Chat with Giraffe Town indie develop

Giraffe Town

I read a tweet this week that placed a huge smile on my face 🙂
@snowconesolid was celebrating with his family and friends for the release of his latest game Giraffe Town: “Take control of a giraffe who has had enough of being held back in life by his weird feet as you slide your way through the town in a courageous pursuit of love.”

As soon as I took a look at this game I wanted to know more, and the talented dev was happy to share. So here is Samer’s inspiring story and after reading this, I think you’ll be motivated to give Giraffe Town a try 🙂

Tell me a little about yourself

My name is Samer Khatib. Some might know me as “Snowconesolid” which, is my online name that I use as like a developer name or my “persona” I suppose. I am a solo independent game developer. I’ve always been super passionate about video games and art in general and have always loved creating things regardless of what tools or materials I have at my disposal. When I was younger, I always loved creating things like short comics, sculpting really weird shitty things out of play-doh, and making stuff like statues and props out of cardboard and paper and whatever else I could find. I just enjoyed making things. Video games have had a huge influence on me. They are really what sparked my imagination and interest in art and they just have played such a major role in my life. Especially when I was younger. Every game I would play would feel like a portal into another world and I always became so immersed and into whatever it is that I was playing. I loved being taken away to all these different worlds and just being so invested in whatever was happening.

giraffe Town foggy road

How did you get into game design?

I knew that I wanted to make games pretty much my whole life. When it came time for me to go to college, of course, I wanted to go into game design. I love technology and I love art. And I wanted to make art using technology. However, the university I attended didn’t offer such a program at the time. So, I ended up enrolling in a computer science program. The courses had us focus on programming things like boring business applications. The material being taught felt very outdated and would probably never be used outside of the classroom. Attending classes started to take a toll on me because everything just felt so forced. I hated it and It started to feel like a huge waste of time for me. I just wanted to learn how to make games. Not figure out how to do some binary assignment. I wanted to use technology as a creative outlet. Not write a program that some accountant would use. It eventually got to the point where I started skipping classes and spending my time in the library researching and teaching myself game development. With nothing but some old books and my really shitty laptop, this was the real starting point for me. Long story short, one thing lead to another and then I eventually dropped out of college to pursue my dream of becoming a game developer.

Is this your first game?

Over time I probably created like 25-30 (maybe even more) really shitty games. Some are still available, floating around online and others are just lost forever on old misplaced hard drives. Each game I made felt like a new experience and process for me and I learned so much just by constantly working on projects. I really believe in the idea of “in order to get good at something, you just have to keep doing it over and over again.” Over the years I have learned 3d modeling, texturing, rigging, sound design, using a game engine, building gameplay mechanics, creating builds and so on. The list keeps going. I have learned almost everything that I wanted to learn in order to become a game developer and to be able to make games on my own and I’m very proud of that.

I have come such a long way from when I first started making games and I think that really shows when you take my newest game “Giraffe Town” and compare it to something I did many years ago. I know this is going to sound cheesy but, I really do believe that people can accomplish anything they want if they just put their minds to it and are super passionate about what they do. Just keep working hard on yourself and don’t lose focus of your dream. That’s all that matters.

Can you tell me more about Giraffe Town

Giraffe Town is a game that constantly and intentionally cranks up the difficulty level the further you get into it. Yes, it’s a goofy rage game with some really ridiculous ideas in it, but really at its core, “Giraffe Town” is a game about finding success. It’s a game about not giving up no matter what is tossed at you. It’s a game about having patience and constantly pushing through no matter how rage-inducingly hard the game gets. The game’s main message is about getting back up. The game lets you know that it’s okay to fall and fail. You just can’t give up. You have to keep trying and eventually, once you get the hang of everything, you can accomplish anything. “Giraffe Town” is super hard, but it isn’t impossible. Just like finding success.

The long, foggy, winding, broken road level in “Giraffe Town” which is one of the first main sections of the game, really symbolizes the long, winding, broken and unclear road or path to success that we all take on in our daily lives in order to achieve our dreams. We don’t know how long the road will be. There are many holes and broken sections in the road which symbolize the little roadblocks and issues we run into in our daily lives that try to slow us down or keep us from reaching the end or finding success. The foggy-ness represents the unclear path we are taking. We all have dreams and want to pursue them, but often, it feels risky and we really have no guarantee because we can’t see it clearly. We know what we want, but we can’t see what we want clearly right in front of us. As players go further and further down the road, the weather conditions also start changing becoming gradually worse. This symbolizes that the closer we get to finding success or achieving our dreams, things seem to get harder and more complicated. So, that’s just one of the levels of the game.

Wow that’s inspiring man!

There is much more, but in order not to spoil it, I’ll leave it at that. “Giraffe Town” is a game that really comes from the heart and I am super proud of it. It’s almost like a part of me and I am very glad and grateful that I am able to put this game out there and just let it exists among all the other weird stuff the internet has to offer.

With “Giraffe Town”, I wanted to create a certain feeling of this lingering dread and depression while at the same time maintaining a comedic personality.
It’s a hellish rage horror game that pushes you to your limits. But ultimately, I wanted to take all of that and create something that is actually really beautiful and inspiring in the end.
That was my goal for this game. Did I accomplish that? That’s up to the players to decide. I did, however, love every second spent working on this game.

So, why should you buy “Giraffe Town”?

You should buy it because it is the greatest game of all space and time!
In all seriousness though, I really do think that it’s something different and unlike any other game out there at the moment.
It’s an experience with a deeper message behind it. So those are the reasons you should buy “Giraffe Town”.

Also, some money would be nice… I mean… So that I could keep making games and such…

GO BUY MY GAME!
GIRAFFE TOWN AVAILABLE NOW ON STEAM!
BUY IT: GIRAFFE TOWN STEAM

Thanks for your time Samer, please subscirbe to his twitter feed and give Giraffe Town a try 🙂

Tears of A Dragon

Via Twitter I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the talented indie developer Donovan Bell (@Savage__Dragon), creator of the cool Tears of A Dragon RPG published on Steam

Sad to say that I don’t currently have time to invest into playing through a role play game, although I’ll certainly add Tears of A Dragon to my games to complete list 🙂
A review from me wouldn’t have been fair or done Donovan’s work justice, so instead I asked him a few questions to share to give others a background in both the game and the devs history.

Tears Of A Dragon Family

Tell me a little about yourself, and why you chose the medium of an old school rpg to share your story with the World:

So Old school RPGS were games I grew up with, the likes of the early Final Fantasy games 1 – 6, Chrono Trigger and similar. It reflects where the birth place of my gaming love is. As for myself, I’m 31 years old. I work full time as a website and app developer for an estate agent. I had a dream when I was 14 years old.. The thought of “Wouldn’t it be cool to be in a video game”. I never expected to have the skill or anything like that to ever make one though. Erm as for more about me.. I’m married and have a daughter.. Both of which love gaming also. I’ve been a youtuber for about 5 years now too sitting currently at 345 subscribers. I also have a Patreon page where people can donate a monthly amount and even get their characters created in my game in future updates etc.

Is Tears of A Dragon your first game, did you learn as you developed?

Yes this is my first game. I had to learn Ruby as a coding language in order to do any scripting for the game due to the nature of the engine I used to develop it. I have a basic level of design and development, but this is my first time designing characters, bios, stories for them etc along with a world to explore etc.

Did you pre-write the story, conversations?

Actually no.. It was all born in my head as the story progressed, I went with what felt natural and what messages I wanted to convey. The fact the game is based on my real life.. The people I’ve met, the relationships I’ve had, my own self doubts and darkness.. I feel alot needed to be said within the game to help explain just what it’s like to try and be “normal” while having such a darkness inside you (that darkness being my depression).

Any particular influences; games, artists, writers or musicians

Erm.. No major influences really, games wise Like I mentioned before, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Legend of Dragoon, similar JRPGs were a big part of my childhood gaming experience. Music, well my taste is very much in the rock and metal genre with nods to classical and orchestral power ballads etc. So that was a large influence on my musical choicses for the game. A lot of inspiration came from my favourite composer Nobuo Uemetsu, famous for the Final Fantasy franchise as the lead composer etc.

Tears Of A Dragon Battle

So games; what’s your favourite, last one you completed, last one you bought, what are you currently playing?

Favourite game of all time will always be Final Fantasy VII. I identify so much with Cloud Strife it’s insane. Always trying to be the very best that everyone else needs you to be while not letting others down. Always seeking to protect others when you can barely protect yourself. Last game I physically completed was something very against the grain to my usual gaming and that’s Rayman Legends on the PS4. Last game bought, I literally picked up Elder Scrolls Online for PS4 yesterday so I’m excited to see what that has to offer. Currently playing through God of War, The Last Guardian and Bloodborne at the moment. Still fairly new to the PS4 scene and loving every second of it.

Why would I play Tears of A Dragon?

I’d like to think that Tears of a Dragon has a strong message.. One about Depression as an illness or anything that makes you feel as though you have demons inside of you mentally. To convey that you don’t always have to fight alone.. and that asking for help is ok. Sometimes it’s really hard to explain what depression feels like to someone who doesn’t fully understand it.. It’s not just about feeling sad about your life.. But instead it can be about feeling nothing at all towards anything..

What did you learn building it, any haha moments?

I learnt that game building is hard… But with enough support and people rallying behind you, anything is possible. With the support of my family, my friends and my publisher, I saw a childhood dream from 15 years ago see reality and there is no greater feeling.
As for haha moments… I would say enjoying turning some of my closest friends into video game persona’s was a lot of fun.. Especially when embedding dialogues which nod to different things from our real life encounters.. Always makes any of us laugh as we get the… “Oh yeah!” moments when experiencing them again in the game.


Thanks again for your time on this Donovan, and please anyone who is interested pick up for Tears of a Dragon on Steam for less than 5 Euros!

first techy projects of 2017

Status

Things I’m playing with over the Xmas NY break 🙂

  • installed KDE desktop, not sure why I haven’t tried it before, although I did try Mate a few weeks ago that I can’t get to work correctly
  • excited about season 2 of Street Fighter V I’ve reinstalled it on the PS4, and I’m more frustrated and annoyed by Capcom’s servers than ever
    • repetatively the server connection keeps dropping, the only solution I can find is to close the game and re-load
    • the novelty of getting to practice with Akuma wore off quite quickly, I couldn’t even find a single game 🙁
  • I’m excited about Elite: Dangerous coming the the PS4 this year, although not sure I can be motivated to put the hours in again, and I don’t think Commanders will be able to migrate over saved profiles
  • currently downloading the one game I’ve purchased on Steam Kerbal Space Program yet again.
    • I’ve just searched and found that it’s already available for the PS4… not sure how I missed this!

I needed to use this guide to get Steam to load on Ubuntu 16.04

rm ~/.steam/steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/i386/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libstdc++.so.6
rm ~/.steam/steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/amd64/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libstdc++.so.6

Steam OS

Steam OS
After reading this post on Reddit about the unboxing of a Steam Machine, I’m very eager to see how well my own Linux machine will handle the Steam OS.

All boxes below ticked, except for the NVIDIA graphics card.

I’m hoping that the Steam OS will be the catalyst to get AMD drivers sorted for Linux… we can all dream 😉

I wonder how much the controllers will then cost?

What do you need to run SteamOS? Here's the hardware list from the FAQ:

  • Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • 4GB or more memory
  • 500GB or larger disk
  • NVIDIA graphics card (AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon)
  • UEFI boot support
  • USB port for installation


Info from Gamespot

Steam into Space

Space Hulk

And this time I’m not posting about KSP, although I am enjoying the new 0.21 updates

Space Hulk is available on pre-order from Steam, release date 15th August.

This was the board game that won over causal players, the ones who would watch you play a game of Blood Bowl, but would never commit to rolling up a team.

The Space Hulk scenarios were quick and fun, not too much role play, but plenty of dice rolling action. I always enjoyed how you could play the same game twice, once as the well armed brave mutant marines, and then as the Genestealers. Using holes that your opponent had missed in the last round, to reap vengeance on his plastic models.

I have vague recollections of the first time Space Hulk made it to the CRT screen, released by EA, who were still regarded as cool in the early 90’s. Being a fan of practically every Games Workshop title, a subscriber to White Dwarf, and enjoyed the top down turn based genre defined by Laser Squad this release was a sensation; no more having to set up the board and recruit mates into playing a game. I could just load up a few floppies and derelict space ships awaited!

Here’s a cool review of the original from Rock Paper Shotgun.

The only thing I’m not too happy about is that it’s not being released on Linux, although I can understand the cash incentive to release it on the iPad, and it just means I’ll have to try Steam on Wine

Continue reading

Steam into space with Linux

KSP
Rating: ★★★★½
My first endeavor into space and linux gaming, and I’m loving it!

I did pick up a couple of PS3 games to play last week… but I’ve forgotten what they were (Yakuza 3, buggered if I can remember the other :)) all of my gaming, and blogging time has been taken up playing with rockets. 😀

So if you haven’t guessed yet, I’ve been enthralled with the Kerbal Space Program

KSP is a game where the players create and manage their own space program. Build spacecraft, fly them, and try to help the Kerbals to fulfill their ultimate mission of conquering space.

wikipedia – Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program (commonly abbreviated KSP) is a sandbox-style space flight simulator game, currently in development for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. The first public alpha version was released on June 24, 2011 and updates have been continually released since. Players assume command of the space agency of the planet Kerbin and are responsible for tasks including mission planning, rocket design, and space navigation and piloting. Though there are no formal objectives, the implied goal is for players to successfully let Kerbal astronauts explore the solar system. Kerbal Space Program supports game mods and has an active modding community. It can be purchased through Steam and the official Kerbal Space Program website.

Never before has rocket science been so much fun!

The Kerbal World is similar to ours; with oceans, continents, and polar ice caps, although a little smaller (10.9 times smaller). The inhabitants seem to have the same dream as the Earth dwellers of the 60’s, how to get off of this rock and explore space.

And the space around them is rich and varied, with 7 (plus Kerbal) celestial bodies to explore + moons!

The learning curve can be steep, but a satisfying challenge, helped along by a wealth of wiki articles, a Kerbal community, and youtube tutorials.

I nearly lost Kerb-a-naut Bill Kerman earlier. He went out on a risky space walk, for no other reason than because he could. Bill just steeped mindlessly into the abyss of space, to cast his spacesuit clad body into a near permanent orbit… I don’t blame him, I’d like the opportunity to end my days in a similar fashion. Although personally I couldn’t deal with losing one so young, this early in my space management career, so I followed the only noble path, and reverted to an earlier save.

Don’t get me wrong, many a Kerbal have passed to the other side in a ball of flames only seconds from the launch pad, others have drowned trapped in capsules that have sunk into the sea. But I just couldn’t handle the stress of launching other ships past the stratosphere, knowing that Bill would be floating out there, beyond my skill level to bring him back safely to the heroes welcome he deserves.

So that was just another what if scenario, in the could be world of gaming sprites.

steam on ubuntu

Status

I’m shocked, you hear stories, how a steam console could be linux based.
An then the day arrives when I can install Steam on Ubuntu.

This is a game changer, lets hope the AMD graphic card support gets better