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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekly Summary - Sept 15, 2012

In order to cut down on the number of emails we send out, we decided to try making a weekly digest email that should summarize everything that's happened with the club during the past week. I spent a good amount of time designing these emails to have really nice formatting and an easy-to-follow structure, but then I realized that we really should be posting these summaries onto the website so that incoming members can get a better picture of what's going on in the club as well. Coincidentally, the formatting of this message is also way better now that it's on a website as opposed to in an email.

Table of Contents

  1. Club News
    1. Next Meeting on Monday
    2. Next Game Night on Sept 28
    3. What Talks would you Like to See?
    4. Are you on the Club's New Mailing List?
    5. New Resources Page
    6. We Might Become an Official ECE Club
  2. Project News and Opportunities
    1. IEEE Mortal Kombat Arcade Cabinets
    2. New Club Gaming Server,  Admins Wanted
    3. Microsoft Windows 8 App Challenge
    4. ACM-ICPC, Next Saturday
  3. Facebook Summary
    1. To the Moon, now on Steam
    2. Game Studies - Research Journal
    3. Tough times on the road to Starcraft
    4. Avoiding game crashes related to linked lists
    5. The Six Most Infamous Puzzles In Adventure Game History
    6. Steam Big Picture
    7. 5 Graphic Adventure Game Goofs (and How To Fix Them)
    8. A Call to Arms for Decent Men
    9. Escape From Mount Stupid: Point and Click Adventures
    10. Super Crate Box
    11. Wii U Release Information
    12. Game Development Bibliography
    13. 35 Years of Console Launch Prices
    14. Zynga counters EA's copyright suit with a claim of its own
    15. Learning Games Initiative Research Archive (LGIRA)
    16. Tales from the Video Game Archive
    17. Closure, now on Steam
    18. Microsoft's UofA Page

Club News



Next Meeting on Monday


Our next club meeting will be on Monday, September 17 from 5-6pm in room 105 of the Electrical Engineering building. Here's the plan for next meeting:
  1. Microsoft's Senior Student Partner, Andrew Chaifetz, will be coming in to talk about the Windows 8 App Challenge (more info below). Last time Microsoft held something like this, only a few people entered so a good number of participants walked away with a free phone.
  2. Then we'll do project updates, to give people a chance to display the progress they've made and to talk about any new projects that may have started.
  3. Tyler Wallace will give a brief talk called Intro to Game Development, which will give you a better idea of what it's like to make a game from start to finish.
Christian, our camera guy, is still processing the videos from last meeting. He's mainly working on making the video more watchable by fixing audio issues and cutting it up into smaller videos, which he will then upload to the club's new YouTube account uagamedev.



Next Game Night on Sept 28


The next game night has been scheduled! It will be two weeks from now, on Friday, Sept 28. Just like last time, it'll be in the IEEE room (Electrical and Computer Engineering building, room 105), and it'll start at 5pm. We'll post more information about it as we get closer to the date.



What Talks would you Like to See?


We started a poll on Facebook in which we gathered a bunch of ideas for talks and voted on them. Below is the full list in order from most votes to least votes:
  1. Intro/overview of Game Development
  2. Unreal Engine 3
  3. Intro Prototyping/Rapid Prototyping
  4. Overview of Game-Making Tools
  5. Intro to Unity
  6. Intro to Making and Designing Sound Effects
  7. Intro to GameMaker
  8. Intro to iOS development
  9. Intro to Stencyl
  10. Time Management/Project Management
  11. Project Postmortems
  12. Intro to Game Jams
  13. Intro to Creating Game Art
  14. Career Advice
  15. Intro to Blender 3D Engine
  16. Various advanced Unreal 3 topics
  17. Jordan Wallet's experiences with modding Blockland
  18. Intro to Torque 3D Engine
  19. Intro to Minecraft modding
  20. Intro to Android Development
  21. Intro to plot design
To view the full thread, click here. The results are heavily biased towards the options that were placed first, so the ones at the bottom of the list are usually the newest ones that haven't accumulated many votes yet.

It's also worth noting that someone from Kihon Games may or may not come and give a talk at some point this semester. Earlier this week, I also contacted Extra Credits to see if game designer James Portnow would like to come and give a talk at our university.



Are you on the Club's New Mailing List?


We've sent out a few emails during the last couple of days. If you haven't gotten any of them, then you're probably not on the mailing list. You can subscribe to the mailing list by clicking here and then hitting the subscribe button.

When sending messages to our mailing list, remember that our email is gamedev@list.arizona.edu, and NOT gamedev@email.arizona.edu.



New Resources Page


We've been talking about making a resources page on our website ever since the very beginning of the club in early 2011, so it's about time we finally got one, and while it's technically under construction, at least the basic style and structure of the page have been established so that all we have to do now is fill it with more content.



We Might Become an Official ECE Club


I first mentioned this on our Facebook group (click here to see the original message), but here's a copy of the entire post:
Another idea that I've been discussing with the IEEE is to make the GameDev Club an official ECE club. The ECE department really hasn't been doing very good lately in terms of how many students they have, and while most of the big problems are outside of our control, one thing that we can definitely do is to help strengthen the overall ECE community. A strong student community will go a long way towards making the UofA a more attractive choice for incoming engineering students and towards keeping those students once they get here.

Because of this, ECE figures that the more clubs they have under their department, the better. Plus, we're already pretty well woven into the ECE community, so this would actually give us a good chance to start contributing more back into that community.

If we do become an official ECE club, it's possible that we could end up officially sharing the IEEE room with the IEEE. Our officers would all be given access codes to the room, and the club would hold "open hours" several times a week when anyone can come in to talk about games, get help with their projects, etc. We'd also finally be able to maintain club property because the IEEE room is pretty secure. For instance, we would finally have a place to store a canopy for the club fairs (if we ever buy one). I would also feel better about leaving my Wii and TV there permanently rather than always having to bring it back and forth between the room. And if anyone decides to donate any consoles to the club, we could talk to the ECE department about letting us store them in the secure shelves in the lobbies, which, like the Mortal Kombat project, is another small way of giving the community a stronger presence in the department.

Although, I'm not sure how big of a pain it is for most people to go all the way to the ECE building, especially if you spend most of your time around the Gould-Simpson area. I dunno, CS likes to hold classes in Harvill, so I can't imagine it'd be so bad.

Also, as far as I know, we're already an official CS club and an official SISTA club, and I don't think becoming an ECE club is somehow mutually exclusive in that we'd have to give that up. In fact, there's really nothing "official" about being part of any of those departments, other than the fact that the advisors know about us and our link is on the website.

What do you think about all of this? Is it a good idea?
If you refuse to comment on the idea through Facebook, you can also reply to the weekly summary email on the mailing list.



Project News and Opportunities



IEEE Mortal Kombat Arcade Cabinets


Yesterday, Robbie (the president of the IEEE) sent an email out to the listserv about the IEEE's first meeting. In it, he mentioned a project where they're building a modded version of Mortal Kombat to display in the ECE building's lobby areas. If you want to get involved with that project, attend their first meeting, which will be next week on Friday, Sept 14 at 5:30pm in the IEEE room (Electrical and Computer Engineering building, room 105).

Here's an excerpt from Robbie's email yesterday:
First of all, our first meeting will be this upcoming Friday the 21st at 5:30pm. During this meeting, we will be electing new officers for several unfilled positions we have, and we will be welcoming Maxwell Roth to talk about an upcoming ECE department project in which the department will be making an ECE "Mortal Kombat" style video game and arcade cabinets for the lobby as a promotional piece. This project will involve building two ECE branded arcade cabinet systems for the 2nd and 3rd floor lobby's, as well as making a custom branded video game based off of ECE professors as the characters. This project has already been giving the green light/funding by the department, and Max is looking for people to help build and program the system. If you want more information, be sure to come to the meeting.


New Club Gaming Server, Admins Wanted


As I first posted about on Facebook:
So we got a Steam group, but we really haven't used it much aside from using it to friend each other. Robbie has a server in the ECE building that he's not using much, and he said we could try to put up game servers on there. What games do you think we should make a server for, and would anyone be interested in leading the installation/maintenance of such a server?

I feel like a TF2 server would be pretty cool, since it's free-to-play and it's a pretty accessible game. It'd be nice to play on a server where you actually know everyone who you're playing with. We could set up a Minecraft server, but I personally wouldn't play on it much because I've already got my own server on interguild.org. Any other suggestions?
You can view the ensuing conversation by clicking here.



Microsoft Windows 8 App Challenge


As mentioned above, we're going to talk about this competition during our next meeting. I sent an email out about it, but here it is again with much more readable formatting (and links that aren't broken):
BUILD  TEAMS & MAKE APPS FOR WINDOWS 8
Students at the University of Arizona will now get the opportunity to create applications for Windows 8. Students will be using programs such as Generation App, Dreamspark, Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 (all programs are free to students).

Incentives are as follows:
  • Experience how to build an app end to end with detailed guidance and training
  • $25 amazon gift card and roundtable discussion with Microsoft Recruiters to speak about internships and full time opportunities.
  • Real chance of making app successful by being the first to publish app to the windows store
Below is a step by step instruction list you will need in order to successfully register.
  1. Team Registration - Click and sign up!
  2. DreamSpark - Sign up to get Windows 8, Visual Studio 2012 & $50 Windows Store fee waiver for free!
  3. Windows 8 & Visual Studio 2012 – Make sure to download on Dreamspark – Individuals can either Dual Boot, Upgrade fully or have it on a Virtual Machine.
  4. Generation App – Click link and get started creating your app!
  5. Find team members on the UA App Challenge Facebook Group (UA only)
  6. Join the National Microsoft App Challenge Facebook Group (Nationally)
    [EDIT BY Livio: I absolutely could not find the link to this]
  7. Visit the UA Microsoft Student Partner Facebook Page for Q&A
  8. Submit Apps to the Windows Store no later than Oct. 16 (10 days to process)


AMC-ICPC, Next Saturday


The local ACM Club will be organizing the local round of the ACM's International Collegiate Programming Contest. Here's an excerpt from the ACM Club's website:
September 22nd, 2012 from 8:00AM-1:00PM
5th annual Arizona ACM ICPC 201120102009,2008

Each of the links above provide a breakdown of the problems and, if any, the official solutions. Regional and world problem sets can also be found on the ACM-ICPC archive.

Sign your team up for the Fall 2012 local competition.

If you're worried about eligibility, then don't sweat it at the local competition. We don't enforce eligibility requirements. However, if you do win and march on to the regional competition then you will need to ensure 2012 ICPC eligibility.


Facebook Summary


The purpose of this section is to summarize the miscellaneous things that got posted on our Facebook group within the last week, so that the non-Facebook users among us won't feel so left out.


To the Moon, now on Steam

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
To the Moon is now on Steam! Get it now while it's on sale!
http://store.steampowered.com/app/206440/
[Original post and comments]


Game Studies - Research Journal

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
I remember talking about games research during the club fair. Here's the link to that research journal I mentioned:
http://gamestudies.org
[Original post and comments]


Tough times on the road to Starcraft

posted by Rory Ksionda:
Cool information about the development of Starcraft
http://www.codeofhonor.com/blog/tough-times-on-the-road-to-starcraft
[Original post and comments]



Avoiding game crashes related to linked lists

posted by Rory Ksionda:
Part two of the Starcraft posts is up and even more applicable to those interested in game development and better coding in general.
http://www.codeofhonor.com/blog/avoiding-game-crashes-related-to-linked-lists
[Original post and comments]


The Six Most Infamous Puzzles In Adventure Game History

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
I feel like I've been criticizing Zuoming's level design too much recently, but at least it's not as bad as this...
http://www.untoldentertainment.com/blog/2012/03/02/the-six-most-infamous-puzzles-in-adventure-game-history/
[Original post and comments]


Steam Big Picture

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
Steam is now on your TV! This is further evidence that Valve is getting ready to make a console.
http://store.steampowered.com/bigpicture/#out_now
[Original post and comments]


5 Graphic Adventure Game Goofs (and How To Fix Them)

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
More adventure game design tips from Ryan Creighton:
http://www.untoldentertainment.com/blog/2012/02/16/5-graphic-adventure-game-goofs-and-how-to-fix-them/
[Original post and comments]


A Call to Arms for Decent Men

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
Extra Credits recently posted this article on their facebook page. It's actually a re-posting of something that was posted somewhere else on Facebook, but the article has better formatting which makes it easier to read:

http://jezebel.com/5938972/a-call-to-arms-for-decent-men

Even though there are many small pieces of the article that I don't really agree with, I thought the overall article was pretty good, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Unfortunately, after Extra Credits posted this, they received a big negative backlash in the comments from people who thought this article was the worst thing they've ever read. Here's a sample of the most extreme reactions:

". . . This is pure and utter sexist trash. EC you should be better than this. . ."

"Complete and utter disappointment that you would share such garbage."
". . . This is just some entitled dick raging about men protecting women. . ."
". . . EC is bordering on earning a plonk for flopping this turd on me."
"My disappointment with Extra Credits is complete when I see this sort of garbage being endorsed by them. . ."

It's worth noting that most of these negative commenters were guys, but I did count one woman among them.

If you go to EC's facebook page, the most recent post is Jame's response to the backlash, and I'm kinda in the same boat as him. I'm really disappointed with how people have reacted to this, and I thought EC's followers were better than that.

But the main reason I'm posting this here is because I'm just plain confused as to why people are reacting this way. I read through dozens of those comments and I still don't really understand what the big deal is. Most people just seem to be hung up on small inaccuracies, word choice, tone, and the writer's subtle yet unclear hints of sexism and/or reverse-sexism. This type of nitpicking is usually a sign that these readers approached this article with a heavy amount of bias.

It's as if most people just don't understand (or don't want to understand) that the whole "be a real man" argument is really just meant to say that "cool people don't act like that" and that you shouldn't tolerate it when you see it. That's a pretty good message, in my opinion.

PS: here's EC's episode on harassment in games, which pretty much sums up their opinion on the topic: http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/harassment
[Original post and comments]


Escape From Mount Stupid: Point and Click Adventures

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
I sure have been running into a lot of Adventure-Game related resources lately.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR12j_qbhv4
[Original post and comments]


Super Crate Box

posted by Harvey Sam:
I know that I am probably really late on hearing about this game and you probably have all played it by now, but I would like to thank Zuoming Shi for showing me this game at the game night. It really has me looking forward to working with Game Maker some time in the future. You should check it out it is free and it is on steam if you want, but it is also very addicting.
http://www.supercratebox.com/
[Original post and comments]


Wii U Release Information

posted by Dave Fei:
Lots of new Wii U details, such as price, launch date, and (most importantly) the games.
http://www.nintendo.com/wiiu
[Original post and comments]


Game Development Bibliography

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
I just found this "book" on Safari Books Online that catalogs every game programming book on the site. Looks amazingly useful.
http://proquest.safaribooksonline.com/9781457167515
[Original post and comments]


35 Years of Console Launch Prices

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
http://i.imgur.com/AqFtt.png
[Original post and comments]


Zynga counters EA's copyright suit with a claim of its own

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/177745/Zynga_counters_EAs_copyright_suit_with_a_claim_of_its_own.php
[Original post and comments]


Learning Games Initiative Research Archive (LGIRA)

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
I first heard about this during Spring Break when I got interviewed by someone for an article. At the time all I knew was that there was some guy with supposedly the largest game archive in the country, here in Tucson, but I couldn't find any web page about it. And now I've finally run into it:
http://lgira.mesmernet.org/
[Original post and comments]


Tales from the Video Game Archive

posted by Livio De La Cruz:
Here's an event by the guys running that video game archive:

"Ken McAllister (UA) & Judd Ruggill (ASU), co-curators of the Learning Games Initiative Research Archive, one of the largest video game collections in the world, will uncrate and highlight a few of the Archive's more unusual artifacts. From arcade machines sponsored by the CIA to video game sex toys to a game controller with nearly fifty buttons, Ruggill and McAllister will traverse the perverse of gaming's half-century history, putting some of it in context and leaving the rest for garbologists to sort out. 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Free admission, happy hour prices and free snacks at the Playground Bar & Lounge, 278 E. Congress."

Wednesday, Oct 10th, 2012
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Playground Bar & Lounge
278 E Congress St
http://confluencenter.arizona.edu/upcoming-events
[Original post and comments]


Closure, now on Steam

posted by Harvey Sam:
The mechanics of this game are what really have me interested in it. Whatever is being lit up by light is real but whatever is in the dark does not exist. I think I had played this or a similar game a bit a while ago but I may be wrong.
http://closuregame.com/
[Original post and comments]


Microsoft's UofA Page

Posted by Livio De La Cruz:
Now's the time of year to be looking for internships and summer jobs. You might want to start following Microsoft's facebook page in case they post any opportunities on there.
https://www.facebook.com/uamsp
[Original post and comments]