now!
Realistically, being able to make enough side money from game development to do it full time after I retire is definitely attainable.

Codex: How is progress on groupers coming along?

DMP: Groupers is coming along well, I'm hoping to release around May.
The plan is to release with 30-50 levels, and continually update it with additional content on a regular basis.
During that time I'll be focusing my development on some minimalistic games I can crank out a lot quicker.

Codex: Can you explain some of the mechanics?

DMP: Groupers is a physics-based game, under the hood Spritekit (Apples 2D framework) does a lot of the heavy lifting.
The big draw to the game is the ability to control multiple characters. Also, each character has their own abilities and you can Group them together.
The different abilities will allow me to create a lot of short mini puzzle levels.
In addition, since the control mechanism is not like anything traditionally people have played, I will be able to make some challenging levels.
The Controls center around 1 big jump button. Moving around the map involves jumping with this button.
I take the distance from where the user taps in the button to the center of the button and I use this for the calculating the amount of force applied to the characters jump.
So on the horizontal axis, if the distance is a negative value, the character will jump towards the left.
If it is a positive value, the character will jump towards the right.

Codex: What abilities does each character have??

DMP: Each character has their own personality and abilities:
Blue is the leader of the group.
He Can become a bigger version of himself and in that form he can do various things the others can't do.
He can also turn into his Statue form, where he can block wind and attacks.
BA (Red) is a moody fellow with an attitude.
He can freeze in mid-air, for others to use as a platform, and he can explode to break through "breakable items, or cause damage to enemies.
Green doesn't have a name yet but he is super cool and super smooth.
He can become a smaller version of himself. He also has a duplicate ability, where he can clone himself twice (having 3 copies) of himself for a short period of time.
Orange doesn't have a name yet either but he is the goof of the group.
He can turn into a bouncy platform for the others to use, and he can float for a period of time.

Codex: If you had the resources and could make the game of dreams, what would you make?

DMP: The Dream ... Groupers is the game I have wanted to make for a long time. I have scaled it down a lot.
I wanted to make it a 2D open world game, very story driven, and a lot of puzzles, hidden items and easter eggs to go around.
This would be my goal for the future and for this I would need dedicated graphics, sound, animation and additional programmers.
I would also develop for Pc and consoles to take advantage of additional resources. I have a few other ideas, but you will have to wait and see for those!

Codex: How many people do you work with?

DMP: For game development, I'm running solo. I do have a buddy doing some sound effects for the game.
He is doing the vocalization sound effects for the characters.

Codex: What game engine do you prefer?

DMP: Since I'm developing for iOS I only have experience with Apples 2D framework Spritekit.
I love it, but I plan to switch to Unity this year to take advantage of cross-platform development.

Codex: What makes that engine stand out from others

DMP: Spritekit and Swift are the first game engines I've used... Prior development, I wanted to build my own custom engine, but this is a lot of work. Why do all this work when someone has already done it for you...
Spritekit is a native language, meaning it only applies to Apple devices.
The great news is that it was built specifically for Apple Devices, but you loose the ability to develop for multiple platforms.

Codex: Did you design everything for groupers?

DMP:For the most part I have designed everything. There are a few clipart images I got from a free commercial use clipart site.
Also, I have a buddy doing the vocal sounds for the characters and I will be using mostly free and open source sound effects and music for the game.
The idea is that I'm not making any money from game development yet, so I don't want to invest money into it until then.
Plus, there are tons of free resources out there. You just have to take the time to sift through it.

Codex: What advice would you give an aspiring developer?

DMP: My biggest advice would be to start slow. I started with Groupers, and it is taking a long time to complete because I've been learning as I go.
If I started with a smaller game, I probably would be able to complete multiple projects by this point.
This matters because I have hit phases in Groupers development where I've felt in over my head, and the frustration to being stuck on a problem for days sucks.
If you start small, you will still probably have these issues, but you will complete the project a lot quicker and see the fruit of your labor quicker.
Also, if you are tossing up ideas of which framework to use or what to develop,
my advice is to just pick any one and go. Even if you don't have a game idea yet, follow some YouTube tutorials and just start learning a framework.
The quicker you get going the sooner you will decide if this is for you. If you switch languages or engines later, learning something new is a great learning experience.
Lastly when working on a project, it can be hard to do because you just want to start coding, but spend some time planning and create goals.
The more planning you do the smoother things will go. I'm constantly adjusting a to-do list as well and I move completed tasks to the completed section to show what I've done.
These help motivate me and shows the progress I've made. When getting to the project phase, I highly recommend getting feedback from testers.
You might be making something you think is awesome, but you need to validate this.
Testers will provide some great insights and different perspectives than what you are used to.

Codex: What platform do you prefer to develop for?

DMP: Currently mobile is where it is at in my opinion. I'm sticking to mobile for the near future, but I'd like to get my hands into everything at some point...
With free mobile games, you can reach a lot more people and I hope to build up a name with it.
I'd really like to get on steam as well. If Groupers does well, I might go work on a Pc/console version of the game...

It seems that DMP has learned a lot since i first spoke with him and im very glad to hear it, be sure to follow him here to stay updated on groupers and more.

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