I’m back!

Hi all,

I sure haven’t posted on this site for over 2 years! My apologies for not being proactive on this site.

Ever since my move to San Jose, I have focused on living my life, whether it is visiting local spots, writing for Last Token Gaming, focusing on my current job, volunteering for geeky conventions like Fanime, and taking care of other personal things.

While I have been more focused on living life in San Jose, and working hard to stay in the South Bay, I have lost track into what I have been passionate about: software development, but mostly making games.

But I am planning on going with a different direction. During my time with Android app development, I have googled many results, with not a lot of results, and taking more time to develop features than I wanted to. While some solutions work, they can’t work for everybody. Which is why I want to share my solutions online so that any Android Developers who faced the same problems hopefully won’t take as long to make things work as it took me.

Of course, this applies to Game development, which I’m looking into investing my time at some point in the future!

Anyways, look forward to more posts in the future!

Header Image Credit goes to joshdill from DeviantArt. Good stuff!

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Nostalgia Game Review: Spyro the Dragon

Look at that majestic dragon!

Look at that majestic dragon!

Ahh Spyro the Dragon. This was an another game that I remembered playing at my aunt’s house years ago during the glorious PSOne years. I was drawn to this game because of the fact that you could play as a dragon. I also saw the commercials for the game which made me drawn to the game even more. I remember the good times I had from roasting sheep to well-done and ramming those nasty green bad guys to grab different colored gems. 14 years later, I managed to get this game at the PSN store and I had the pleasure playing this game again!

As it turns out, Spyro the Dragon was made to appeal to the younger audience so that Sony could broaden its audience. Around the time this game was made, all of the other hits were appealing to the older audience (with the exception of Crash Bandicoot) like Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, etc., so it was about time that the kiddies back in the day could have another game to play with. Insomniac Games (the guys behind Rachet and Clank series) managed to rise to the occasion. As the result, the kids yet again have another 3D classic gem for the Playstation library.

Spyro the Dragon takes place in the mythical Dragon Kingdom where dragons exist in harmony. That is, until Gnasty Gnorc  imprison all of the dragons into their crystal forms except for our main hero Spyro. As the small purple dragon with attitude, you have to traverse through all 5 realms to save all of your fellow dragons and defeat Gnasty once and for all.

This adventure takes Spyro through all 5 different realms before going to Ghastly’s world to settle the score. Each realm has different levels for Spyro to traverse through and rescue the dragons as well as collecting stolen gems and eggs (which the eggs are held by those nasty blue thieves). In each of the realms, there is a level where you can control Spyro as he flies and you have to hit all of the obstacles in order to complete the flight levels. In addition, each realm also has a boss which can pose a challenge to the player.

This is one of the earliest games where 3D controls are introduced which became the staple of all 3D games today. By that, I mean you could move your character with the joystick and use shoulder buttons to move the camera around. You could also look into the first person(ish) perspective by holding the triangle button. However, the camera is situated behind Spyro’s head rather in front of his head as the more modern 3D games have done. As someone who was more used to modern 3D game controls, it took me some time to gain a grasp of that. But I forgive this game. Besides, it is an early 3D game. Besides, having the ability to make Spyro glide (along with making Spyro ram into enemies and roast his foes) aren’t really shabby either. I mean, how could you not love gliding, burning your enemies, and ramming your enemies? I’d say it is rather satisfying!

The former drummer of The Police was responsible for composing the soundtrack in this game. For a former drummer, it was rather surprising to see what he managed to pull off in the electronic music department. Each of these tracks in the game were given a nice mythical feel to them, which fits the game rather well. Not to mention that the music on its own was decent to say the least. For some reason, the theme of the Peace Keepers realm has always stuck in my head for years and to this day I could still remember how it sounds.

Another great thing about this game is the ridiculous amount of variety that was put into this game. The developers went all out and added the variety to the realms, the levels in the realms, and the enemies that dwell in them. Each realm was never similar to the other, and in each of the differentiating levels, there are different enemies in which you have to defeat. Even through the number of  different enemies per level was rather small, you could never expect who you would face next when you step into a new level. In addition, the flight levels in each of the realms are a nice departure from the usual platforming that you have to do so often. The design that is put into the game complements each level and enemies rather well, as each enemy has a slightly different strategy in order to defeat these enemies.

At the time this game was made, it was more common practice in platformers to create enemies that have only have one function, which is to move around in a certain pattern. Spyro the Dragon departed from this usual formula to create the enemies with a AI that was more complex at the time. The enemies are more intractable to the player. For the most part, they don’t attack the player until the they get close. There are other enemies that do more than just that. Like the enemies manning cannons who would fire the cannon balls at Spyro and…this.

Why yes, they are indeed mooning Spyro.

Why yes, they are indeed mooning Spyro.

It’s always a treat when the developers try to deviate from the usual formula. And that’s where Insomniac Games did it fantastically well with the enemies in this game.

There is only one minor thing they could have done to make this game better. Before I say this, I’ll say that it is indeed a game made for the younger audience. That being said, the difficulty level in this game is rather not suited for the players that are looking for a challenge from the game (unless they are trying to earn a 100% completion in this game). The difficulty does curve up a bit later in the game, but for me, the curve isn’t well adjusted enough. Even though that the strategy slightly varies within each different enemy, it didn’t take much time to figure out how to best a new foe. Once I got to that point, I managed to (almost) breeze through the level without much trouble. Despite the fact that the difficulty did pick up at the fourth realm, it would have been more reasonable if the game didn’t take as long for the curve to slope up. Other than that, the challenge is rather reasonable for all players alike, which it’s not bad considering that it is a kid’s game.

Overall, it is a fantastic game. Even though it doesn’t age as well as other older games, it is rather a fun game to play if you are wanting to take a trip down memory lane or if you are a kid that have yet to hit their pre-teen years. However, if you don’t fit into either of these categories, its not a bad game to play. Even though it may be too easy for some people, its rather satisfying ramming your enemies or burning your enemies to crisp. If the lack of challenge is the only bad thing in this game, I’d say that Insomniac Games did a fantastic job making Sony reach out to the younger audiences as well as making the game enjoyable for everyone (I mean, how often do you get to play as a dragon and breathe fire?). This game deserves my score of 9 out of 10. If you are curious about this game and if you own a PS4, you could wait until this game is available in Playstation Now and try it out for yourself. Or if you don’t want to wait and if you have a PS3, you could just buy it from PSN no problem! Its pretty cheap too!

I’ll end this review with a interesting fact: One of the tracks used in Spyro The Dragon is used for The Amanda Show (that one Nick show that aired in the 90s). Listen to the track here and the show theme song here and hear for yourself!

Until next time, take care and don’t be strangers!

 

 

 

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.

Adopted by Last Token Gaming! An introductory blog post to Last Token Gaming followers from a new writer!

Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog! Or just welcome to the newcomers of this blog!

I have taken a month-long break to wrap up my programming apprenticeship, work on my side-projects, enjoy the holidays, apply for many job postings, and even work on programming problems that I need to do in order to move forward with my job candidacy with a few companies. But no worries, I haven’t forgotten about you guys!

During my break, I was taken in by Last Token Gaming as one of their own writers. This means that there will be some video game related blog posts coming in near the future! If you fellow followers haven’t like the Last Token Gaming page yet, do me and the rest of the crew an awesome favor and like the page here!

Now to introduce myself to Last Token Gaming followers, I am Jake Rushing, a recent graduate from UC Santa Cruz. I graduated in June 2013 with a degree in Computer Science: Computer Game Design. Which means I can make games!..to a certain extent. As I can contribute in most areas of game development, my main specialty is a programmer, so roughly 90% of my work is done by code. As I studied game development and programming, I looked into other areas of development, such as Web and Android, which led to my interest in other technologies. I hope that one day I can be a self-sufficient game developer as well as being knowledgeable in other areas such as hardware, back-end web development, and maybe music composer for games. Kinda like the jack of all trades kind of guy.

On the side, I am a self-proclaimed independent game developer, which means that I may write a article in regards of the development of my projects here and there. But since I just got a job offer in the San Jose area (a little to far for commute), I may have to put that on hold until I get settled down from moving and from starting my new job. On the bright side, I may have more time to work on my side projects than usual in comparison to my previous situation (living at home and looking for a job), so you’ll see my first post on independent software development in the near future.

Speaking of which, I am currently working on two side projects right now. One of them is an android app that it is still in concept phase. As for the other project, I am working on the prototype of a game idea that I wanted to work with for a while. I can’t reveal what it is yet, as I want to keep it a little quiet for now until the prototype is ready for the public. I can say that I want to release this game on Steam Greenlight and hopefully on both Android and iOS devices.

That is about all I have to say for now. Like The Last Token Gaming page por favor and enjoy this super corgi! I’ll see you guys soon!

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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!