Clash Royale: Addicting AND Maddening

Since my phone is ancient and useless I have started loving a new large black vibrating device, which of course is my tablet. I am first off ashamed to call myself a mobile developer but not even play the latest games (mainly because of that stupid phone). So catching up to what's "hip" in the mobile market, I decided to download and play Supercell's new game "Clash Royale" which is another game that seems to be addicting, popular, and has a screaming white guy as the icon. I'll say this, Supercell knows what they are doing, because 5 minutes into the training I am having a blast just playing against the computer.

The nutshell of gameplay is that I have 3 towers I am trying to protect while also trying to destroy the other player's 3 towers by placing troop cards onto the battlefield. As my "Elixir" bar fills up, I simply drag a troop card down to an area on the battlefield and it spawns and begins trying to destroy whatever it is programmed to. What's even better is that the game encourages me to join a clan and trade troop cards with each other and after doing it for the first time I get an achievement of a few precious precious game gems which is the currency that I need for EVERYTHING.

Now since I am playing this for 50% entertainment and 50% research I decided to not spend my own money and try to play it completely freemium. I will admit that I am new to this world having human money that turns into game currency A, which turns into currency B, which is used to buy in game items so I can do more.. but my main grievance is was in how I felt misled into spending my game currency A when I didn't need to. And in Clash Royale’s terms that currency is “gems”.  Below is the Battle Select screen where I can decide if I want to play another game as well as decide to open up my delicious booty.. I mean treasure chests. Now the key point here is that I only get a max of 4 chests to hold on to at all times and I want those chests to be opened ASAP. More opened chests means more new cards (unless of course I just want to spend all of my human money).

When the game first gave me my first chest (cuz ya know, I rocked so hard at that first training level that I deserved only the best first treasure chest in the game), it stated the the chest was locked, so like any proud winner desiring the spoils of battle, I wanted to unlock it. It is this moment in time that annoyed me so much because the chest was Locked for "15 secs" and not knowing what that meant, I clicked it. Suddenly I see a 15 second countdown and the words "Open Now" for 5 gems. Well of course I am going to open it now! I don't want to miss my first chance at that sweet sweet loot!! So I did this over and over for the first 5+ chests or so and spent about 25+ gems of my starting pool of 100. Little did I know that what this really meant was "the chest will open up in 15 secs OR I can pay gems to open it now." BAAAA!!! So many gems lost! WHY? WHY DID I DO THIS? WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE READ “This Chest will open in X or If you need to open it now, Pay X” ???!??!?!  …………… well I am going to answer my own question and say that would be much too much copy on the screen. But still, I LOST FAKE MONEY!!!


Am I mad? Nah.

Have I spent any money? Nope.

Is this game super addicting with ninja fast matchmaking, high polish, and great fun thus I am still playing it? no.. YES!

*Sigh* … I have become a monster perhaps my ancient phone was wise and became a piece of crap to protect me... then again my lovely tablet is now always here by my side ensuring that the dopamine is always flowing.


Tiny Dev Blog: Spawning Mercury

Now that there's a Mercury made I'm ready to do something with it. Added a planet to the end of each level, with a delay between the last wave spawning and the planet. For now it's a solid object for the player and everything else passes through it. For now it's something. Also learned that I really messed up on the UI, it always looked fine working on my laptop.


Bonus lesson: if you don't have Blender installed Unity complains about .blend meshes.

Tiny Dev Blog: Making Mercury

Getting in the habit of doing a dev blog after any amount of dev work.

Last night I added a very basic planet Mercury to a space game I've been working on. Got up to a skinned sphere that moves from it's start point to a fixed location (so exciting!)

Beautiful skin made in GIMP by yours truly:

And here it is on a sphere:

And it wouldn't be a dev blog without a code snippet. This one moves the planet to a pre-set spot, so that it moves into the play area after it spawns.

Vector3 toDest = destination - transform.position;
toDest = Vector3.Normalize(toDest) * Time.deltaTime * speed;

With that checking for position.Equals(destination) I was expecting more of a wobble around the destination, but it ended up really smooth.

New Habit Monday: The 20 Min Approach w/ 342 Remaining

That's right, a countdown of 342 Days til GDC'17 has started.

And I, now back to the grind at work am trying a new approach to life. Currently I find myself, like most of us who just got back from GDC'16, full of energy, motivation, and boundless passion towards wanting to create fun. Whether it be Art, Sound, Design, Coding, or Producing we have come back from GDC ready to start on the right foot to make this year count. As a friend just said to me "it's weird that GDC feels like the actual start of the year in a way" and it does. Right you are Justin, today is the start of the year for many of us. So with an overwhelming sensation to make this year count I found myself not being able to sleep last night, wondering over and over "how will I make this year count? how will I ensure I am ready for next year?" There were so many options roaming around in my mind. I could: Draw everyday, Code everyday, Read everyday, Run everyday, Prototype everyday, Eat healthier everyday, etc; which is all very intense to then ask yourself "well, which of these do I do first?" From my past I know first hand that trying to set too many goals all at once is a recipe for failure. Then it hit me, the common denominator in my "Do X Everyday" and it wasn't goal but the duration. What should I be doing "everyday" to ensure this year counts? The answer? To begin timeboxing new goals into 20 min increments. At that is exactly what I did this morning. I got up and early and only snoozed for only 20 mins extra. I then decided to get my butt in gear and go down to the small basement gym in my high rise and then did a short workout for 20 mins which included quick bodyweight exercises, running, and stretching. After showering, I limited myself on social media for only ... yup that's right, only 20 mins while I relaxed and sipped my coffee to the morning sun next to my cats. Now, on my lunch break I am attempting to write this quick blog in under 15 mins so I can then edit it with the remaining 5 to thus complete another 20 min goal. With each Monday going forward I will challenge myself to start a micro habit and always try to stay inside this 20 minute window. So with little time remaining the only thing I haven't talked about is why I came to this specific increment of time. My only logic is that setting myself to 20 minutes means that in an hour I can accomplish about 3 habits each day. Most shows on Netflix are at about 22 minutes and I know I can binge on those easy (especially when Netflix starts the next episode after the intro and asks you to watch another one just as the credits start), so why not timebox myself to that amount for the things I want to accomplish?

NOTE! This 20 minute technique is super simliar to The Pomodoro Technique where you work super focused for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break, and trust me I do it at work and it does wonders for my productivity. Try out today and test it for yourself at work. I guarantee you will be looking at the countdown clock trying to do as much as you can before you take your 5 minute break. I can hear you asking me this now "but Tavi, Pomodoro time is 25 minutes long and yours is 20, why not just do Pomodoro time all day?" Well, that’s because I have so many things I want to do each day so to make it all work I shortened the timeframe. All of these things I want to do is not "work" but something I want to improve myself after working out or being creative for 20 minutes, I don't need break afterwards, I want to instead start another habit.

So wish me luck as I attempt to make this year count and knockout goal after goal with my slight change to a proven productive method. And cut me some slack for typos and grammar, I am rusty when it comes to writing, so eventually a new mirco habit of blog everyday will come around and I will gain more and more experience points in it and because a better blogger.


Ps. here is a photo of my 4 cats.. because CATS!

the cats have assembled



It's All Mental

This past weekend I flew to Seattle and meet up with an old college buddy and run a ToughMudder(TM) with him. It was my sixth course, his second.

TMs are 10 mile + obstacle courses. Obstacles such as climbing over 10ft tall walls, mud, jumping off of 12ft drops into water, more mud, barbed wire, fire, still more mud, and grand the finale of running through a short gauntlet of live electrical wires.

When you describe a TM to anyone who hasn’t heard of it, the response is usually: “Why the hell would you do that?” Honestly I didn’t know.

With each finish, you earn a coveted headband and a refreshing, cold beer. When the adrenaline wears off, reality kicks in, and you notice the array of bruises, scrapes, and cuts all over your body, that beer becomes heavenly.

I’ve been obsessed with TM since I ran my first in 2011. Tickets and travelling to each event ain’t cheap. So after 6 of these, today of all days I finally answered the question. Why the hell do I do it?

To finish something.

I keep coming back to the mud to start something and finish it. I don’t care about the headbands anymore. I just want to commit and complete something.

So, why is it so hard to finish developing my games? There is no barbed wire, no voltage, no danger.

It’s all mental.

I’ve said that exact phrase so many times about surviving a TM.

“OMG, 10 miles of running and all those obstacles. Isn’t that intimidating?”

“Nah, it’s all mental, I’ll be fine.”

“Aren’t you scared of getting hurt?”

“No. I’m not going to miss out on something awesome just because there’s a chance of something bad happening to me. That’s just stupid.”

By that same logic, when I look at how I approach game development -- I am stupid.

On the last mile of the course, I told my running mates, “I don’t know if I’ve gotten better at doing these or if these courses have just gotten easier.”

My buddy, who detests all the running in TM, said the same thing to me about developing games: “I just decided to start making and completing a game a week. That was it. I started on Monday and committed to finishing it by Sunday. I didn’t have to make a perfect game, I just need to finish something."

The envy I had upon hearing that...

But then, slowly it dawned on me, why I don’t train so hard for TM any more: I’m no longer afraid of failing.

I will be never be the fastest or strongest TMer, but I will be a finisher -- because I love it. My friend has the same mentality when he starts developing a game. He doesn’t care whether or not it’ll be as popular as Minecraft. He does it because he loves it. He has overcome the fear of failure.

Now it’s up to me to look at game development like I look at TM. It’s all mental.

From the moment I cross the starting line, I must stick to my commitment to finishing. If something is too tough or if I’m starting to burn out, I must remember that have a surplus of friends, resources, and tools to help me get through to the finish line. I can finish making a game because I love making them. I can overcome the fear of failure because it’s all just mental.


Hello World!