Base Race

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Base Race is a blocky real-time strategy game. The goal of the game is to destroy your opponents base before they destroy yours.

One Game a Month

31 days ago I set out on a journey of discovery and learning. I accepted the One Game a Month challenge. The goal was to great one game each month for the entirety of the year. At the end of the year, if all goes as planned I will have made 12 games, and learned a mass amount about game development.

So here we are, it's the end of January and I've spent the last 31 days respectively, working on my entry for this month. 

The Idea

Whiteboard Concept

My initial thought was to recreate a custom map that was from a game called Warcraft 2: Battle.net Edition. The map was called Grunt Warz, you had a barracks and units that spawned around it, you could use your units to attack others and defend your barracks. The map was multiplayer which added a great deal of strategy when it was more than two people.

Technology Behind the Game

Base Race was meant to be my real introduction into game development. I have done very little game programming in the past, so I decided to make my first game completely from scratch. I decided to make my game using HTML5, Canvas and native Javascript. I am not using any frameworks or libraries such as jQuery or CraftyJS to accomplish any feature that I've implemented in the game. I decided to go with an object-oriented approach for making my game. Which lead to making my own mini game-framework, which I've affectionately named GuppyJS. Guppy being a fish that is well-known as the millionfish because of sheer amount of guppys in existence. That's how I view my game framework, just another guppy in the ocean.

Conclusion

The game in action

Now that it's all said and done I can safely say I made my first game from scratch. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. There are many features missing that I had originally envisioned, the primary being unit collisions and pathfinding. However, I am happy with the progress that I made and I have learned a great amount from just the very first month of the 12 month challenge. I am very excited to see where I am at in a few months. If you've ever been interested in game development but have never made the plunge, then I have one thing to say. Just go for it, start from scratch, and just put in the effort, it will certainly pay off.

Open Source

If you're interested in learning more about the game feel free to check out the Source Code on GitHub. Even though I've done everything from scratch I decided to make it open source as there is not many HTML5 Canvas RTS games out there that are open source. So please feel free to learn and use my code as you like, just be aware that it's by no means perfect or done. Also, I plan to continue developing GuppyJS as I continue to make games throughout the year, so look forward to seeing more!

Encourage productivity with a good working environment

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For most people having a good working environment is key to success, whether it's something we realize or not. Our mood, thoughts and productivity are all affected by our environment. For each person, their ideal environment can be different.

Functionality

Having a workspace that is functional, practical and does not obstruct your workflow, should be your number one priority. Take a look at your workflow and determine how you can improve it. For me I have a lot of ideas and tasks floating around in my head, so I decided to get a Galant Glass Desk from IKEA. This allows me to easily whiteboard my ideas with Retractable Dry Erase Markers, on the desk itself. This makes it easy to keep work-related tasks where they belong, at my work desk.

I found myself getting up to get water far too often, while this may be a good way to stretch your legs, it can be interruptive when you're trying to focus. Getting a good water bottle can certainly help you out there, I opted for the Square Water Bottle by CleanBottle.

I also found myself needing to adjust the volume of my music far too often, this was a nuisance for me, as the mechanical keyboard that I use has no media keys. I remedied this by purchasing the PowerMate by Griffin Technology, it's a small usb knob for PC and Mac that sits on your desk and allows you control various programs, you can program the device to do anything you want, including adjusting the computer's volume.

One other problem I encountered with having multiple monitors is that it's a pain to turn all of the monitors on and off each time you get to the desk and leave the desk. To fix that problem I decided to purchase this Power Strip with a Remote Switch. It allows me to turn all 3 of my monitors and my LED Light Stripe for the desk on and off with the press of a button.

Appearance

Appearance is important to a good environment, something that is atheistically pleasing is much more desired than the reverse. Surrounding yourself with things that you find beautiful or pleasing is a good trick to promote happiness in your workspace. Whether it's paintings, posters, action figures or LED Light Stripes to light up your desk. You can create a look that works for you. Something else to keep in mind is that more often than not a dirty desk piled up with papers and other junk can cause ongoing stress. So it's important not to go overboard, try to keep your environment clean, so you can focus on what's important.

Colors

Colors play a big factor into our mood, however unlike most of might us believe, there isn't one schematic to how colors affect us. Colors affect everyone differently, which is why if you were to do a search for how colors affect on our moods, you'd find very mixed results. However, there is a bit of a general consensus, but the fine details of how colors affect us our variable. The best thing to do is experiment and discover which colors invoke the desired emotions and responses in yourself. Some colors might promote productivity, some anger and anxiety, others might promote relaxation. There's a pretty good article about colors affecting our moods over at eHow.

Sound

It's known that having background noise of 70 decibels is about the sweet spot for increasing productivity. But a higher level of 85 dBs can hurt productivity. For comparison, a whisper is about 20 dBs and a live rock concert is about 108 - 114. A little bit higher up, at about 150 dBs your eardrums will rupture, which explains why it's possible to have hearing damage after a concert. You can learn more about background noise and how it affects us over at lifehacker.

Conclusion

Create an environment that promotes success, one that makes you want to be there and doesn't restrict your work. I hope that I have given some insight for success and a few ideas for your next workspace. Feel free to let me know what cool workspaces you come up with!

Sugar-free

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I'm the kind of person who enjoys her sweets, like seriously enjoys them. cookies, cake, and chocolate milkshakes, infact, almost anything chocolate. However, when I was in college I decided to stop drinking soda and I also severely limited my sugar-intake. It was a surprise for me to see just how much energy I had gained from boycotting these two indulgences. However, over time I started eating more sugar again, and who can blame me? Sugary foods are everywhere and they're so damn good.

However, 24 days ago on December 14th, 2012 to be precise, I adopted a sugar-free diet. Now, I have fairly strong willpower, but I have to say, a sugar-free diet, especially for me, has been hard. But with any addiction it takes awhile for it to leave your system and for your brain to forget the need and desire for it. Surprisingly, some have been supportive, others have tried to sabotage my diet by trying to tempt me. But overall I've kept to the diet and I'm pleased with the results. It also helps to set some basic ground rules, anything inside the house with sugar in it is off-limits. Outside of the home, it's harder to know what might or might not have sugar in it. The best rule of thumb is to avoid foods you know for sure has sugar in it, but for entrées my policy is more lax. It's too much headache to worry about potential sugar in your dinner.

The Reason

My goal was to gain more energy to get more done throughout the day, especially after work when I use to feel really tired and sluggish, I had little desire to work on side projects and had a hard time focusing. I've found not only that my focus is back but so is my energy, so long as I have a proper sleeping schedule I can work fairly solid until I go to bed. I've also realized just how little food I actually have in my house if I take away all the sugary foods. Which has indirectly caused me to eat more real food instead of snacking on a sugary delight.

Going Forward

I will definitely continue my diet, but you're probably wondering, why not just cut the amount of sweets I eat down to a rare occurrence instead of going cold turkey? My thought was this was the best way to kick the habit, by getting it out of your system as quick as I could. I wanted more energy as fast as possible. That being said, in the future I don't see anything wrong with have an occasional cookie or slice of cake. But it will have to be part of a meal, too often I replaced my breakfast, lunch and dinners with sweets.

 

So If you have a something in your life that you find unsatisfactory, for example, lack of energy, I hope this inspires your to take the steps you need to redeem your problem. Sometimes we have to look at what we love most to fix our biggest problems.

Photo Credit: A little sugar in my bowl via Flickr

 

What is Success?

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Success is a funny thing, it's a notion determined by our perceptions. If we feel successful then we are successful. Much like any other emotion or feeling we can exhibit, to believe is to be and to be is to believe. We can believe that we are in love when in fact we may not truly understand what love is. Our brains are silly like that, our brain's power to make something feel real is top-notch. Animations are a good example of this, by placing pictures on top of each other, one after another, even if it's at a slow rate, it can give the perception of motion and movement. To us it feels real, even a movie, comprised of artificial characters and  an artificial story, it feels real. Which brings me to my next point, reality is how we perceive it.

If we perceive the world around us as a happy place, we will be happy. But our perception of our world can be influenced, in fact everything we perceive is based on the opinions and thoughts of our peers. Working at a company is a great example, imagine your day-to-day at work is fantastic and you couldn't be happier at your new job. Then one day you hear co-workers gossiping or complaining about specific issues within the company that you were not even aware of as being problems. Even if those problems had no affect on you, your world will feel a tiny bit less happy. Soon you'll begin to become fixated on the negative. That's not to say you might not have noticed these problems yourself over time. But your opinion of these problems might not have been biased by the opinions you've been force fed by your peers. It's possible you could have brushed that problem off by looking at the positive, especially if you are happy with your job. They say happiness is bliss, and they couldn't be any more true. Happiness is living in ignorance of the problems around us, ignoring them, being positive despite negatives. A fun fact is that being positive actually takes less energy than being negative, much like smiling uses less muscles than frowning. When we are not happy we are tired, exhausted and drained. Our minds are using so much energy focusing on negatives that we literally tiring ourselves out.

What does all of this have to do with success? Success is a bit like happiness, when we have it most of time we're unaware of it. When we don't, we focus on our failures. Here's an interesting thought, all of us, every last one of us, is successful. How is that possible? Once we are successful can we really be a failure? Doesn't that defy the meaning of success? We have success all around us, but generally we ignore it. All of us are successful in one way or another. Perhaps you landed a new job, graduated college, saved up for a car, made a cool web application or even moved to a new place, that's success.

The more we start to see how successful we are the more successful we'll be. We should start saying to ourselves, "I am successful, and I will always be successful.", because failure does not change our past successes, now does it? When we realize how successful we really are the fear of failure becomes silly.

So start believing, start doing and be. That is success.

Photo Credit: FutUndBeidl via Flickr

Tagteam Startups

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Tagteam Startups is an incubator for start-ups to help with their lack of momentum by providing an environment that encourages playing musical chairs with other's ideas and start-ups every handful of months.

The Problem

The attention-span of companies and it's employees are too short, we lose momentum even with some of the best of ideas. Eventually the project takes a downward spiral to non-existence.

How can we fix it?

  • Change the traditional life cycle of a start-up
  • Fix the short attention-span problem
  • Create a solution for the desire to work on many ideas and projects

How it Manifested

The idea manifested from the question "How do you keep the momentum at a start-up going?" during the AskJay show by Jay Adelson.

The Solution

Tagteam Startups would be an incubator that would help startups from the beginning. The twist being that Tagteam will bring in a team to work on a pre-existing idea and they would work on that project for a period of time, i.e. 3-5 months. Then, after that period they would move on to a new project and a new team with a fresh outlook would come in to take their place. This would repeat until a startup has reached maturity and a team would become finalized. 

After a person has been involved in 2-3 projects they would then be given the opportunity to submit an idea as the next project that a team and himself might work on.

This would give entrepreneurs and eager-minds filled with ideas the chance to work in a startup-environment and learn before proceeding to work on their own ideas. It also would provide a means for rapid production of multiple projects and ideas.

Could it work?

This is a big scale project, and would require the help of influential people and a decent amount of funding. I also foresee the need to change and play with the variables for all the conditions of this idea. Changing how long teams work on projects, changing specific rules and concepts, until a good balance is found. What do you think, do you think this idea has legs? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Subscribe-in-one Button

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I find myself going to websites and searching for the Like, Follow and Subscribe button all too often. "Imagine if you could Subscribe to all of the social media websites for your interests at one click of a button.", that's what I thought to myself. So I created a Prototype concept of the idea in Photoshop.

The Possibilities

This idea has the possibilities of being either a stand-alone kit that users download and install on their websites themselves or being a Chrome Browser  Extension. The extension has appeal because you could search for existing social media buttons and then let the users subscribe through some sort of Context Menu Bar that would pop-up at the top of the page.

How it Works

Imagine a button cycling through the various social media buttons once you click it, it would subscribe to all of those social media services, after subscribing it'll show you what you subscribed to and allow you to uncheck the ones you don't want.

The way the settings works is very much idealistic of a single-button interface. You'll notice there are 2 other buttons depicting that ability to change settings in the picture above. When hovering over the social media icon i.e. the Facebook Icon, Twitter Icon or Youtube Icon, it will switch to a setting icon and display the Settings text next to it. Once this is displayed if the user clicks on the Settings text you'll be presented with all 3 social media icons on one button with check marks next to each. By clicking on any of the icons you'll be able to pick what you're interested in subscribing to.

My Predictions of the Future

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I wanted to do something fun and interesting with this post, I wanted to write out my personal predictions of life 20 years in the future. These predictions are not based off of intense research, but mere judgement and a little bit of creativity. My goal is to look back at this blog post and see what I thought the future would be like in 20 years so I can see how close or far off my predictions were.

Data

In the future we'll record every aspect of our lives, humans love data, we are increasingly recording more and more data. We'll have information, pictures and videos about our daily lives. Every new and fun experience that we have will be self-documented automatically without having to worry about taking pictures of it.

We'll also know about almost every detail of our bodies, energy consumption, calorie in-take, energy burned. How much we walked, the elevation, the speed. Our blood presure, heart-rate, the list will go on. A lot of these things are already tracked using our phones and other devices. In the future we'll know all this information, all the time, without having to worry about tracking it.

Automation

As we move toward a more data-centric life, automation will become a bigger part of everyone's future. People will start to think more and more about how we can optimize our time, so we can spend that time doing what is important to us. Websites like Lifehacker is a small start to something much more, life-automation tools has been fairly untapped at this point. Consider how much more there is left to automate in our lives.

Devices

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Nest Labs

In the future more and more devices will be seamlessly integrated, which means only one thing. We'll have less devices, presently to achieve cool features like what the Nest Theromstat and Lockitron offer, we have to buy separate devices to put in our homes. With time these devices will be a standard in homes, just like the light bulb.

We’ll no longer carry around our “essentials”, our keys, wallet or even cell phone.

We'll also have less material objects, digital objects will for the most part replace material objects. We'll no longer carry around our "essentials", our keys, wallet or even cell phone. Instead humans will retain digital information on their person. Think, skin-like chips will be embeded into our bodies allowing us to retain information we need for our daily lives, like a digital wallet or digital key.

Much like how the cell phone combines many technologies and possibilities into one device, the same will begin to happen with other devices around us.

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New Ways to Experience

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In the future we will be able to experience something like a movie, game, puzzle or even fantasies with our minds. We'll begin to use our mental thoughts as a venue for media, and entertainment. We will find a means to clearly visual these things inside our mind with the help of technology, making it possible to close our eyes and play a game.

This will also bring new ways to experience sleep, new ways to learn. We'll be able to dream about whatever we want, we'll be much more concious of decisions we can make in a dream-like state.

We'll be able to view the world in many new perspectives. We'll increase the number of senses we have, being able to see and experience things we could never before experience. We'll be able see the entire light spectrum with our eyes, along with slow motion and viewing from greater distances will all be possible.

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In the future we'll be able to live in another world inside our minds. A good example of this would be a computer running Windows with a Virtual Machine software installed, like VirtualBox, that lets the computer emulate Linux. Then if you were to install VirtualBox on that VirtualBox and emulate another version of Linux and so on. This is possible, and it's very similar to how we might simulate experiences in our mind in the future. This simulation is only restricted by the speed and performance of the hardware and software.

In the future we’ll be able to live in another world inside our minds.

Design

In the future we won't be software engineers, we'll be hardware engineers and designers, there will be ridiculous amount of platforms, frameworks and tools that will make software creation trivial, it will just work. Instead we'll begin to focus more on products, and solutions, instead of the how and why.

There will no longer be a separation between creative people and non-creative people.

We'll finally see a time in our lives where translating digital objects into physical objects, is possible without the help and money of others. We'll be the designers of our own lives, we will show off our creativity in new ways. There will no longer be a separation between creative people and non-creative people. Everyone will be creative in how they design products and solutions for their lives. Creativity will become an encouraged part of life, as creativity only brings more creativity. 

You'll be able to change the color of your car, computer, phone, clothes and any other object on command. Changing the size and shape of objects will also be in it's infancy. In the future we'll be able to mold our faces and bodies to any shape and figure we desire. Beauty will only be limited by our imagination.


Those are my predictions for 2032, what's yours?


Photo Credit:
Future City Photo via Flickr, Nano Chip Photo via Flickr, Untitled Photo via Flickr, 11 Oxygen Spectrum Photo via Flickr, Less is More Photo via Flickr