First Tuesday ~ Princess to the Rescue

This evening at our Grrrl Games First Tuesday meetup we were treated to a preview of Princess to the Rescue – a puzzle platformer from A Little Red Panda game studio. It’s absolutely charming (great colours and cute butterflies!!) and has evolved way beyond its origins as Viki Johnson’s student project. Viki talked us through the process of making Princess to the Rescue, which she built in Construct2 pretty much single handed. It’s a great showcase of her artwork and game design skills, and is currently in tester mode – if you want to have a go yourself sign up here. The current version plays on pc/mac/linux and we had quite a discussion on game platforms, publishing and what steps to take next to get a game out there for people to buy their kids. A Little Red Panda is definitely one to watch.

Princess to the Rescue

After Viki’s presentation we had time for a troubleshooting session with Ben Pitt (aka @robotduck) which tonight mostly focused on discussion around using Twine with Unity and Wwise audio. There are a few of us developing projects that include text on screen so we will organise a more in-depth session focusing on using Twine & Unity together. This will either be at a First Tuesday or on a Saturday afternoon, soon.

Talking twine & unity

Ben also quickly shared a few more introductory game editors for people new to making games ~ Flickgame ~ Scratch ~ Bitsy ~ PuzzleScript ~ which all definitely seem worth exploring as a quick way to get started with no coding experience.

And finally – we talked a little about going to games events and conferences to get networking and get your game noticed. So if you have a game that just needs a final polish, why not submit it to the Develop 2017 Indie Showcase?

“On top of the opportunity to show off their game to around 2,000 developers and publishers in Brighton, all 10 finalists will receive one two-day pass to Develop:Brighton (Wednesday & Thursday), up to five Expo passes, pre-event publicity and a profile on the event website.”

It’s worth a crack ~ you have until the 19th May to submit so get going! HERE’S THE LINK

 

First Tuesday ~ Audio & Games with Alison Bown

March 2017 First Tuesday meetup at bristolgameshub was on all things Audio, with a really useful presentation from Alison Bown about how to get started creating and editing sounds for your game. Alison has years of experience working in film and games; she was recruited straight from film school by Electronic Arts to work on games and is currently in the throes of an Interactive Narrative and Spatial Audio PhD.

We had a wide-ranging introduction to useful software and hardware, from free stuff to top of the range. I learnt that protools can be evil but necessary if you want to work in film sound, and that an iphone is a more than adequate recording tool if you don’t want to shell out for an ambisonic Zoom H2N with four microphones on top. We even covered how to make an ad-hoc sound recording booth – basically walling yourself into a cupboard with blankets or sticking a mattress behind your head.

Alison played us some of the sounds she has created over the years and showed us how she layers up from component parts; pretty much the same techniques are used in film and games but with game you need to know more about compression and chopping up files into re-usable bits. (That’s my non-tech explanation of what she actually said). She recommended we read “From The Shadows of Film Sound” by Rob Bridgett to get a good overview of sound techniques and how to use audio to good effect in games.

We covered sound fx, copyright, atmospheric sound ( randomised sounds on top of a base sound), memory, routing (a fundamental in film & games so I’ll be reading up on that), setting reverb in Unity, making MIDI sounds, file formats (mp3 vs wav vs .ogg), pitch/shifting, sound seeds (! another one to investigate further), and so on. It seems to be a lot about layering. I also learnt that stems are how you organise sound for a mix – I will be downloading myself a list of terms to bandy about when talking audio!

It was a mind-reeling comprehensive intro to lots of things, with time for answers to people’s more specific questions about their projects. Lots to think about and follow up, and quite reassuring to those of us who are muddling through and now find out we were doing things right. (I mean me, using my phone and audacity to record and edit).

Alison recommended we think about using Wwise middleware (similar to fmod) that works with Unity and Unreal games engines, and sent us a link to a “Great Blog with loads of tips including why to use Wwise” from annesoaudio:

Here are a few more links from Alison ~

Reaper demos, Reaper Controls,

Unity & audio

Wwise Demo in action: Twenty mins in, show and tell of intricate Wwise project in game.

Thanks Alison – slightly fried my brain but a really useful evening.

nb we are open to suggestions for topics for First Tuesdays, just join our meetup group for women working in games and post an idea.

May 2016 meetup

Still not too late to sign up now for our May meetup for women wanting to make games, hosted at Bristol Games Hub – Ben Pitt aka @robotduck is teaching us how to set up Player or NPC animated characters in Unity. Here’s a sneak preview of the sort of thing we’ll be up to.

NPC AI

Don’t worry if you’ve never used Unity before – load the free version of the software on to your laptop from the Unity website – and bring yourself along to our meetup. It’s very laid back and great fun as we stumble along together learning how to make things work with Ben.

Tonight! First Tuesday April 2016

There’s never enough time to do AND document. Still need to write up last #FirstTuesday & it’s time for another one!

We have another practical session planned – suitable for beginners too – with the very patient and clever Ben Pitt from Unity. We are going to look at AI/navmesh and don’t worry if that sounds like gobbledigook, Ben is very good at explaining things. Last month we played around with particles and if I was on the pc laptop I would share a screenshot of my teddy bear that puffs out little rainbow cloudlets when you click on it. My excuse is I thought the grandchildren would find it highly amusing, I know I did.

So, head over to the Grrrl Games meetup and join us this evening. All you need to bring is a laptop with Unity installed. Crisps welcome too.

Yes we’re back: First Tuesday 2016

Spurred on by Jess managing to blog from the Antipodes I thought I should write something too. It is our first First Tuesday of 2016 tonight so we’ll be back at Bristol Games Hub at 7pm. (A slightly later start in 2016 as I now work tuesdays til 6.15 and then have to race across town to let people in.)

Tonight we will be focusing on playing a couple of games – Jenny’s board game & Claire’s online text-based adventure that started as her teaching herself to code and is now a wonderfully inventive piece of work complete with pixel gif animations.

We had a look at both of these very different games back in December when a small but lively bunch of us met at Watershed for pre-Xmas sociable drinking and getting to know each other. Always great to meet new women with lots of ideas and talents and get them talking. That’s a lot of what we are about here at Grrrl Games. So as well as sharing outrageous stories and admiring new tattoos we did talk about the games. Jenny brought along the Space board game she made as part of her Uni course as she wanted some feedback on it – absolutely beautifully crafted piece of work (hand-carved in stone and then 3D printed spaceships!!) that I hope to learn to play this evening at our January First Tuesday.

Jenny's game

Claire is bringing the latest version of her game too for us to play as well. I’ll ask if I can share some screenshots of her latest crop of animated animals.

 

June meetup: Watch games, 7 Questions & teaching yourself to code

Pokemon meets Final Fantasy in Claire’s text adventure

We had such a good meetup last night – shared projects, discussed some future plans and decided to make a game, it’s all happening!

Developing games for smartwatches

We talked about developing for different platforms and were thinking about how games could work on smart watches.

None of us own one yet, so we weren’t aware of what was out there already and thought it was a fairly niche platform that will potentially not grow into much – here’s a couple of articles on the topic:

Can an Android Wear smartwatch play games, however? Sure it can! Android Wear smartwatches pack powerful processors, sufficient amounts of storage, and enough RAM to handle some light gaming. Although we’re pretty sure that gaming was one of Android Wear engineers’ last priorities…

–> Best games for Android watch

From location-based adventures to digital pets that live on your wrist, Apple’s arrival could enliven the idea of playing games on a smartwatch…

–> Games for Apple watch

Developers talk a lot about play patterns on smartwatches, and particularly the fact that people won’t be squinting at their wrists for long gaming sessions. Or even medium-length ones for that matter.

Virapen talks about “games for playing in a hundred five-second sessions a day” for example, while Petri Järvilehto, chief creative officer for Best Fiends developer Seriously, talks about games existing “in your peripheral vision” throughout the day.

–> Developers on Apple watch games

7 Questions plus 1

Constance and I shared our old idea for 7 Questions – a series of interviews with women from the games industry. It was suggested we add an 8th question about how people get into making games eg was it a course, working for a company, or just building games in your spare time.

The idea is to show women as many options as possible to develop their own pathways into games

On the back of this, we’re very pleased to have the a new set of answers from pie-maker turned awesome indie games developer Ana Ribera! I’ll post these up tomorrow…

Teaching yourself to code

Claire shared her work-in-progress text adventure game she’s making using Microsoft Visual Studios, whilst learning to code in C#.

She’s been following the free tutorials on Channel 9 and has written almost 2000 lines so far, including battle sequences and maps in this Pokemon meets Final Fantasy game.

Going to be great to follow the development and hopefully get a chance to test it over the next few months.

Geek Girl Dinners

Wanted to draw attention to another meetup for women in Bristol – Geek Girl Dinners is a social and networking group for women who are interested in science, technology, engineering and other geeky things.  They run a monthly meetup in Bristol at various locations with food and wine – the next one is yet to be announced, but join the meetup group to keep in the loop.

Next meetup

Next meetup is already in the calendar for July 7th! We’re going to start making something… Not sure what yet, but may borrow a recent Ludum Dare theme ‘Unconventional weapon’. A starting point anyway and more to come soon!

Attention grrrl gamers: Future meetups, workshops & events

A still from Lux and the Shadowmaker, the game currently being developed by Constance
A still from Lux and the Shadowmaker, the game currently being developed by Constance

So, our first meetup wasn’t the greatest success as a lot of you weren’t actually able to make it in the end 😦

However, Constance and I still used the time to push forwards with plans and think about what we’d like to do in the future

1. Another meetup?

We would still like to have a meetup where we actually meet everyone interested – next date is May 12th!

2. A Unity workshop!

We’re currently speaking to the guys at Unity about setting up a workshop as an intro to the programme – this could act as a refresher if you haven’t used it for a while, an introduction if you’re thinking of using it for future projects, or for fun, because learning new stuff is cool.

This workshop will hopefully run in May, on a Tuesday evening after work.

3. More workshops!!

We want to do more of these workshops – currently thinking one on sound and music for games in June and another on Unreal in July. If anyone knows of someone who could facilitate these – please let us know!

4. Network

Another thing we’d like to get from this meetup community is exactly that, a community! So if you’re going to an expo, speaking at something, putting and event on – we’d like you to feel like you can ask us along. To get things going, Constance will be presenting her current game-in-development at the next Bristol Unity – more info here.

5. Over to you

We wanted to use the first meetup to see what people might want from future ones… What do you want to make? Are there other things you would like to learn? Are there games you want to play?

Personally, I want to do a screening of this film. I’m just waiting for it’s release 🙂

We’re also going to restart our 7 questions posts – check out previous ones here – would you like to respond to them? Let us know!

First Tuesday

Kicking off on Tuesday April 7th and kindly hosted by Bristol Games Hub, First Tuesday is Grrrl Games regular meet-up evening in Bristol, an informal get-together for women interested in games to talk about what we are making, what we want to make and maybe even make something. We’ll meet at 6 for 6.30 ’til 8pm and then quite probably move along elsewhere for food/drinks.

We don’t have sponsorship for drinks/snacks so feel free to bring something along if you want more than instant coffee.

Sign up through our Meetup page!

Xmas spirit-fuelled game plan session

So, Xmas. Love it? Hate it? Baking mince pies for the freezer already? Want to take a flamethrower to the decorations going up in your local supermarket?

To celebrate the festive season Her Game Collective want to use our regular get together to make up a game about Xmas. There may be a little bit of prosecco to fuel our ideas, in which case we may not get past the paper planning stage. If you want to suggest which elements of Xmas we should do things to in a game then please come along on Monday 9th December from 6.30-8.30ish to Bristol Games Hub in Stokes Croft.

We will also be sharing our plans for 2014.

If you sign up here we will know to expect you at the Games Hub front door and can come down and let you in.

And we might even save you a glass of something.

 

This week! Narrative and text adventure workshop

best-text-adventures-interactive-fiction-adventure-1976

So it’s already been two months since our last meetup and time really has flown! However, we’re ready to host our next workshop this week with the theme of narrative design and text adventure.

Narrative is a key element of game design and to help us explore it’s role and importance will be Hazel Grian, a media storyteller who has worked on countless projects, including Alternate Reality Games for movies such as Star Trek, interactive drama series Kate Modern and zombie street game  2.8 Hours Later.

As usual we’ll kick off the evening with a show and tell, a chance for us to share what projects we’re working on or any exciting new things we’ve been a part of over the last couple of months. Following that, we’ll look at some free online tools that can be used to make text-adventure games and then on to the practical bit where we’ll actually make one!

The meetup will take place this Thursday (12th) at the Pervasive Media Studio, which is situated in the Watershed, Bristol. We’ll start at 6.30pm and usually go until about 8 with some light refreshments, predominantly, but possibly not limited to, biscuits. Hope to see you there!