SYNTH7 Chemically engineered games.

Mapping Pixels is a Balancing Act in Our Video Game World

Mapping Pixels is a Balancing Act in Our Video Game World

Creating a game, be it indie or not, involves solving a lot of problems. It is one thing to imagine all sorts of interesting game mechanics, level designs, story arcs, and everything else, but beneath all of that is an important question: How are we going to get these things on to the screen? Even that question reveals a rabbit hole. Should our game be 2D or 3D? Or maybe 2.5D? How should we represent objects, characters, etc.? And what about the rest of the game world? We’ll stop the line of questioning right there for now.

Focusing in on our representation of the game world brings whole new branches of questions. How should our levels be constructed? What do we need to do to get the level graphics on the screen? Can we do something that allows us to be iterative and experimental?

As we pondered these questions and…

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The Porridge Isn’t Too Hot or Cold! An Indie Game for Deep and Casual Gamers

The Porridge Isn’t Too Hot or Cold! An Indie Game for Deep and Casual Gamers

Some of my fondest memories with video games are as a kid meandering through the world of Chrono Trigger and getting to know its characters in a way that almost made them real. In some ways it was like a good book that I couldn’t put down, but in a more visual, audible, and interactive way (though books will always have a treasured place in my life too). That lens is focusing our efforts today and challenging us to think about how indie games can be an immersive experience or a casual hobby.

Our goal, though it seems difficult to surmount right now, is to build something that enables some players to pick up the game and quickly enjoy a few rounds in 5-10 minute increments, while also catering to those who want to more deeply engage in gameplay for longer periods at a time. That’s led us toward an…

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Forming the Business Entity Behind our Indie Game

Forming the Business Entity Behind our Indie Game

We’re two guys working on our first game, and since we don’t have the chops to build some  killer game art and mood-setting music we’re planning to pay someone else who can. That immediately adds a level of complexity to what we’re doing though, because previous to that our only real “expense” was labor.

Add on things like a license for Unity 3D Pro, various add-on components we’re planning to use, and the eventual spend on marketing the existence our game and the problem solidifies. Claiming those expenses on taxes has to be associated with a business entity, and since we’ll be entering into contracts with contractors and other companies it makes sense for us to try to limit liability to whatever assets the business controls.

Here are the business entities we considered:

Sole Proprietorship – won’t work because both of us are responsible for half the liability and will…

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Building Territories in an Indie Game World Using Mathematical Graphs

Have you ever pushed especially hard in a video game just to gain experience or skill points? Take World of Warcraft for example, which regularly divvies out talent points as a player levels up. Choosing different talent paths creates fundamentally different characters with specialized abilities. For example a mage that has massively powerful fire spells can dominate a battlefield from a damage perspective while an ice mage  can slow and control enemies far more effectively.

Building Territories in an Indie Game World Using Mathematical GraphsFrom a technical perspective, the progression through that talent tree is likely governed by a mathematical graph. Similarly in our indie game we’re figuring out how various abilities unlock others, and how the player can earn each level of abilities.

Beyond skill trees, this concept also has bearing on how sprites move through a map or level because it impacts…

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Building Our Indie Game One Bean at a Time

Building Our Indie Game One Bean at a Time

Somewhere in Indie Developer land I’m sure there exists a perfected method of prototyping a game concept before coding and building it out, but we at SYNTH7 have yet to discover it. So instead we’re returning to the basics, and more specifically pen and paper with one magic ingredient: dried beans.

If you hadn’t guessed, (or if you’re new and in that case welcome!) yet based on hints in our past posts, our game concept has to do with territory control between opposing forces that are both employing their own forms of weapons. It sounds easy enough to (1) talk about various game mechanics playing out and interacting with game elements and (2) take notes on the discussion so that we remember to follow up on it later, but we’ve quickly discovered that it’s also easy to get lost in an endless loop of ideas.

We made a commitment to…

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Indie Gamers & Developers : Do You Really Need a Well Rounded Game?

Indie Gamers & Developers : Do You Really Need a Well Rounded Game?

As a fledgling two person indie studio, SYNTH7 is always thinking about how to make our games appealing, and one of the early questions we struggled with is how to shape our game for the audience it will appeal to most. We don’t have all the answers, but below are some of the directions we’re moving in right now – we welcome feedback and healthy discussion!

Mingling with our need to build a game that delights a specific audience is a creative direction that’s inspired by something we’re passionate about. So while we’re trying to hold true to that vision, there are numerous smaller decisions that will change the resulting gameplay in notable ways. Even in these early stages, we’ve noticed that it’s tempting to appeal to everyone as a well rounded game, and do so poorly versus delivering a really powerful experience to a specific segment. If that’s something…

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Latest Couch Vaporizer, the $499 Virtuix Omni Treadmill = Exercise + Gaming

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, playing video games mainly consisted of sitting on a couch, controllers in hand, and the only things moving were fingers on buttons. There are tons of great games that take advantage of that interaction, but recently we’ve been seeing an outpouring of new input devices and the Virtuix Omni Treadmill is another example.

The difference? This is more of a whole body & mind experience than finger motion detection like on the Leap Motion, or body scanning like with the Xbox Kinect. In this case the player is actually running forward, backward, to the side and so on and the game world is mimicking those same motions. That could open a world of possibilities in terms of fine-tuned control, exercising, and bringing a game world closer to even more of our sense of place and center of being.

So detecting body motion is…

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Microsoft Fumbling for Identity & Stepping on Gamers

Microsoft Fumbling for Identity & Stepping on Gamers

Microsoft is beginning to question its identity but along the way it’s, inadvertently or not, stepped on gamers several times. For a long time, the company has been able to corner large swaths of the market. That’s been evident with ecosystems like its Windows operating system, its Office suite of applications, and to a lesser extent with the Xbox.

When Microsoft first announced the Xbox One and indicated that gamers may need to connect at least once every 24 hours  to Xbox Live in order to play games they’d purchased, it looked like consumers were almost ready to bite the bullet and accept that requirement, though certainly with some grumbling. Only after Sony followed up with an announcement that they would follow existing precedent and allow players to use games as long as they had the disc did Microsoft succumb to pressure and change course.

Now more details are arriving…

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Should Indie Developers Always Jump at the Latest Input Device?

Should Indie Developers Always Jump at the Latest Input Device?

Motion Input - DancingLately we’ve seen several new input methods arriving, all vying for a piece of the consumer’s wallet. They all promise new and more intuitive ways of communicating with machines, but sometimes the real world experience falls short or lacks enough obvious uses to pull consumer interest. That’s where indie game developers play an important role, and can make or break a new device or ecosystem.

Devices and ecosystems are inseparably intertwined, just look at Ouya’s Free the Games Fund, or  Apple’s App Store, or the Google Play Store, Xbox LIVE, Playstation Store . . . you get the idea. All of them connected to (a) device(s)  and all of them are working to make their ecosystems easier to use or more accessible for indie developers. Why? Because consumers are thirsty for novel content that  pokes at their curiosity and…

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Just Another Indie Game Studio, Learn with Us

Just Another Indie Game Studio, Learn with Us

Just Another Indie Game Studio Learn with UsIt starts with two guys with a passion for gaming. Toss in a background in building and marketing on the web, and some ideas on how to help other people have fun, and you have SYNTH7 –  an indie gaming studio working on its first idea.

While we aren’t ready to talk about our first idea yet, we’ll be sharing information with you about the process we’re going through to build the game and start our new business. Our hope is that other indie developers just starting out can benefit from what we learn. We’ll also post news we find interesting with some of our perspective on how it impacts us (and likely other indie developers) or new opportunities we see in the marketplace.

Right now we’re spending a lot of time reading about…

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