I did a presentation for Pecha Kucha (I did a Pecha Kucha style presentation? I have no idea how to use verbs.) and while the presentation itself is me talking over images, I thought it might be fun to show my notes along with the pictures. I just burped these notes out as a guideline. When the actual presentation shows, it will be fun to see how much I said differently. Anyway, the presentation is a neat style. Twenty images, each image twenty seconds. It is a much harder presentation than it would seem, but I did enjoy putting it together.
One. Hi, my name is Eric Koziol and I make games under the label “Let’s Playing.” I teach English and while the name Let’s Playing is quote unquote bad English, I just love the enthusiasm of someone when they say “Let’s whatevering” because it is raw and just spits in the face of the being scared of mistakes. I used to make Let’s Play style videos with a friend under the title but when that stopped happening I decided to use the name for videogames. Because yeah, I love videogames.
Two. Back in 1997 I entered high school expecting to graduate and go towards an English degree and become a writer. My first class ever was introduction to programming and it did not take long for that dream to change. I poured myself into that class and finished all the work in a few weeks. The remaining time the teacher just let me work on my own stuff. I ended up making an RPG that was lost to time and Zip disks. Probably for the best. Three. I was not one of the early Internet kids but I sure loved it. So after picking up FF7 and PS1 with some leftover Xmas money I did some googling and by googling I mean probably alta vista? So yeah, what happened to Final Fantasy 4, 5 and 6 because I knew about 2 and 3. And then I come across this screenshot of Final Fantasy 5 and Japan pretty much became a future destination for me.
Four. So skip a few years of life and that PC gaming teenager is now an Apple fanboy teaching English in Japan. But that old lost RPG haunted me. So I started up coding again, teaching myself how to make iOS apps with a friend in a Starbucks. Every Saturday, coding up apps to learn. Shaking off the rust and getting back into coding. Five. I am driving to work one day and then I see some colors flash in the back of my mind. Blocks are moving around, changing each other when they are activated. I pull to the side of the road jot some stuff down and start coding subaku that night. I showed it off and released last year right before the first BitSummit. It was my first game put up for sale. Felt great. Six. Okay yeah, yada yada. This year! So I began working on this other game which I am not really showing off because I just got stuck working on it. All the ideas are there but it just was not happening. Something was not working and I was not happy with it. Maybe it will go away, maybe I will go back to it. But something happened. Seven. My wife says we need to go pick some things up at the drug store. Family gets in the car but the boy falls asleep on the drive over. I am a bit tired too so my wife goes in to shop and I put the carseat back and begin to nod off. subaku floats into my mind and the pieces start doing different things. Colors are matching with each other and changing into different colors. I am maybe half asleep at this moment. Eight. Suddenly I remember those old sliding puzzle toys and I am like, hmm, well, those sure show up in video games a lot but they tend to be just a digital representation of the toy. What could be different? Well, what if the pieces changed when you matched them? I wake up, grab my space pen and a note card and jot down some stuff. My wife comes back to the car and we go feed her parent’s dogs.
Nine. So I am holding my sleeping son and jotting down more notes, writing all this stuff down. And I feel really alive because this is game design. Ideas just happen and they are kind of your own and kind of just everything you have experienced up to this moment coming together. I just jot down all these ideas and rip up half of the index cards a while later. Some stuff I look through and take up again. Ten. That night I take out some colored beads and start messing with them on my desk. I have no idea what it is about the colors of the rainbow that work in my brain for making games and puzzles, but there is just something soothing about the idea of x number of things working together in y ways. I work out the game’s basic rules by hand and then boot up Xcode and start programming. Eleven. Once the basic rules are in place I start thinking about the theme I want to go with. I am no artist, but the color beads are making me think of rainbows and then the tiles are blocks, so rainblocks. And since I had just been playing Breath of Fire 2 a few days prior the opening scene with the rain was stuck in my head. And I am thinking this all can tie together in a neat little package. So I boot up a sprite editor and start making some stuff to put into the game. Twelve. I grab a little notebook and dedicate it to ideas and the work in progress of the game. It grew fat pretty quickly with all the writing that was going into it. I cannot even begin to over stress how important this sort of style has become for everything in my life. I am not super into Getting Things Done, which is copyright David Co. 2001, I think I am supposed to say, but it really has played a huge part in all of this, well getting my games done. Thirteen. And I am not kidding about using the GTD-like stuff. My desktop is pretty much covered with Xcode for my coding, the simulator for testing and Omnifocus, which is a great piece of software for handling all sorts of tasks and GTD-like stuff. I could probably talk about how great this has been for me for hours, but you can find other people to do that for you better. But really, I would not be making my games without it. Heck, I used it for this presentation. Fourteen. So, anyway I realize I want to go with this blocky style and start quote unquote sketching out ideas. The logo went through a few stages, some of which were completely unreadable, but. All of the text in the game came from this idea and I made it all by hand, pixel by pixel, instead of using someone else’s font. I wanted to give it a real handmade feeling. Fifteen. I suppose I should explain the game a bit right now. Like I said, there is the whole influence from the sliding puzzles and you just tap a block to move it to the empty space. The next block you want to match is always shown to you and that is the only one you can match. You can set up the board so that if the orange blocks are already touching the will match as soon as the red blocks are matched and you’ll get more points for making the combo. Sixteen. I was having fun with the matching but even with a timer I could play for a long time and it needed something else. So I decided on little icons that would appear on the blocks that would do something good or bad when you touched them and disappear without doing anything if you matched its block without touching it. A lock that prevents you from moving the block, the ability to gain more time or lose it if you had to touch that block. The timer can be sped up or slowed down as well. Seventeen. I was going to add a shuffling mechanic to the board but I felt that would slow the game down and it did not really fit. It was raining and I get my son ready and I am looking at his boots and I am like, mud! So I implemented the “muddy” status where all the blocks get covered with mud and you have no idea what color they are until you move or match them. Early on in the game it is cute but later on when more of the special tiles pop up it gets really intense. Eighteen. Like I said, I am no artist but I a real happy with what I did with the background. Originally it was pretty simple but when I was trying to come up with a Japanese name, and I just stuck with rainblocks in the end, I had the whole shrine idea pop in. The shrine’s name is Ame Jingu. Pause for laughter. Okay, no? Well, maybe some people will get a chuckle out of that. Nineteen. So this is currently all me with tons of physical and digital stuff just pouring together to make the game. I am working with Brave Wave to get some music together and if all things go well the game will be out mid-April.
Twenty. That’s rainblocks. It will go up for free, ad-supported with a one dollar, 100 yen, your basic first payable price on the App Store to remove the ads. Removing the ads will change the button to say “I love you.” because I really do. I love everyone who is willing to spend time on something that I created. I hope you’ll all check out rainblocks and have even half as fun playing it as I did making it.