I was the Game Developer at an elementary school career day

I recently had the opportunity to speak at an elementary school career day to groups of kindergarten through 5th grade students about my career in game development.
The kids were super fun, they all loved talking about which video games they liked to play and could have gone on all day if we had the time. I ended up giving the same presentation around 15 times to groups of 5 or 6 kids at a time.

Feel free to use or show this presentation to classes. I am providing it under the Creative Commons Attribution License, please let me know if you end up using it and if there is a good response to it I may work on an expanded version.

I have a few insights below from the questions I asked them and the most common questions they asked me.

Questions the kids asked me:
How long have you been making games?
What is your favorite game that you’ve made?
Is programming hard?
What is your most popular game?
Are your games on the app store?
What is the weirdest game you have made?


“What games do you like to play?”

(answers in order of most to least)

  1. Minecraft
  2. Call of Duty
  3. Grand Theft Auto
  4. Paper Mario: Color Splash

Mentioned once each:
Five Nights at Freddy’s, Crossy Road, Pac Man

 

“What do you play games on?”
(answers in order of most to least)

  1. Phone
  2. Xbox
  3. PS4

What game developers do you know of?
(answers in order of most to least)

  1. Mojang (Minecraft)
  2. Microsoft

Mentioned once each:
Activision, Jeb (Minecraft), Scott Cawthon (Five Nights at Freddy’s), Gamestop, “My dad”, “I made a game”, “You”, and “Alex”

One of my favorite career day take-aways was seeing a kid’s face light up when he saw Kick Bot in my Two Scoop Games demo reel video. He shouted, “You made kick bot, I’ve seen that! I saw a YouTuber play that game! You made that?!”

 

And now to close out I have some great resources for learning to make games!

Games From Scratch

Girls Make Games

Louisville Makes Games!

‘Fog and Glass’ Ludum Dare entry

I was not planning on participating in this April’s Ludum Dare Game Jam because I, along with several people from Louisville Makes Games (our local Louisville KY game dev community) were attending and speaking at Vector, a local conference similar to GDC but on a much smaller scale.

I really liked the theme “A Small World” and came up with the concept of a simple sealed terrarium where the plants grow and die in a constantly repeating cycle. I talked with Cara Smith about the concept and she was interested and started doing the artwork.

Fog and Glass, Ludum Dare 38 entry by Alex Bezuska and Cara Smith

I programmed the game using no engine just JavaScript with PixiJS to handle the rendering.

I wrote a small story with Cara’s help with proofreading and suggestions. The story is about my struggles with depression and anxiety. It was interesting channeling the feelings I have when I am depressed because when writing the story I was not depressed. I feel like people, especially those in the game development community, talking openly about mental health issues has helped me a lot with my own. I want to write more and try making more narrative-based games, and work on my writing and storytelling.

While this is not really a game or very interactive, I wanted to put out what we created and call it finished.

The game will only work on a computer in the browser with keyboard for controls.

There is not much interaction, just use right arrow key to advance the story, left arrow key to go back.

Click here to play ‘Fog and Glass’ by Alex Bezuska and Cara Smith

-Alex

 

Finding Home Devlog – Game animation with Spriter

I originally set out to re-create my ld37 game Finding Home in Unity under the assumption that the code would be my largest hurdle and I should take that on first. The first couple sessions of working on the project went well and I had a game mostly up-to-par with the jam version, then disaster… It seemed like the more I worked on the game, the more things starting breaking and I didn’t fully understand the example code in the utility I was using for my dialogue so trying to fix things or make changes was really hit-or-miss. I basically have come to the conclusion that I will create my own branching dialogue system and start simple as I did for the Superpowers version of the game. I have not started on that yet but I might this week.

Having been a bit frustrated the last couple programming sessions I took some advice from a trusted source and switched to working on art and animation. I recently worked on a sample game to impress a client during a contract proposal and the team I was on used Spriter, a 2d sprite animation tool. Spriter, while it has it’s quirks, reminds me of the best parts of Flash and I really think it is my new go-to for creating game animations.

I started off by doing some planning, the goal is to have a game that looks and plays well on iPad, that is my target for sure. I took some notes on iPad and a few other tablet’s screen resolutions and figured out max sizes for my sprites and avatars. I began working on the main character, the kid snail, and redrew the avatar art basically the same but around 16 times as large. I painted in Photoshop using the pencil tool at various sizes just as I did during the jam, this produces a really nice “blob paint” look which I like a lot. When crating the artwork I considered the layers carefully as they would later be exported individually for use in Spriter.

Finding Home snail avatar spriter

Once in Spriter I started on 2 animations, an “idle”, and a “talking” state for the player’s avatar. I recently found out there is a Spriter importer  called SpriterDotNet that will let you use the .scml files that Spriter creates along with the original images so the animation is done live in Unity – no spritesheets! The importer even allows you to transition smoothly between animations which is impressive to look at.

Finding Home snail avatar spriter

Finding Home snail avatar spriter

Overall I am content with the progress I made on the first avatar, and I am looking forward to redoing the others.

-Alex Bezuska
Follow Alex on twitter: @alexbezuska

About Finding Home
Finding Home is an upcoming interactive storybook game that children can play along with their parents. Coming soon to the iOS and Android.
http://findinghomegame.com

Ludum Dare might be an odd title,
heck folks even argue over it’s recital…

But if you get your thrills stretching yourself and learning new skills
this concept should be nothing foreign

With two variations,
the “compo” my persuasion,
I set off on my two day task..

As the rules state:
– Make a game in a weekend,
no help from a mate.
– All original art, code, and sound,
Nothing borrowed or found.

Long nights and stretched days
in a caffeine haze
I worked till my Wacom grew weary.

Keeping things concise and tame
allowed me to finish within the allotted time frame.

The lead in this tale
…whom despite being a snail,
I believe many of us can relate.

A story about how comparison can be dreadful and everything uncertain
– unless you have friends who can pull back your curtain…

Try my game today,
and don’t fear you won’t be able to play…

No past game skills or fast paced thrills, anyone with a computer can play!

Click here to try it:
http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-37/?action=preview&uid=34387

A donut-shooting robot bee boss I created for #GlazingLazers, a little top-down shooter game about pastries I created for the #LetsCookJam last year and have been working on slowly ever since.

The bee puts up honey shields what you must destroy before you can attack it. I have only created the artwork, I still need to add it into the game.

Try the jam version of the game here: http://jams.gamejolt.io/letscookjam/games/glazing-lazers/64688