Body chan For Manga Artists, Is It Worth Buying?

livingtheindie body-chan header

When it comes to drawing characters, I usually have a hard time getting their poses right. It’s either the body proportion is off or the outcome just look unnatural.  Imagine my surprise when I came across Body-chan by SH Figuarts for the first time while browsing around my local game & figurine store.

For those who are unfamiliar with this product, body-chan is a poseable figure released by Bandai. The one that I have here is the female Pale Orange DX version, which comes with more accessories (17 different hand poses, laptop, tablet, flip phone, touch phone, pen, gun and a katana sword). This is definitely a better choice compared to the none DX version which only includes 10 interchangeable hands and no other accessories. There is also a male variation called Body-kun.

The build quality of the figurine is excellent and as you can see from the pictures above, the joints are pretty flexible. There are of course, a limit to how much you can bend the arms and legs which may make certain poses difficult to pull off. However I find those limitations to be few and far between.

To demonstrate the usage of body chan, here’s a short video of me using one of the poses as a template to draw Vicky, a character from my game Def-Op: Codename I.R.I.S.

If you are looking to improve your character drawings, body-chan by Bandai SH Figuarts is definitely worth buying. Before this I had to do a lot of re-sketching because I couldn’t get the pose I wanted, leading to some stressful moments. With body-chan, I can just set it up, snap a picture and off I go to my iPad (that’s where I do most of my artwork).

You can purchase SH Figurarts Body-chan DX over at Amazon [affiliate link]

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Updates And A New Web Game In Development

For the past few of months I have been working on a new project (none gaming related), which explains the lack of updates between July and now. Thankfully that other project has since settled down a little, allowing me put some focus back onto game development.

I recently purchased Gamemaker Studio 1.4 from Humble Bundle and decided to give it a try. Starting off fresh on a new SDK is tough and I struggled at the beginning. As always, going through the tutorials is the easy the part. The hard part is when you try to implement your own gameplay elements into your game. To be honest, there were times I wanted to just give up and go back to things I’m familiar with but thankfully I managed to hang on and continued working on it.

I don’t have much to show at the moment but it’s basically another twist to the defense game genre. Hoping to get this up and running around next month November. Here’s a very early screenshot of the game with placeholder graphics.

My very early WIP game

On another note, I have also uploaded my previous game DefOp: Codename I.R.I.S Dual Blaster on this site. It was originally submitted to Scirra Arcade (the folks that made Construct2 ) with over 4000 plays, which is pretty awesome. Check it out if you are interested.

 

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Def-Op : Codename I.R.I.S version 1.0.6 Devlog

I’m happy to announce that Def-Op : Codename I.R.I.S version 1.0.6 is now out on the Appstore. This update is mostly under-the-hood optimizations and bug fixes, along with some graphical upgrades. I will go through some of the key changes below.

Name Change

First and foremost, the game’s name has been changed from I.R.I.S – DefOp to Def-Op: Codename I.R.I.S. The reason behind the original name is that I wanted I.R.I.S to be the base name for subsequent games that were to follow (e.g I.R.I.S – <sub title 01>, I.R.I.S – <sub title 02>. As time I passes, I realised that I.R.I.S isn’t exactly memorable nor does it do well in search rankings (as pointed out by a fellow game dev). With that, I decided to switch the name around.

Right Gate Fix

When the left beam gate is activated, there’s a random chance that the right gate will not work. This results in some frustrating situations where the enemies will slip right past. This issue is now fixed in the latest release.

Improved Summary Screen

In the previous version, the summary screen consists mostly text explaining the situation surrounding the main character Erika. While it gets the message across, the overall feel of that screen seems dull. In 1.0.6, I added some illustrations and split the summary text into 3 pages.

Improved Menu 

It is much easier to navigate through the menu now compared to version 1.0.5, with buttons clearly labeled and the designs standardized.

Minor Graphical Upgrades

I redrew Erika’s portrait as I felt the original wasn’t that great looking. Some facial expressions looked really odd as well. Apart from that, enemies now have shadows beneath them and I’ve changed one of the explosion animations.

That’s about covers it for version 1.0.6. If you have played this game, feel free to leave any comments or suggestions. If you enjoyed, be sure to give it a rating on the Appstore. It really helps me out as an indie developer. Thanks!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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