Watch as I set out to make 3 games or fail trying!

On September 4th I will post the first episode of Game Developer Bootcampa video series that brings you in the trenches of independent video game development.

Game Developer Bootcamp will be a bi-monthly video series with weekly videos and development livestreams. The easiest way to stay up to date with my work is to follow me on Twitter.

Livestreams will begin on August 29th and occur weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9 to 11 am EST. You can subscribe to my streaming page to be alerted when my stream goes online.

If you have any more questions you can reach out to me through Twitter, my website, or see if your question is answered on the Game Developer Bootcamp homepage.

Hopefully that’s the most I’ll ever have to embed links in a single post. This has been incredibly exciting to plan and start up. Strap in and join me on this journey, whether I make it or fail trying!

Could Bethesda’s new Creation Club be a harbinger for things to come?

I n late April of 2015, Valve and Bethesda announced that they would be selling mods through the Steam Marketplace, starting with Skyrim. It was a disaster. Within just a week, Valve refunded all purchases and removed paid mods from Steam. What went wrong and could Bethesda’s new Creation Club be any different?

Meet Bryan Shannon, previously an artist at Maxis and currently employed as an Environment Artist at Arkane Studios. Between his time working at both companies, he managed a gig as a “Cities Skylines modder.” His work quickly rose to the top of Cities Skylines’ Steam Workshop page, with Shannon claiming 4 out of the top 10 most subscribed mods. I’d think of working as a game modder as a hobbyist’s endeavor, but through Patreon’s crowdfunding platform, fans of Shannon’s work were able to support him. This is awesome.

During my time creating mods for Cities: Skylines, I was able to support my living expenses as well as contribute to my total student loan amount. Though not entirely abolished, the mods definitely brought some of my student loan cost down to a manageable month amount.

-Bryan Shannon

An avenue for professionals to create content for the games we love is an opportunity to create jobs and extend the value of the games we buy. Right now there isn’t a formalized infrastructure for this happen, but Bethesda’s new plan could bring more to the virtual worlds we love. The following are reasons why the Creation Club will succeed where Steam Workshop’s Paid Mods couldn’t:

  • This is a partnership between modders and Bethesda. In order to put anything onto the Creation Club’s store front, the modder as to apply to be a “Creator,” then pitch a three milestone development schedule, then work with Bethesda through their entire production pipeline before anything is sold.
  • All mods sold will be compatible with your game. When patching up a massive Bethesda game with an array of mods, it’s common for it to start crashing and become unstable. Part of the development process that Creation Club mods will go through is testing with Bethesda’s QA team. This way you can get that new gameplay mode without worrying if your game will suddenly stop working.
  • Creation Club will be supported on modern consoles as well as PC. One of the biggest drawbacks of playing any of Bethesda’s previous games on a console is its limited (or lack of) mod support. The Creation Club could do a lot to help bridge that gap.

Valve’s move to monetize the Steam Workshop was a mess. There was no curation. Anyone could upload anything. It was seen by many as an attack on the free modding community. People quickly picked up existing free content and tried to put it up for sale. You don’t have to look far to see why that initiative failed. The Creation Club is a step towards giving skilled designers an avenue to create quality content and a curated way that ensures the best experience for their audience.

There is a bigger impact Creation Club could have further down the line. If this initiative is successful, it could be a job opportunity for smaller developers and amateurs to work as production teams, building up large scale games like Skyrim and Fallout 4, Creation Club’s debut titles. More to do in our favorite games. More jobs for skilled creators.

Are you still not convinced that this could be a step forward for a game’s life cycle post launch? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

See Us In The Stem For All 2017 Video Showcase

Hey everyone! We’re excited to share with you our development on VRFE: Virtual Reality Field Experiences. This is an National Science Foundation funded project being developed by Clemson University and ESIO LLC.

Our first content module is designed for engagement with introductory geology concepts and practices in a virtually-simulated Grand Canyon. Our video submission for NSF’s Stem For All 2017 Video Showcase shares our ongoing research and development of our VRFE Project.

Check out our video on our Stem For All 2017 page and if you like what we’re doing and want to support the project, please do give us your Vote For Public Choice!

To keep up to date with our development, you can follow me on twitter and watch our blog! Also be sure to check out our webpage on the project here. Thanks for watching!

MechVR and site updates!

It’s been over a year since my first blog post. A young, fresh team was gearing up to develop an awesome new vr game, and I was getting ready to finish my last year of college. Now that sprint of a 6 month development cycle is over, we’ve presented at SIGGRAPH, I’ve graduated college, gotten married, and moved to Alaska.

Time really does fly.

One thing I’ve taken far too long to do is organize the projects I’ve worked on and so my first step in doing that is the creation of the PROJECTS page of this website and the link on there to MECHVR. I’ve figured out the style I want for my different project pages and am happy to share the first of those today! I hope to do another post on the experience of demoing at SIGGRAPH, but this is what I’ve got for now.

Thanks for giving it a look.

Development Begins On Mech Fighting Simulator

T wo weeks ago I started development on a new virtual reality game project at Clemson with some heavy hardware behind it: the SimCraft and Oculus Rift. Welcome to The Hangar. The goal behind this project is to build a believable experience of being inside of a giant mech. We have a hard deadline to have most basic functionality working by the end of next week so you can expect to see something playable soon. The rest of the semester will be focused on building more fleshed out levels and challenges for players to try.

Unlike most projects I’ve worked on, the play sessions we are designing for last about as long as an amusement park ride. We’re building controls with flight sticks to be intuitive enough for a player to jump in and play for 5 minutes.

We currently have some placeholder objects in Unity to develop our movement and controller scripts. We have a targeting and shooting system developed that we need to pair with our character. We have target objects that we can easily scale and give paths to follow to give the player something to shoot at in this first pass. Our main focus for this next week is going to be finishing up this test environment and connecting the game to the SimCraft.

John Welter, Emerson Smith, Victor Zordan, Kevin, Saurabh Hindlekar, Paolo Usero

John Welter, Emerson Smith, Victor Zordan, Cung Jao, Saurabh Hindlekar, Paolo Usero (not pictured Garret McKay)