Webcomic – Just Let Me Be

comic - let me be
Comic – Let Me Be

It’s been a long while since I last drew a webcomic so decided to make one today. Recently I have been playing Persona 5 (a great game by the way) and I can’t be the only one that gets annoyed by Morgana not allowing me to craft some lockpicks or do some training before heading to bed.

Updates for May 2017

Expanding I.R.I.S – DefOp

For the past week I have been working on bringing new updates for this game. Unfortunately, I coded the game in such a terrible way that it was impossible to add new things without revamping most of the original source code. The poor coding comes as a no surprise considering the game’s code was based on a top-down shooter prototype I made back in 2015. My philosophy at the time was “As long as it works … heck care”.

I spend the last couple of days cleaning and optimizing as much as I can but from the looks of it, it’s still going to take a while. I need to learn how to code in such a way that I can easily expand the game without breaking other parts. To do that, I will either play around with the codes for Ninjas Don’t Fall or start fresh with an entirely new game.

Ninjas Don’t Fall

The game at its current stage does feel kinda boring in my opinion. I do have a couple of ideas in mind on how to make the game a bit more challenging. Will get to that once I solve the problems mentioned above.

Futuristic 2D Sprite Kit

I recently released my very first sprite kit over at GameDevMarket, Itch.io and Scirra Market. It’s similar to the ones seen in I.R.I.S – DefOp but with more parts, including some that have not been used in the game. Do check it out if you are thinking of making 2D futuristic style games. By the way, more parts will be added soon to this kit. Been drafting quite a number of designs on paper.

More Sprites

There are plans on releasing new sprites in the coming future. Nothing is concrete at the moment but I’m leaning towards a pirate theme. Will see how it goes.

Futuristic 2D Sprite Kit

I have recently released a sprite kit that allows you to create futuristic planes or ship, similar to the ones you see in my game DefOp. The kit contains multiple small parts, allowing you to mix and match to create awesome looking crafts. Suitable for top-down view games.

The Futuristic 2D Sprite Kit costs $5 and you can get them at the following sites:

If you have used these sprites in your games or projects, feel free to drop me an email over at developer [at] livingtheindie.com. Would love to see what you have done. Cheers!

5 Things I Dislike About the Nintendo Switch

Previously, I talked about the 5 things I like about the Nintendo Switch. This time, let’s switch things up a bit and talk about my 5 dislikes about Nintendo’s latest console

Low Battery Life

A common complaint about the system. The Switch generally last between 2 and a half to 3 hours depending on the game you are playing. In comparison the 3DS has a battery life of 4 to 6 hours.

Low Storage Space

The Switch comes with a 32GB internal storage space, which is very low by today’s standard. Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild takes up 13.4GB which is roughly more than 40% of the available memory. In reality, we have less than 32GB since a certain portion is dedicated to the console’s operating system. Sure, you can easily increase the storage space by purchasing a SD card which brings me to my next point …

Hidden Costs

Alright, I need to clarify that this ‘hidden costs’ point is a case by case scenario. For an example, I myself didn’t purchase the Pro Controller (I find the Joy-Cons with the attachment works well enough) but I did buy a 64GB SD Card since game cartridges are hard to find (from where I’m from) and quite a number of games are digital only. Not to mention essential accessories like hard case, screen protector and cartridge holders. I personally find that the hard case is a must have for the Switch. 

Comparing that with a Playstation 4 or Xbox One, you don’t really need to purchase additional stuff to get it up and running, except for games of course …. or PSN Plus / Xbox Live …. or a TV … or a table to hold the TV … okay … think I’m getting off track here.

Oh and you might want to purchase a powerbank if you plan on using the Switch outdoors. That’s another hidden cost.

Unable to Backup Saves

At the time of this post, there’s absolutely no way to backup our game saves. While I’m sure Nintendo will eventually come out with a solution to fix this issue in the future, it’s quite baffling that we can’t even perform a simple copy-to-pc kind of backup.

Flimsy Kickstand

This is just a minor complaint but I wished Nintendo made a sturdier kickstand. While it is not as bad as how CNET made it out to be, the Switch does feel like it’s going to tip over when you try to operate the power or volume buttons with one hand.

My First Impression of Unity Game Engine


For a long time I have always wanted to give Unity a try but somehow will end up putting my time elsewhere. With the release of I.R.I.S – DefOp and Ninjas Don’t Fall, I decided that now is the best time to dive in and give it a shot. I managed to complete two tutorials (both 2D games): a flappy bird clone and a top down space shooter.

From Corona to Unity

Transitioning from Corona SDK to Unity wasn’t easy for me. In Corona, pretty much everything is text based. There’s no UI (except for compiling) and any adjustments (from object position to sizes to color) are done using codes. The advantage of this is that, you only need to specify the stuff you need. For an example, if you don’t need to make any adjustments the object size, you can just leave the out the code that does the scaling. This in turn makes positioning objects a lot harder since you have to make a guess on the starting X and Y coordinates.

Having so used to everything being text only, it felt quite overwhelming to see Unity’s user interface at first. Just dragging an object into the Scene will display a whole list of options for you to adjust. So … many … things. Nevertheless, I pressed on with the tutorials.

My First Mistake

And that is to go with the top-down space shooter tutorial instead of the Flappy Bird clone. Now, I’m not saying that the shooter tutorial is bad by any means but the tutorial on flappy bird was by Unity themselves and they do a better job explaining the mechanics. The game’s scope is also much smaller making it easier for newcomers to grasp. By the time I completed the space shooter tutorial, I have pretty much forgotten the first half of it.

If you are starting out with Unity and plan to make 2D games, my advice is go with the Flappy Bird tutorial first.

My Quick Opinion of Unity

With two tutorials completed, I’m just barely scratching the surface of what Unity is capable of but all in all, I’m starting to get real fond of it. I like the fact that I am able to preview my game without having to compile it first. (Come to think of it, pretty much every other SDK allows you to do that except for Corona … hmmm). Being able to deploy to almost every platform (including the new Nintendo Switch) is a huge plus. This means that I will able to create HTML5 web games without having to use another SDK (currently I’m using Construct2). Unity also uses C# (C Sharp) which is a very popular programming language. Even if you are going to develop games with Unity, having knowledge of C# will definitely come in handy.

If I were to point out my one dislike about Unity, that would be the ‘complexity’ of the user interface. No doubt things will get easier as time passes but comparing Unity with Corona, Corona’s process in developing and compiling games is much simpler and straight forward. Corona is also much more resource friendly since it’s lightweight.

That’s about it for now. If you wish to try out the Unity tutorials mentioned above, just click on the respective links below. Happy coding!

Flappy Bird Tutorial
Top-Down Space Shooter

Why You Should Get A Hard Case For Your Nintendo Switch

As a hybrid gaming console, you will probably find yourself playing the Nintendo Switch outside your home once in a while. Unlike the 3DS which sports a clam-shell design that gives it some form of protection, the Switch is pretty much ‘bare’. It doesn’t help that the Switch’s screen is using plastic material instead of glass, making it prone to scratches. As a Switch owner myself, I definitely recommend getting a hard case if you plan to bring the device outdoors.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through that link. This helps to keep my blog going. Thanks for your support!

Better Protection

A hard case provides better protection overall compared to sleeve ones. Sure, you sacrifice some slimness but knowing that your Switch will not likely to be crushed (when placed inside a luggage with other things) or damage during an accidental drop, I think it’s worth it.

Extra Storage

Most hard cases comes with extra storage space, allowing you to store things like game cartridges, Joy-Con’s wrist strap or ear phones.

Extra Leverage

Playing the Switch in tabletop mode can cause some strain on one’s neck since you need to look down at a certain angle. With a hard case, you can prop the Switch on it for extra height. It also protects the back of the Switch if you happen to accidentally knocked it over.

If you are looking to buy a hard case, I recommend that you get the official Nintendo Switch Carrying Case and Screen Protector bundle [Play-Asia | Amazon], a product by Nintendo themselves. The one I’m currently using is by Keys Factory. Unfortunately it’s currently out of stock on Play-Asia and nowhere to be found on Amazon.

Alternatively, here are some other cases from Amazon and Play-Asia.

Posts that might interest you:
5 Things I Like About The Nintendo Switch

The 5 Things I Like About The Nintendo Switch

After fighting through of what seems to be an endless horde of people, I managed to snatch the last Switch away from the store counter, emerging victorious. The scene of the battlefield was glorious … the crushing facial expressions of those behind me, the sound of girlfriends slapping their boyfriends, the cries of young children, the anger roar of parents … all because they failed to get a Switch.  It was truly a survival of the fittest.

……..

Okay I kid. I actually pre-ordered mine weeks before and just walked right in to pick it up. There were ample of stocks available for walk-in customers, at least at the game store where I bought my Switch from. I would imagine the above “glorious” scenario only applies to new iPhone releases.

Anyway, having played the Switch for a good 2 weeks now, here are the the 5 things I like about Nintendo’s latest console.

The Switch (umm … literally)

Without a doubt, the best feature of the Switch is the ability to switch between handheld and TV mode on the fly. The process is simple; pop the main unit into the dock and the game will appear on your TV screen within a few short seconds. Same goes to when you remove the main unit from the dock.

This is something I have always dreamed of having every since I started gaming during the 16 bit era. The closest thing we had at the time was the Sega Nomad but *sigh* it was much too late my dear friend.

Instantly Resume

While this feature isn’t something new (both the PS4 and Xbox One are capable of resuming from where you left off), the Switch allows you get back into the action fast. Just hit the Power button to pause or resume your game. I find myself doing this a lot, especially when you have a wife and kid.

Thin and Lightweight

The Switch weigh less than the Wii U Gamepad and it is much slimmer too, making it easy to carry around. Unfortunately due to its size, you probably still need to put it inside a bag or a carrying case.

Comfort

The Switch is surprisingly comfortable to hold. The Joy-Con buttons have a nice feel to it, similar to the ones found on the 3DS. Analog sticks are a bit on the small side but nothing game breaking.

After two hours of playing Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, I did not experience any kind of cramp or discomfort.  Having said that, I did had to position my right hand at a certain angle in order to get a better feel of the right analog stick. To get the best BoTW experience, it is recommended to play with the the Joy-Cons attached to the Joy-Con grip or buy a Pro Controller.

Standard Charging Port

USB-C isn’t exactly a common standard (yet) compared to its A and B brothers, they are definitely better compared to proprietary charging ports. It allows us, the consumers to look for 3rd party alternatives, like this USB-C powerbank by Anker. I’m glad the folks over at Nintendo went with this decision.

That’s about it for this topic. Coming up next, 5 Things I dislike about the Nintendo Switch.

Working on I.R.I.S – DefOp HTML5 Edition

With the release of I.R.I.S – DefOp version 1.0.3 on iOS, I was deciding on what to do next. The choice was either to work on a new game or create a web version of I.R.I.S. I chose the later because I wanted to take a break from programming and just focus on the design aspect.

Wait … making a game without programming you say? Is that even possible?

Short answer is yes. Back in 2013, I purchased a game making tool called Construct2. It allows you to create 2D games without any programming experience at all. What you do need is logic thinking; ‘what goes where’, ‘what happens if x is triggered’ and so on. I will talk more about Construct2 in my next blog post.

sample 'logic code' from I.R.I.S DefOp HTML5
sample ‘logic code’ from I.R.I.S DefOp HTML5

When it comes to making the HTML5 version, I didn’t want it to be just a straight up port of the mobile version. Having access to keyboard and mouse controls brings a whole new world to the table. No longer are you restricted to just touch controls. Having said that, I still want to keep the core gameplay of I.R.I.S intact while changing things up a little … whichhhhhh brings me to the idea of putting … turrets.

Whats better than having 1 turret? 2 turrets!

You see, in the mobile version of I.R.I.S, your main defensive weapons are the two beam gates located on each corner of the screen. Holding the L / R touch buttons will activate the beam, killing anything that collides with it. From here, you can probably see the limitations of this design concept. Yeap, all enemies will have to move past a certain area in order for the player to destroy them. I did manage to get creative with some of the enemies (the annoying Orange ship) but at the end, an object needs to move from point A to B, with B here being the secret lab.

With the addition of turrets, the game is no longer restricted to the original design concept. I can now create enemies that attacks from a distance away and their movement paths are much more open ended. I can even throw in boss battles now.

At the time of this post, the game is about 50% complete. I will post up an early build over at GameJolt soon so do hit that ‘Follow’ button to get notified. Oh, and if you haven’t register as a member at GameJolt, do sign up. It’s a cool place where you get to play both freeware and commercial games using either your browser or in downloadable format. See you there!

Edit: The game is available now.

Work In Progress. A lot of effects are still missing

8BITDO SFC30 Gamepad

Recently, I was bitten by the nostalgic retro bug and decided to pick up the 8BITDO SFC30 Gamepad, a wireless Super Famicom controller that works with iOS, Android, Windows & Mac OS. Below is my bitesize review of the product.

Packaging


From the packaging itself, you can probably guess that this is going to be a well made product. The SFC30 Gamepad sits nicely between by 2 protective foams. Below it is a box containing the instruction booklet (in both English and Mandarin), a flat USB cable and a 30th Anniversary keychain. Color me impressed.

Product Quality

It has been over 20 years since I held an actual Super Famicom or Super Nintendo gamepad (yes, I’m pretty old) so I can’t really make a direct comparison between the SFC30 and the original. Holding the SFC30 Gamepad in my hands, it felt really good and sturdy with none of those cheap plastic feeling. Buttons have that nice ‘clicky’ sound and doesn’t feel mushy. The D-Pad however feels a tad too stiff for me. Not a deal breaker but would be nice if it was softer.

Getting Started

You have a choice between Bluetooth and wires USB connectivity. At the point of this writing, I’ve only tried connecting it to my PC via Bluetooth and it was up and running within minutes. As far as I can tell, there wasn’t any noticeable lag. Playing Contra 3 on the SNES (via emulation) felt really good, granted I died a lot. Geez I totally forgot how hard that game was.

Battery Life

I don’t have an exact measurement but the gamepad is still running since its first charge, clocking about 10 hours of gameplay in total. Considering how light the SFC30 was, I wasn’t expecting much from the battery life but this is a nice surprise. I heard it’s possible to get 20 hours of play time out of a single charge. Wow!

Overall Thoughts

When I first ordered the SFC30 Gamepad, my expectations weren’t much. When it comes to 3rd party retro gaming products, more than often the build quality doesn’t live up to the original. This product however, went beyond my expectations and blew it out the window. If you looking to get into retro gaming, look no further. I would assume the same build quality applies to all other 8BITDO products. Hmm … wonder when will I get bitten by the retro Sega bug?

If you are looking to buy the SFC30 or any other gaming related products, check out the links below. Each time you buy from them, you will be helping out the site, in return I will be able to bring in more product reviews in the future.

I picked up the SFC30 from Play-Asia, a popular online game store located in Hong Kong.

8BITDO SFC30 Gamepad (Super Famicom)
8BITDO SNES30 Gamepad (Super Nintendo)

Retro Receiver (SNES / Super Famicom)
This is a nifty product that allows you to connect and play on your SNES or Super Famicom system wirelessly using PS4, PS3, Wii Remote, Wii U Pro and all 8bitdo controllers.

If you prefer to shop at Amazon, here you go, directly from 8BITDO themsevles. [Amazon-8BITDO SNES30 Gamepad]

Until next time!