Recent posts by Eketek on Kongregate

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Topic: Kongregate / Selling out?

When you watch one of those ads attached to a “free” online game (and nothing else), you are, in effect, paying its developer a fraction of a penny for the game. That’s if the website which is hosting the game either uses revenue sharing or is hosting the game in a manner which actually respects the third-party advertising network which is integrated into the game (if present).

Generally speaking, selling the game at .2 cents a copy isn’t actually a great business plan, unless the developer simply intends to go broke (or was only doing it as a hobby to begin with). If it is the sort of game which can make a profit anyway (well known, broad appeal, and lots of millions of plays across the Internet), chances are the developer has much better options available to get money out of his work (such as selling you the rest of the game a a little bit at a time or advertising paid/complete versions of his games).

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Why so much Idle?

I speak both as a long-time player of games on this site and as a developer who recently had a major project get thrashed in terms of ratings and plays by random “idle” and “clicker” games. It was very baffling when it occured (since reason suggested to me at the time that there was very little credible competition). It became astonishing over the next few days as I got out from under the rock I’ve been living under, to see just how popular the new and somehow ground-breaking genre had become. If it where games that had some plausible reason to do better than mine (such as better presentation, better execution, or something more amusing), it wouldn’t bother me at all, because then I could actually believe it was something I did wrong (and can deal with and learn from).

I decided that my complete opinion and speculation about the trend is best kept to myself, and that instead of staying disappointed and silent, that I should ask for more reasonable options for discovery and interaction (contextually relevant ratings and an officially sanctioned place for developers to promote their own games).

I don’t expect anyone to care about what I have to say, though I do think Kongregate will have to eventually do something about the spam submissions clogging the new games list and the absurd number of non-games getting front-paged if they want to stay relevant.

Of course… If, as the ratings say, the crowd really believes that great games have them all clicking a left mouse button 4.93e54 times per day for precious progress & achievements, then my proposal would actually serve them well, since Kongregate would try to recommend to them what they like, and, if that’s not enough, they could go to an idle-games promotion forum to see who has the best pitch.

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Why so much Idle?

There’s a problem with blame-the-devs-for-this: The developers of the games which are worth playing generally will give you a reasonable and terse description and meaningful screenshots. However, those developers also have no effectual means to control spam on that list. Do you know how far back you have to browse on that list to get at a game which was released as recently as 8 days ago? Are you patient enough to do that, or would you prefer just to trust the virtually unaccountable opinions of whoever the initial raters were at the time? (Keep in mind, unless the developer has a strong following or a well-known game reviewer plugging his work, those early raters are the ones who decide what goes into the “Hot New Games” list and what remains obscure)

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Why so much Idle?

Originally posted by bobby71983:
Originally posted by Eketek:
Originally posted by bobby71983:

Lack of people making good non-idle games. Not much kong can do about it.

There are great non-idle games out there to be found. Even recent ones. Finding them, however, is likely a matter either of patience and frustration (if you do it yourself and don’t know where to look) or of randomness (if you’re instead counting on developers to have a strong following), since it takes far more time and effort to make a decent game than it does to spam the new games list with junk.

Been saying it for years, but kong staff suck horribly at advertising and is in serious need of someone who actually knows how to make efficient use of space. There is no reason at all that you couldn’t fit the 50-100 most recent games on a single page, and have another page that lists the 50-100 most highly rated games released in the last x period of time. They have shown no interest in this though.

If I was a developer, I can say for a fact that kong would not be my first choice for a site to upload a game too. They seem to have stepped away from a games focus, and I would want to upload to a site that is more focused.

Increasing the number of games visible on recent games pages isn’t actually going to do much. It just means more mouse wheel & scrollbar action and a bit less clicking to deal with the results we currently get.

What would actually be useful is have games rated against other games within applicable genres, rather than against everything on the site. It would be much more useful to have the site try to tell me how good a particular game is, as a platformer or as a logic puzzle, than what the majority of people think about it generally.

 
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Topic: Kongregate / Why so much Idle?

Originally posted by bobby71983:

Lack of people making good non-idle games. Not much kong can do about it.

There are great non-idle games out there to be found. Even recent ones. Finding them, however, is likely a matter either of patience and frustration (if you do it yourself and don’t know where to look) or of randomness (if you’re instead counting on developers to have a strong following), since it takes far more time and effort to make a decent game than it does to spam the new games list with junk.

Take some time to wade through that new games list and see how long it takes before you give up (or at least feel like doing so). That should tell you pretty clearly what happens to developers to aim for quality (unless there are some significant changes forthcoming).

 
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Topic: Kongregate / April '15 Suggestion Thread

Since you’re asking for forum features, I have one to request!

I would like to see a forum which is set up for and which expressly encourages self-promotion by game developers, so that I can more effectively promote my work here. Ideally, this should also have genre-specific subforums (or maybe even “tag”-specific, for some more narrow targeting).

 
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Topic: General Gaming / Stop making idle games

Originally posted by girido:

This is kinda my point. Any kind of game can be good or bad. Sturgeon’s Law you know?

Just what do you suppose these idle games are, but attempts to take the worst aspects of other games, strip out any existing gameplay (or at least make sure it doesn’t get in the way), and monetize peoples’ addition?

 
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Topic: General Gaming / Stop making idle games

Originally posted by girido:
Originally posted by Eketek:
Originally posted by girido:
Originally posted by Eketek:
Originally posted by girido:

1. Right now, yeah cookie clicker lacks strategy, but the beta introduces a reincarnation system, with a large upgrade tree. To reincarnate, you must lose all your progress. As you progress through the world tree, you can keep three upgrades as permanent, no more, introducing a lot of strategy in that decision.

2. Uh no, it’s precisely because the numbers are infinite strategy is necessary. If you just let it progress on your own, you will be outstripped by people with better strategies, since these games usually progress in real time. News flash: Real time progresses the same for everyone. So unless you put in a though, you will always be behind, no matter how long you leave it running.

Without any substantive gameplay, the number of “strategies” gets reduced to a grand total of 1 once you put together a spreadsheet and start objectively evaluating the effects of the available decisions. At which point, you might as well be watching an incrementer progress.

Actually, what strategy is best depends on anumber of factors like: How often will I be able to get to this? or: Is my goal to have the most cookies or to get cookies quicker? Also, cookie clicker has multiple things that depend entirely upon reflexes. If you pretend like reflexes don’t count, then almost any game is just ‘putting together a spread sheet and start objectively evaluating the effects of the available decisions’ Also, there are a couple dozen top tier upgrades to chose from. With only three slots, you still end up with like 6,000+ combinations to consider, as well as the question of whether to reincarnate yet, since you don’t know whether you’ll be there to nurse your industry back to greatness. Just like in anything, it’s all risks, rewards, and reflexes.

A spreadsheet can tell you all this and more – whether you should upgrade and wait, or whether you should take your bonus and restart (and which bonus to take). If you’re playing the sort of game that plays itself, the task of setting up the spreadsheet is probably going to be more fun than the game itself (then it becomes just another grind once all that remains is spreadsheet maintenance).

Also, if you enjoy tests of reflexes, you don’t actually need a Skinner Box for it – there are much better games available for that.

In cookie clicker at least there are lots of different things based on an algorithm, making a spreadsheet kind of useless. But fine, even algorithms can be figured out and put on the spreadsheet. By that standard, most classic RPGs are just one strategy. In fact, due to the influence of real time, an idle game has more random events to consider than classic RPGs: Every single thing that happens throughout your day, influencing whether or not you get to the computer in time. Do you play it safe and assume you do? Or do you go all in and expect to be their exactly when you think you will?

For similar reasons, if their developers aren’t careful, RPGs (or any other sort of game) easily end up becoming a pointless hassle. Ever play one and get annoyed by a random battle sequence? Or the next one, or the next, or the 1200 or so more recurrences before the game finally shows you some sort of victory sequence?

You probably don’t care too much about my opinion of any game which tries to dictate your schedule.

 
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Topic: General Gaming / Stop making idle games

Originally posted by girido:
Originally posted by Eketek:
Originally posted by girido:

1. Right now, yeah cookie clicker lacks strategy, but the beta introduces a reincarnation system, with a large upgrade tree. To reincarnate, you must lose all your progress. As you progress through the world tree, you can keep three upgrades as permanent, no more, introducing a lot of strategy in that decision.

2. Uh no, it’s precisely because the numbers are infinite strategy is necessary. If you just let it progress on your own, you will be outstripped by people with better strategies, since these games usually progress in real time. News flash: Real time progresses the same for everyone. So unless you put in a though, you will always be behind, no matter how long you leave it running.

Without any substantive gameplay, the number of “strategies” gets reduced to a grand total of 1 once you put together a spreadsheet and start objectively evaluating the effects of the available decisions. At which point, you might as well be watching an incrementer progress.

Actually, what strategy is best depends on anumber of factors like: How often will I be able to get to this? or: Is my goal to have the most cookies or to get cookies quicker? Also, cookie clicker has multiple things that depend entirely upon reflexes. If you pretend like reflexes don’t count, then almost any game is just ‘putting together a spread sheet and start objectively evaluating the effects of the available decisions’ Also, there are a couple dozen top tier upgrades to chose from. With only three slots, you still end up with like 6,000+ combinations to consider, as well as the question of whether to reincarnate yet, since you don’t know whether you’ll be there to nurse your industry back to greatness. Just like in anything, it’s all risks, rewards, and reflexes.

A spreadsheet can tell you all this and more – whether you should upgrade and wait, or whether you should take your bonus and restart (and which bonus to take). If you’re playing the sort of game that plays itself, the task of setting up the spreadsheet is probably going to be more fun than the game itself (then it becomes just another grind once all that remains is spreadsheet maintenance).

Also, if you enjoy tests of reflexes, you don’t actually need a Skinner Box for it – there are much better games available for that.

 
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Topic: General Gaming / Stop making idle games

Originally posted by girido:

1. Right now, yeah cookie clicker lacks strategy, but the beta introduces a reincarnation system, with a large upgrade tree. To reincarnate, you must lose all your progress. As you progress through the world tree, you can keep three upgrades as permanent, no more, introducing a lot of strategy in that decision.

2. Uh no, it’s precisely because the numbers are infinite strategy is necessary. If you just let it progress on your own, you will be outstripped by people with better strategies, since these games usually progress in real time. News flash: Real time progresses the same for everyone. So unless you put in a though, you will always be behind, no matter how long you leave it running.

Without any substantive gameplay, the number of “strategies” gets reduced to a grand total of 1 once you put together a spreadsheet and start objectively evaluating the effects of the available decisions. At which point, you might as well be watching an incrementer progress.

 
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Topic: Kongregate / What do you like about Kongregate. And what Do you dislike

In many ways, the way Kongregate is presently structured doesn’t do much to help you, even if everyone is playing fair and ratings & badges really reflect what the community in general thinks (we’re all pretty much guaranteed to disagree with each other). This could be improved significantly, if ratings where also contextualized (such that games would be rated against other games within applicable genres, rather than against everything on the site).

If you want better games, my recommendation is to mostly ignore ratings, plays and badges, figure out who the decent developers are, add them as friends, talk with them [and to them], come out to the forum to promote them and their games (otherwise, it’ll have to be self-promotion and obscurity). If you like their work and you can afford it, you should definitely consider buying in-game perks, complete versions of their games, or giving tips — If you don’t, the dev might receive a fraction of a penny for the ads you see (or skip or block), so unless it is a very popular game with millions of views across the Internet… well, I’ll let you guess what happens to everyone else…

 
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Topic: General Gaming / Can you stop with those idle "games"?

The problem, as Eketek perceives it:

New game goes up, and is visible in one place for a short time, then vanishes into obscurity. The audience is whoever is looking at new games over that period. At some point, new Games get a rating. That rating is whatever said audience gives the game.

Who really cares to wade through the new games list? I certainly don’t. I watched the list over a couple days after uploading my latest game: The new games list is packed with junk – idle games (or hastily assembled clones of whatever is trending), “my first” games, various sites dumping entire catalogues of mass-produced games.

The next problem comes about through the one-size-fits-all rating scheme. Suppose you like games which have only niche appeal (or actually are set up as challenges, rather than Skinner Boxes)… Are you going to be able to find those games reliably if you aren’t watching the developer and the initial audience disagrees with you and ends up voting those games down?

I think what’s really needed is a curated list of new games for every niche. Devs would submit games specifically for particular lists and actual people would view it, determine whether or not the developer is truthful and put the effort in, give it a contextual rating and a short review, then pass it on to you (assuming you aren’t already one of the interested & responsible initial reviewers).

 
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Topic: Game Programming / I want to play your game!!

Click and drag gets you complete control over the camera, and a bit of mouse-wheel action to zoom in and out. Zooming all the way in puts you in first-person view (and zooming back out gets you back in third person). You’ll need it for some of the more complex puzzles (although most of those are in the paid version).

 
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Topic: Game Programming / I want to play your game!!

Alright, I’ll bite…

a) Orthot II: http://www.kongregate.com/games/Eketek/orthot-ii
b) 6 years
c) Both comments and private messages are quite fine by me.
d) Practically everything in the game is special, except the UI. Don’t look at that. If you need to use it, close your eyes and blindly click away, like so many recent highly exploitative games want to have you doing…

Orthot II is the 2nd version of my 3d transport puzzle. The concept is fairly simple: Evade, use or abuse a variety of puzzle elements to reach marked goals. My game extends that to three dimensions, using actual 3d elements, rather than 2d elements with 3d rendering. To the best of my knowledge, I was also somehow the first to do so, and while there have been a few entries since I published the first game in 2009, only a few much simpler sorts of games published by others since then.

Orthot II also took an incredibly long time to develop and was done alone with no budget or accountability. A lot of strange design decisions where made, generally with the intent of keeping everything consistent and achievable. At present, I’m trying to figure out how to effectively target the game’s niche.

I also don’t like how virtually every game that has been made is treated as disposable – nice things which get made, published, then become unprofitable and unsustainable (particularly when a high budget is involved in creation), and thus unmaintained and abandoned. I would actually like to work on Orthot II indefinitely (and many of my decisions were made with that in mind).

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Java applets

Oh, if I really wanted to, I could have run the Java plugin under Firefox. It was the many recent random desktop settings and display resets (which came about through automatic updates, which resulted from many of the recently published exploits that rendered Java insecure) that eventually left me annoyed enough to solve the problem by uninstalling it.

I tend to get annoyed about platforms that appear to be mature, but behave like pre-alpha releases, especially when I don’t have any software that requires it.

If I where running a server, and for some reason, I don’t want to use native executables, or I had something maintained by someone else which is Java, then I’d consider using Java. Unless Oracle shows a reasonable level of commitment toward the use of Java on desktops (which would necessitate making it play nice, by default, with whatever a typical desktop PC is supposed to be) I would not recommend it as a platform for the front-end of any games.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Java applets

Java has never played nice with my browser (Chrome), causing many pointless crashes (with system lockups), so I disabled the plugin. Eventually, it started repeatedly coming up with security updates (and, in the process, randomly interrupting whatever I was doing by resetting my desktop theme and my display).

Rather than figure out how to configure those problems away (or whether it even can be done), I uninstalled Java. I would not recommend using Java. I suppose if Oracle ever gets their act together, or they hand it over to someone who can make it play nice by default (or a successful fork overtakes it), maybe I’d consider letting it back on my computer.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Show us a screenshot of what you're working on!

Yes, though the automated texturing is maintained by my voxel engine, so none of the texture information is left in the output data (aside from a simple code which differentiates the different types of voxels present). My general assumption is that anyone using my editor will also use my voxel engine, with a configuration comparable to that of the editor.

Incidentally, my tools where developed with consideration toward a possible Game Creation System, of the old sort of design (which is why there are strange, somewhat superfluous-looking interface buttons in the upper-left corner). For the time being (and to avoid getting completely bogged down with early complexities), I have only implemented what I need for an actual game.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Show us a screenshot of what you're working on!

I recently completed my 3d level editor (for multiple projects). It produces objects and cubic voxels. It attaches things to the sides of those objects and voxels. It colors things freely. It outputs game data, instead of 3d models. It is almost completely controllable by click & drag mouse operations, and in every case, it knows exactly what the mouse is supposed to be pointing at (I like predictability in my software – it means I don’t have to be an “expert” with the tool to use it efficiently).

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why is sex censored more than violence?

Violence is easy to portray and glorify as if it is good, noble, and courageous. It’s nice to think of police taking down a violent criminals, soldiers fighting to protect freedom, or someone standing up to a bully at school.

However, in any one of those scenarios, replacing the violence with sex will completely destroy whatever virtue has been ascribed to the violence. I’ll leave the specifics to your imagination.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Flash vs Unity

Since I have not yet done a lot of work with it, I can’t quite vouch for ease of use, but it only took me a week to go from cursory knowledge of Unity to a bare-bones, but functioning system [implementing an earlier design] that uses Unity for user-input and 3d rendering. (That particular week started when I noticed that Kongregate introduced support for the Unity web plugin. In fact Kongregate managed to indirectly kill two of my private projects that way…)

It was easy for me to learn to use Unity, but I am not quite new to programming or to 3d APIs.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Flash vs Unity

Originally posted by skyboy:
Originally posted by Eketek:

I would absolutely love to see anything resembling a shred of evidence to support that claim.

To develop Orthought ( http://www.kongregate.com/games/Eketek/orthought ), I worked hard to work around some of the limitations of Flash. While I am aware of techniques that could further improve the graphics in that game, no such techniques that I am aware of come anywhere near the improvements I can get by re-writing it to use the Unity Engine.

not currently, no. but there is a beta API, mentioned earlier: Molehill

That IS interesting news…. However, I suspect I’ll have my secret project complete (+ experience with Unity) well before Adobe pushes it past beta.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Flash vs Unity

First off, it was not isometric graphics in that game, but orthographic. Isometric is a fixed perspective which can be quickly rendered with 2d images. My game required transformed 2d images. My game was actually optimized for fixed perspectives, but, since it ran as efficiently as it now does, I implemented the orthographic tweening you see when you load up a level or change the view. (It runs very fast if you aren’t fiddling with the perspective all the time)

Flash does not have a true 3d api. It has 3d transformations, but thats about it. It works well for a few polygons, but once you try to render 3d models or lights or shadows, it falls short. Flash’s “3d” capabilities do not even extend to depth sorting (of any sort).

There are indeed, many optimizations I could have made to the 3d engine I used for that game, but none of them would have legitimately made it a realistic 3d engine. All I can do are minor improvements. I even have a shelved version of the 3d engine which is able to render all levels from orthought from any angle (among other improvements). However, it is no faster because its speed is limited primarily by Flash’s ability to composite images. I could also improve my 3d engine with occlusion, but only two of the levels in the game would be significantly improved by it…

Also – the early levels are geometrically very simple.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Flash vs Unity

Originally posted by skyboy:

and on systems with a GPU, flash greatly outclasses unity in 3D: on systems without, they’re going to be about the same. this is assuming that both sides use only one code set; using special case code in unity compared to generic code in flash is a little on the side of “cheating.”.

I would absolutely love to see anything resembling a shred of evidence to support that claim.

To develop Orthought ( http://www.kongregate.com/games/Eketek/orthought ), I worked hard to work around some of the limitations of Flash. While I am aware of techniques that could further improve the graphics in that game, no such techniques that I am aware of come anywhere near the improvements I can get by re-writing it to use the Unity Engine.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Which XML style?

As a general rule, I try to keep my data files as simple as possible. In the case of XML, I prefer to use attributes to define variables and elements to define objects. Based on the simplicity of the declared scenario, I’d go with approach #1.

That said, I’ve lately found it somewhat more expedient to use compressed binary data (optionally base-64 encoded), as much of my recent work involves content generation/validation functions.

 
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Topic: Game Programming / Someone who is a Java developer please reply

It sounds like your jumping the gun on Java – you should probably take the time to learn Java and how games/animations/timed events are usually structured before you make your first game.

Note: You should probably consider using java.lang.Thread instead of javax.swing.Timer.