I had no idea what a great title that was when I wrote it. I tried things and there were trying things. There were wonderful trips and concerts and shows. But there were awful things seemingly everywhere. Natural disasters. Unsettling revelations. A year of whiplash.
For starters, a quick review of the items on last year’s list.
The strength training that I do is taxing and concentrating on form is what takes most of my focus. With dozens of workouts stacked up in memory, sometimes I lose track of where I am in sets during a workout, particularly as volume has increased. Was that the 5th set? Sometimes I think an abacus would help, but have settled on using little tags of painter’s tape lined up on a shelf in my garage (where I work out). I move them back and forth as I finish sets.
In strength training, I usually do only a few exercises per workout, but as many as 10 sets, depending on the exercise. My warmups and mobility routines have a lot more exercises. It was a lot to keep track of, so I created Continue reading “FitnessApp Begins”
In 2014, friend, board game aficionado, and former colleague from The Los Angeles Film School, Sebastian Sohn put me in touch with folks at USC who were looking for part-time faculty to teach a level design class. I was already teaching level and game design full-time at LAFS, but USC has very well-regarded game development programs and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
I met with the inimitable Tom Sloper and in short order had a new level design class to build. I couldn’t use the materials I’d made for LAFS, naturally, so I had to rebuild things from the ground up. Including a simple game for students to make level packs for.
I rebuilt a basic platforming game following Sebastian Lague’s platformer tutorials.
When I started teaching level design, one of the important things I wanted students to learn was how to design a level progression that felt like it made sense and flowed. I initially had students make Sokoban levels.
Sokoban is a simple top-down puzzle game where you can push and only push a box or boxes on a gridded playing field with the goal of getting all the boxes onto their targets. It can make some delightfully simple and some delightfully mind-twisting puzzles, so there’s a lot of space to create a difficulty ramp over a series of levels. Continue reading “Games for Class Part I: Mustachio and Friends”
Training is going really well. Mostly because I’m doing something – anything – positive for my health, but results help. 🙂 I’ve lost ~20 pounds and move and feel so, so, so much better. It’s great. I’m still VERY new to this – training, tracking, all of it – so I’ve made a study of Calisthenic Movement’s YouTube channel, scouring the comments and cataloguing the videos. It’s been very educational.
I’ve written pages of feedback to CM about my experiences, good and bad, some of which I’ve seen come out in videos they’ve produced. I like to think I contributed, but I’m sure they get tons of feedback from their viewership and clients. This picture went along with a testimonial wrote for them and I liked it well enough to make it my profile pic pretty much everywhere.
A friend asked me to give a talk in his class about writing game design documents. This is a challenging task. Not just the writing – even simple games have a lot more moving parts than it might seem on the face of things – but specifically the task of teaching people to write good documents.
STEP 1: MAKE SOME GAMES
Nothing teaches like the crucible of game development itself. So for me, the first step in knowing how and what to write is to make games. Learn firsthand what needs to happen, the multitude of mechanics and assets that need to be created, how communication succeeds and fails in the course of production. Roll up your sleeves and jump right into building the plane in flight.
I used to play a game with myself while waiting to get picked up from school. I spent a lot of time in the same small spaces. Pre-smartphone (what am I saying? Pre-Internet) this meant reading or doing homework or simply sitting. Staring. I don’t recall exactly when, but at some point I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before in months and months of sitting in that very space.
More than 20 years away from that moment, I don’t have even a foggy recollection of what that first thing I noticed was. I do recall that it occurred to me… ‘I don’t know this place as well as I thought I did.’ So I started trying to notice new things. This extended reasonably quickly into connected spaces and poking around, opening doors and generally being curious about my environment.
After I had decided to start this exercise adventure but before rings came into the picture, there was a brief time where building some sort of structure in the back yard was under consideration. I ended up getting some rings – they’re so versatile, and I’ll have… wow… YEARS of work exploring what can be done with them – but that notion of designing and building still appeals to me.
In class the other day students were working diligently on their prototypes and in that little lull I decided to reach back to my architecture roots and model something for construction in my current game engine of choice, Unity. Past and present collide! The object of my efforts: the exercise structure described here by Calisthenic Movement’s Alex (El Eggs).