Game Design
stories, tips, follies,
...and making some $$$ along the way!

About to release a new game - Zodiac Reactor

Posted by: Sam Horton on May 19, 2009 at 10:11 PM

This game was supposed to be next in line after Oroboros back in 2007, but as often happens, life takes us on a different route. I wound up putting Zodiac Reactor on the back burner to make room for several other projects.

Last week I decided that it was just too close to being finished for it to sit there collecting dust, so I've been working non-stop in an effort to wrap things up. It's pretty much finished, but I need to hunt for bugs a bit more before releasing it.

Creating Stars Would be Fun
Zodiac Reactor is basically a skill game where you try to collect elemental particles to fuel this star generator that is floating somewhere out in space. When you collect enough of each element, the reactor spits out a star and the universe is happy!

The arrow keys are the main controls you use to play, and each one corresponds to a particular element. Your job is to sync the reactor up with the same colored element at precisely the right time. If you miss, things will get hot and eventually you'll break it. The gameplay gets really fast-paced along the way, and will wind up giving your brain a decent workout. To keep things interesting, I included a mode called terminal velocity that maxes out all stats...It's crazy fast!

Concept and Artwork
I used a mix of Lightwave 3D and Flash to create all the art for this game. I'm pretty useless when it comes to pen and paper drawing, so working in 3D is fantastic. All the lighting and shading can be easily tweaked, and the possibilities are just endless if you have the patience. For this game I wanted a sleek and futuristic look with a lot of glowing sh!t...particle fx, magic runes that light up, etc.

What's your Sign?
Incorporating the Zodiac signs into a game about stars seemed to be a good fit. I decided to arrange each one based on the element it represents, and then make a belt of interlocking tiles that light up as you progress through the game. When all of the tiles are lit up, you win—At least in normal mode. There are a few survival game-modes as well, which is where things really get interesting in my opinion.

Music and Sound FX
In another life, I used to play the guitar, and for some reason, on this game I felt the urge to bust it out of its case and whip up a track. It's a pretty light-hearted song, with just enough synth to cover up my woeful strumming. I also made an ambient loop for the intro screen, which is nice and calm. For years I've been using FL Studio to make loops and sound effects, and highly recommend it if you're interested in getting a great piece of audio software without killing your wallet.

High Scores
Back when I released Oroboros, I built a custom high scores page that wound up being the second most visited page on my site, so I decided to make an even nicer leaderboard page for Zodiac Reactor! It has a comment system that you can post to directly from the game, and a bunch of other cool features. Hopefully it won't crush my server, but that's a problem I'm definitely willing to deal with!

I'm still thinking about how I want to go about releasing this game. I think it's my best one yet, so I'd rather not be too hasty. If any portal owners are reading this, I'm probably going to offer non-exclusive deals, but I'm open to any ideas as long as they are reasonable. If you want to get in touch, you can send me a message here.

Thanks for reading this long winded post. Be sure to keep an eye on the site over the next few days. Zodiac Reactor will be ready for beta testing soon!

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By: Sam Horton | May 19, 2009 at 10:11 PM | | Leave a comment

Some of my Favorite Free Games

Posted by: Sam Horton on Mar 24, 2009 at 6:07 PM

I was thinking about how much fun I've had over the past few years making games and participating in the Flash Game Community, and decided to write a few blurbs about the games that have inspired me during that time.

Considering the times, I figured it would would be appropriate to write something for the budget minded among us. So If you are looking for some of the better (in my opinion) free games from the past few years, definitely give the article a read and let me know what you think!

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By: Sam Horton | Mar 24, 2009 at 6:07 PM | | Leave a comment

Building a Team

Posted by: Sam Horton on Jan 22, 2009 at 9:50 PM

One of my good friends, Chuck Wainman is joining the Funface Games team as a fellow game designer/developer. He taught me most of what I know about programming, and has a proclivity for turning 500 or so of my lines of code into two or three...Which is fine, because I usually have to convert his programmer art into something that won't make your eyes bleed!

How it all began

Chuck and I have literally worked on thousands of small (student) games together while we taught a class called Interactive Media Design at Full Sail. Chuck is now teaching a class in software architecture, and brings a great deal of experience to the table, not just in programming, but in Game Design as well.

The challenges at hand

I've been running Funface Games solo for several years, but as of late, things have been getting too busy for one person to handle. There are several projects looming on the horizon, including a game that Chuck has been conjuring up for a while titled: Hero Master. I'm definitely looking forward to being able to focus on specific tasks instead of spreading myself thin with the coding, art, sound design, promotion, yada yada yada. As fun as all of that is, you really can't exceed in everything at the same time.

So welcome aboard Chuck! Lets finish some games :)

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By: Sam Horton | Jan 22, 2009 at 9:50 PM | | Leave a comment

New Game - Flubber Rise

Posted by: Sam Horton on Nov 19, 2008 at 6:04 PM

Wow has it really been almost a year since I last released a game? ...Unacceptable!

I decided to take a break from the two big projects that I've been working on for the last 6 months, and challenge myself to create a game in 3 days!

The decision was inspired by Wayne Marsh's game: Starland Multiplayer Tower Defense, which he developed in as much time, and won a whopping $15,000 first place prize in Nonoba's multiplayer game contest. Congrats Wayne! Truly inspiring, and definitely makes me re-think how I utilize my time.

Flubber Rise wound up taking exactly 1 week from concept to completion, and most of the time was spent making the sound effects and music track. I can really eat up a lot of time fiddling around in FL Studio when it comes to sound design. It's such a nice beak from coding, and definitely ranks as one of my favorite aspects of making games.

Anyway, check out the game, and let me know what you think. Here's a few screenshots:

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By: Sam Horton | Nov 19, 2008 at 6:04 PM | | Leave a comment