Nintendo’s first gaming series: Game & Watch!

Hello readers! Welcome back to my blog!

I finally got around to make another blog post. What will I be talking about this time? One of the first predecessors to all handheld gaming that exists today, Game & Watch from Nintendo!

I can imagine on some of you readers are thinking. “Hey! Wasn’t he that guy from Super Smash Bros Brawl?”

Like this guy right here?

Like this guy right here?

Why yes he is that same guy. When I explained Candy & Watch Saga that Sean and I made for the Candy Game Jam, I always get that question. I am not sure why, but for some reason, I get more motivated to explain where the Super Smash Bros Brawl character came from. Which is going to be the topic of this post.

So where did this LCD-like fellow come from? Well, he was the character featured in the first handheld gaming entities made by Nintendo called Game & Watch. This idea for Game & Watch was begotten by a Nintendo game designer named Gunpei Yokoi. While traveling in 1979, he came up with this idea when he saw a business man pressing random buttons on his LCD calculator out of boredom. The idea then dawned on Yokoi to invent a device that could double as a watch and a gaming device that can be used to kill time. And that’s how Game & Watch came to be. It ended becoming one of the most success gaming products in the early 80’s as it helped Nintendo establish their footprint in the video game industry.

Donkey Kong Game & Watch

Donkey Kong Game & Watch

Each system has its own setup of button and screen(s), depending on the games. Some of the systems have two buttons that move Mr. Game & Watch forward and back in one screen, some of them  have four buttons move the fella diagonally in a screen. Some of them even have a d-pad and two screens like Nintendo DS! Each of them also has two additional buttons which each determine the game mode of the game, which is Game A and Game B. Game B is usually the harder version of Game A, with the objects in the game move faster. Each game screen has an LCD screen with the colored background. The sprites switch on and off similar to give off a pattern like a LCD clock to make it appear that the player is moving along the space. Check out of the video to get a look at the live play of Octopus.

Ball - first game made for the Game & Watch series

Ball – first game made for the Game & Watch series

For the entire duration that Game & Watch dominated the market, Nintendo created approximately 60 different Game & Watch games that spanned through the entire 80’s decade with the final entry being released in 1991. The very first game created was called Ball which was released in 1980. The objective of the game is to control the arms of the juggler and not drop a single ball on the ground. For each time that a ball lands in your hand, you score a point. If a ball misses your hand, you lose a chance. If you lose all three, then its game over. That similar formula of objective, scoring points, and losing chances is maintained throughout many different entries of the Game & Watch series. Many different ideas made it to the Game & Watch series. Some of the more popular games from the series include Octopus (the inspiration for our Candy & Watch Saga), Fire, and Oil Panic. Other games featured different characters from Nintendo back in the 80s including Mario & Donkey Kong. There are also other Game & Watch games that featured characters outside the Nintendo franchise such as Mickey Mouse, Popeye, and even Snoopy. The variety that Nintendo allowed in Game & Watch games managed to reach out to a huge variety of audiences making Game & Watch their first successful gaming series. If you are wondering about the current listing of all of the Game & Watch games, you can take a peek at this link here.

Hey...that looks awfully familiar. Hey that doesn't belong here!

Hey…that looks awfully familiar. Hey that doesn’t belong here!

Since the Game & Watch reigned in the 80s, the technology used was primitive. For the series, Game & Watch didn’t feature interchangeable cartridges so each system has only one game pre-installed. The specs were minimal (since Nintendo cared more about the game play rather than fancy technology at the time) as each game screen per system has an LCD screen with a colored background. The batteries required to operate each system were button cell batteries or the batteries you would find in your laser pointers. They designed to specs to be minimal to where the player can play the game for as long as possible. Assuming that the player plays 1 hour a day on the machine, 2 of the button cell batteries can power the machine for 3-6 months, depending on the usage of the system and the batteries used to operate Game & Watch. Isn’t technology great?

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Near the end of the 80’s, Nintendo slowed down the production of Game & Watch games as they decided to focus their efforts on building the first iteration of the Game Boy. The final Game & Watch game was released in 1991 and it would be the end of it… forever.

Or is it? Yes it was the end of releasing new Game & Watch games, but Nintendo managed to keep the Game & Watch legacy alive. Since 1997, Nintendo started porting the games into compilation games, starting with Game & Watch Gallery for the Game Boy. The Game & Watch Gallery series featured the modern remakes of the Game & Watch games that featured Mario characters, along with the classic versions of the games. Nintendo also ported the dual screen Game & Watch games out to the Nintendo DS store, but they were made exclusive to Club Nintendo members. The DS ports were the most recent ports for the Game & Watch, as the last one got released in 2010.

Game & Watch Gallery.

Will Nintendo ever plan to port the Game & Watch games again? Who knows? There doesn’t seem to any plans to port more Game & Watch games. But for now, Mr. Game & Watch will hold his spot in roster in the Super Smash Bros. series as the games themselves will hold their spot into the hearts of Nintendo and the players.

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Global Game Jam 2014 @ Facebook HQ! My experiences

Howdy ho everyone!

I just settled down from moving to San Jose to start my new job in a neighboring town. What did I do since my move-in at San Jose aside from working at my new job? Oh nothing big. Just participated at the awesome Global Game Jam at the Facebook HQ in Menlo Park!

And got some sweet Facebook swag!

And got some sweet Facebook swag!

Game Jams are contests where you have to form a team and make a game based on a theme that is given to the paticipants in a time period. Some of these jams give the participants 48 hours to make a game, but others give a longer deadline. Global Game Jam is the most well renowned Game Jam known to Game Developers because it is an international event that participants throughout the globe partake in this event. Where could you attend a Global Game Jam event? Well you could go to the GGJ website and find a site that is closest to you. Or you could even create one yourself if there is the closest site too far for you. But of course you have to find some people who would make a game with you.

At the Facebook HQ, we were to make a game that is based on the theme, “We don’t see things as they are, we only see things as we are.” At that point, we had 48 hours to form a team, come up with a game, and go through crunch time to make a game. I ended up in a team with people who I barely knew from college and with people who I had no idea who they were. Despite the lack of familiarity with one another, we managed to come together as one and worked our butts off with some of us getting as little as 3-5 hours of sleep at night.

We ended up making a game that turned out to be…a little more ambitious than we expected. Our idea is to make a Facebook multiplayer game which allows players to log in and then have them play as their profile pictures and have their friends join them. In this game, which is inspired by Agent Smith from The Matrix, you have to tag other people that dont share your persona and transform them into one of you. How did this turned out to be ambitious? In order to implement the multiplayer aspect of the game, you’d have to understand how to implement networking which is essential for making multiplayer games. I dont know exactly how it’s done, but what I do know is that it is one of the hardest features of a game to implement.

We worked our sleep-deprived rear ends off in attempt to make a game that is decent enough for everyone else to play. Despite our best efforts, we ran into a good amount of issues while making the game. If the networking aspect of the game wasn’t hard enough for us to implement, there were times when some of the work that we did that got overwritten by other people’s work. There were also some people (like me) who couldn’t even push their work into the repository. Between those two frustrating factors, we may have lost around 10 – 15 hours worth of work. This was a frustrating experience for people who weren’t familiar with version control software called Git which allows many people to push their work into a repository.

Curse you Git!!!

Curse you Git!!!

Thankfully, one of the team members brought a lot of USB drives, which saved our bacon near the end as it prevented more loss of work.

Despite the fact that nobody knew each other, we worked well together as a team and we did spetacular in contrubiting our efforts. However, at the end of the jam, our game wasn’t as complete as we would have liked. We managed to implement networking along with AI and a good amount of other features. Another sad thing about the outcome is that we could not implement the facebook login like we wanted to on time. In the end, the only way that anyone could play the game is if you have an Access token which is used to debug and test Facebook apps, which, for this game, the token is only known by two of the people I worked with. For this reason, we didn’t upload our game to the Global Game Jam site, so if you were to search for Agent Borg, you wouldn’t find it. The only evidence I could scrape up that says that I made a game is a couple of pictures here.

The only way to ever get in the game

The only way to ever get in the game

The sphere on the top is trying to convert another being into a sphere like itself

The sphere on the top is trying to convert another being into a sphere like itself

I feel bad that the game was limited in access as well as playability. But I am rather pleased with the experience that I had from this year’s Global Game Jam. I leared a alot from working with a bigger group in crunch time. I learned that when working with a big team, you have to figure out on what your role is, what you will do to help out your team, and you gotta work fast in order to get features implemented quickly. And being organized in terms of what the game needs done helps too. And learning how to work with 3-5 hours of sleep a night also helps as well.

Since Agent Borg didn’t turn out well enough for me to share with you guys, I will make it up to you. As of now, me and Sean Willis, a fellow member of Last Token Gaming , are joining forces to make a game for another Game Jam. This Game Jam has already started and we have until next Monday to create a game. What is the theme of this new Game Jam? What game are we making? That will be revealed on my next posting!

Until then, farewell and dont be strangers!

Bo & Yana: A dynamic duo to help a child learn programming while having fun!

Hello again lovelies!

My apologies for a late post! I have been busy since the later part of last week because I was in a mix of different things, including my brother’s graduation from Chiropractor School, my apprenticeship course on programming in Java, and interview with a company named SOASTA (which didn’t go well).

I want to make corrections that I have made on my previous posts.

In the post I have made about Google Fiber, it has brought to my attention that the speed of the internet is measured in bits per second, not bytes per second. So Google Fiber runs 1 Gigabit per second. Bits and bytes do make the difference in terms of speed (8 bit =  1 byte). So the numbers are off in terms of time as well so I apologize for providing inaccurate information. A 10Mbps user would get Walking Dead season 3 in about 9 minutes while a Google fiber user would get it in 5.5 seconds(but still fast!!!)

And on my last post, I want to verify that when I said PS4 lacked of original titles, I was talking about in terms of AAA titles, like Ryse: Son of Rome for Xbox One. I forgot to add the ‘aside from indie games’ right after mentioning its lack of titles and I apologize for that as well. I will be more careful next time when I make future posts.

Without further ado, I want talk about something I recently discovered that I think it is really awesome (with bias aside, as I am a programmer myself). I was going to cover Amazon Prime flight drones, but I find this more fascinating because it can help make teaching kids programming easier on the parents. If you want me to cover Amazon Prime drones in a future posting, let me know!

We all know that the tech industry is booming. In about 10 years, the technology would expand significantly as we will have more devices and systems to operate with in our daily lives to make things easier, which means more technical/programming jobs are needed to be filled in. If you want to excel at anything, like piano playing or construction, then it would be best to start early at a young age. Kids who are aspiring to be great pianists should start with a piano, or the closest thing that their parents could afford to a piano. Kids who want to build things should be given Legos of some sort to play with. How about when you want to teach your kids programming? Well writing lines of code could be fun for people 16+ given the right mindset, but tykes at age 7 would rather play with Legos or other toys than to sit at a computer and learn how to write lines of code. This is where Bo and Yana come in.

Stepping into the playground are Bo and Yana! Bo is a bigger robot built for following programming commands from children and Yana, the smaller robot, has the capabilities of storytelling!

Stepping into the playground are Bo and Yana! Bo is a bigger robot built for following programming commands from children and Yana, the smaller robot, has the capabilities of storytelling!

Play-i’s Bo & Yana are both toy robots that are designed to teach kids programming through interactive storytelling in a way that is appealing for kids. Now how exactly could the kids program the robots? Well, the kids interact with Bo by using a iPad device. You’d just have to worry about connecting Bo to iPad via bluetooth and the child is ready to play! The iPad app allows the kid to program commands through different icons. Kids can create a combination of icons that can make the robot do many things, such as turning right and moving forward when it bumps to a wall. There are also a variety of accessories for the robots that open even more possibilities of interaction . I’ll leave a video here so you can see more of what these two cute robots do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLDQDaPHy9E.

Another cool thing about this is when the kids get older and want to expand their coding skills, there is a way you could do that. Parents have many options of different programming languages they could program into these robots, so they could learn Python or C++ or whatever languages the parents desired.

If you are ever so curious about getting these robots now, Play-i is currently taking pre-orders for their product. They have already sold out the developer packs where you could get the API to tinker with the robots’ functionalities (and define the programming language) along with Bo and Yana. But other options are still open, and it is wise to get the pre-order now, as the prices will increase when they hit retail shelves in Summer 2014.

What do you guys think about teaching kids programming? I feel that these robots would be great for your kid if you want them to learn programming to order for them to make a good living for themselves (that is, if you want them to go on the path of programming). There is a possibility that kids could play with this indoors all of the time and not spend enough time outside. Of course, that could be fixed by making them spend a certain amount of time outside (with or without Bo and Yana). If I was a 7 year old child, I would spend my free time with Bo & Yana(aside from video games) if iPads existed back in the day, remembering that I loved toys that allowed interaction in my earlier years.

That is all I have for this week. I wanted to show off a personal game project that I have been working on, but I have been busy with many affairs on the side, including an apprenticeship class that I’m currently taking and tinkering around with a couple of existing projects. I can tell you as of my last post that I have made some progress on it, but not as much progress as I would have liked. Hopefully, when my apprenticeship is over on Dec. 21 or Dec. 22, the pace will then pick up. I can promise that when I reveal my personal game project, that I’ll have a prototype ready for you guys to play with it! In the meantime, I can show off what I have been tinkering with hopefully on my next post!

Until then, don’t be strangers!

PS4 Vs. Xbox One, the launch aftermath

Hello everyone!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with family, friends, and with some nice turkey! And I hope that everyone had a safe Black Friday(if you went of course) and didn’t get trampled over a killer HDTV sale, or a steal of a deal for movies.

Sony  announced their console back in February to positive feedback from the crowd. They shared some interesting features, one of which you could record a live stream video of you playing Call Of Duty (no face cam thankfully) and share it online with a press of a button on your controller. PS4 may not have their motion control controls like Nintendo or Microsoft did with their systems, but they made little tweaks with the PS4 controller that enhance the gaming experience by adding a speaker, a headphone jack, and a touch pad. PS4 also became the second consecutive console to have a Blu Ray player.

When Microsoft revealed Xbox One a few months later, they received some unfortunate backlash. Some aspects of the reveal weren’t understood correctly, but one of the features unveiled clearly was that gamers had to pay a fee if they want to lend their game to their friends. Microsoft eventually removed their bogus features in response to criticism from critics and consumers along with some playful jabs from Sony (check out one of their jabs here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOwA46785pk). At least Microsoft is taking their new console to a new direction, which it’ll be more of a entertainment system than a video game console as you can also watch television, Skype with your loved ones, watch movies, and switch between these different modes with Kinect that is now part of the package. Oh, and it doubles as a Blu Ray player, which it is a first for a Microsoft gaming console.

It has now been two weeks since PS4 launched, and it has been one week since Xbox One made its way to the retail shelves. Did the consoles survive the launch? Lets check out PS4, since it got released first.

As a game console, PS4 does pretty well on its own. PS4 was received with welcoming arms from the public. It doesn’t come off as a surprise, as Sony was focused with a gamer vision when it comes to developing consoles and it does well. Sony is even supportive of independent game developers, as it even includes some of independent games as part of its launch title lineup. The only issue that PS4 had with launch is that it got its equivalent “Red Ring of Death”, which it indicates its hardware failure and inability to operate by showing a pulsing blue line, hence the new popular term “Blue Light of Death”. A PS4 vs. Xbox One comparison article from Kotaku mentions that this affects 1% of the consoles. Not bad, even though that it’s still a lot of consoles being affected with this condition. If that and its lack of its original launch titles are the two worst things about PS4 at its launch, then it must be doing pretty solid, considering that a lot of people love it’s gaming vision for the console. That’s about all I have for PS4. Now onto Xbox One.

Despite the fact that Xbox One didn’t get as much love from the public in the beginning as it would have hoped, it ended up selling out on day one of its release. The direction that it took with its latest iteration of the console of it being the entertainment console ended up being well received throughout the globe. Like PS4, it also has an hardware issue of its own. Not too long after its launch, people have already started hearing loud grinding noises with the hard drive when someone inserts a disk into a drive and the console doesn’t load the disc. Thankfully, Microsoft responded by offering a free launch title to those affected by the issue. Microsoft has sure earned a good amount of brownie points with that gesture. The number of consoles affected by this issue is a small number, although the exact amount has yet to be disclosed. Despite its issue that got people frustrated, a lot of people enjoyed what Microsoft had to offer in its take on the console. This kind of love for Microsoft consoles will continue to grow as long as they keep the lending fees away from their consoles.

If the readers here have a hard time deciding what console to get, it all depends on your preference. Every other site that compares both systems will say the same the exact same thing. If you are a person that wants a true gaming console, then PS4 is definitely your best bet. But if you want a great game system that you can do more with than just playing games, then Xbox One will be great for your needs. The visuals on games are great and it does well in other aspects (although Kinect is not 100% keen on picking up voice commands).

All I have to say about the console is…man what happened to lack of backwards compatibility with older games? Now I have to keep my PS3 and 360 if I want to play the games. I wish that they could include the required hardware to play older games. But I guess thats how things go. Oh and if you guys are curious about the hardware specification comparison with both consoles (and with Wii U specs), then I’ll show you the link here: http://www.ign.com/wikis/xbox-one/PS4_vs._Xbox_One_vs._Wii_U_Comparison_Chart.

XboxOnePS4

Again, I hope that all of you had a wonderful thanksgiving! I hope to reveal a side project that I’m working on sometime by next week or the following week. Until then, don’t be strangers and enjoy your weekend!

Google fiber!

Hello again fellow peeps!

This week, I’ll be making a shorter post, with focusing on one topic per post as it may be the trend for the following posts that I’ll make. We’ll see how this goes.

This week, I managed to look into Google Fiber as I discovered it around last week. After looking more into Fiber, it is one of the most amazing things I have seen! It may not be as awesome as Google Glasses, but its probably one of the most life changing products that any company has ever done.

We all want things fast. Even though a California internet customer can surf their web at an average speed of 20Mbps (amount of data downloaded per second for those who are not familiar with internet speed), we can all use faster internet. Even non-Californian residents need faster internet since the average internet speed in the US is 5Mbps. Everybody here would be more satisfied if we all have access to to faster internet.

For those who have no idea what Google Fiber is, Google Fiber is fiber broadband network offered for internet and television. They offer their service which runs at a rate of 1Gbps. ONE GIGABYTE PER SECOND! HOLY SWEET JESUS!!

If you are not familiar on how fast that could be, lets make a comparison. Lets say for example that both Joe and Bob (very original names right?) want to download the third season of The Walking Dead, which consists of 16 episodes with each episode with the size with the approximate size 340 MB. Joe has his internet service which provides the speed of 10Mbps while Bob has Google Fiber. Downloading the entire third season for Joe would take him about 1 hour and 13 minutes. Which is it does take a long time for a season to download. Bob on the other hand, would have taken him 44 seconds to get the whole season, and he would have already started watching the second episode by the time Joe is done downloading the season. Less than a minute for one whole season?? Now we’re talking!

At this point, I be that you guys would say, “HOLY SWEET JESUS THAT IS FAST! Where can I get this awesome internet service?”

Unfortunately, Google Fiber is only available to the residents of Kansas City of Kansas and Missouri, and Google recently made plans to extend their service to Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah. However, there is a source that says that Google is planning to extend their service at some unannounced Western city in 2014. I think Palo Alto would be the city that Google has in mind, since Google is right in that area and Google had Stanford University tested Google Fiber. But who knows, my guess could be as good as anyone else’s. However, there will be a day where we can experience the blazing speed of their fiber service. When we do, this is certainly going to have an amazing effect on everyone, including the people who are running their start up companies.

Fast like a rabbit!!

Fast like a rabbit!!

That is all I have for this week. If you guys have any input on this blog site, on my blog posts, or anything that I can do to make this better, then feel free to leave your input in the comments. Otherwise, I’ll see you all next week!