Coding with the aid of MOAI and what it means to me

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Before I get into depths with the article/post itself I would like to make one thing clear: I am a bad, bad, BAD programmer. Most of the stuff that I implement is based on many iterations and hacks that, in the end, somehow get tied together nicely and function (almost) properly.

In my last article I stated that I started out making games back in 06-07 on the TGC forums, using DarkBasic and later with DarkGDK. This statement is important to this topic mostly due to the fact that I “grew up” with a code editor in front of my nose and not a visual tool, fact that influenced my decision to use MOAI. Back in the early days, DarkBasic was the closest thing to magic that I ever encountered. With just a few lines of code I could get a “game” up in minutes (and by game I mean interactive thingy with cubes moving ’round) and share it with everyone who had eyes to see my “masterpiece” (which I did, having posted 3 projects on the WIP section in 2 months). It had literary no visual tool there to help you with anything and I never bothered (nor had the knowledge) to make one myself. And I liked it, made me feel more in control. Later on I moved to DarkGDK which was the C++ flavor of DarkBasic, in order to learn the language “most-used in the industry back then”. Again, same thing, visual studio was my one and only tool. Now, 8 years later I still feel most at home in an environment that places a textbox with syntax highlighting in front of me.

I tried using using Unity 3D (even acquired a license at one point) only to get scared by interface not 10 minutes after first opening it up. It reminded me of Blender’s UI and I wanted nothing to do with it. With DarkGDK reaching it’s limits (and mine) in terms what I could do with it without something going hay-wire unexpectedly and crashing the whole damn thing I was in search of another framework to use. As stated, I’m a bad coder and writing my own from the ground up would mean loosing allot of time and ending up with a square for a wheel. I searched for a framework that would be high-level enough for me to string together a prototype in little time while also giving me access under the hood. And this where MOAI hits the nail on the head. Continue reading

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Looking back on 2013 and plans for 2014

So I’m officially 1 year in as a wanna-be Indie Developer (since I have yet to release my game). It’s a tough ride governed by many decisions and mistakes. I’d like to take the time and share my experience after this first year. Hopefully it will be useful for people starting out or a good read for those without content to consume after the New Year’s party.

Going Indie

Doesn’t seem like a hard thing. To be honest, it looks allot like pledging to participate in a ludumdare event. No formalities, no signatures, no contracts and NDA’s. For me it’s more like a state of mind which translates to “Now I can be in full control of my projects and do what I want”. Another way to put it would be like having a cigarette smoker (like myself) saying “Today, I will quit smoking”. It’s easy to say, easy to get into that mental state but it’s hard to keep at it. Most people advice to not take the plunge until you have enough money to sustain yourself for at least 1 year. I think that’s a good, sane idea. I did not listen to it but that’s because I took another approach.

Moving back to my hometown

Sometime in December 2012 I moved back to my hometown after quitting my job at @Gameloft. My mother’s illness really progressed and I was expecting the worse. I proceeded to finish my last year of University/College by commuting to Bucharest almost daily. Thankfully things have gotten better for her since then but she’s not out of the woods. After I finished college I was faced with a huge problem: My funds we’re bellow 0, commuting daily burning all my savings and my folks we’re in the same boat. I couldn’t afford to move back to Bucharest and search for a job (renting an apartment there is expensive for Romanian Standards and you have to pay at least two months in advance) so I decided to make the best of it.

The bright side of things

The idea was to try out the indie life, make a game, release it and see if I can in any way afford to live off of it. My goal was simple: Make enough money from my first release in order to afford to buy a pack of cigars daily for one month, and two beers each weekend. The total sum amounts to: 105 euros. If I could reach this goal then there might by a chance of being able to turn this into a viable business.

By moving back home I don’t have to worry about paying rent each month, nor having to buy food or pay for transportation, which allowed me to focus on one project full time with no other distractions. Living in Romania also provides a huge advantage as, compared to other countries, the cost of living is relatively small and I can get away with earnings that otherwise would be considered less than sufficient in other places.

The project – Mutant Gangland –

Last July I took part in the Mini-LD hosted by @sorceress, #7DRTS challenge. I wanted to go head to heads with a friend of mine and ex co-worker @Radu Chivu. In the end we both took part but only for two days. I ended up with a messy and sluggy tbs which I dubbed Mini Wars. I was heavily disappointed in my creation and set up to remake it (more details on that here). First rule of order was to fix the broken pathfinding implementation I used and design a proper AI.

With a bit of luck I manage to get @Thomas Nopper’s attention and enlist him to help me out with the graphical assets of the game. Over the course of 6 months Thomas waved (and keeps on waving) his magic wand at the screen and kept on producing new graphics and sprites for the game, while I kept tuning, balancing and polishing the game. Looking back on it, things have changed quite a bit:

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