The Zanga War 7 is Over!!!

So Zanga mess was over! The first time I ever heard about ZangaGames was the last year just before it started like by 1-2 weeks, at that time I barely finished with my ActionCondition system, what is that you say??? Ohh it is my bride, my angel, my light in the Dar… ohh you mean what does it do? Ohh that …. How to put it?

You see, usually game engines have themes, like RPG maker is kinda design for RPG based, you won’t be able to make a platformer game in a natural way (without heavy scripting) even when the game support 2D games. Same with other Game Engines, they usually designed for a certain type of games because they deal with the characters in a certain way, and their physics usually crafted and perfected for a certain type of games. I was worried about that and wasn’t sure how to make a general type of game engine that support ALL kind of 2D games like strategy, fighting, platformering, RPG, CRPG, dungeon crawling, etc etc. without leaving all the work for the script, actually GameLover1 was design to make everything is done by script, but I wasn’t happy with it. So it took me a great deal of time actually trying to design this on paper till I found a way by making each character independent of them game! How to do that? Well the system consists of several parts: Characters (with animations and sides), Control Sheet, states and actions, Equipments and Tags. When any control is pressed the game engine check which controller sheet for which player support that key and check what it requests. When the request is raised usually there are conditions for example if player 1 want to move right it will check if there are walls or obstacles in front of his side of walking, when all conditions are passed the request will granted and add an Action to that character (or character list for some games like RTS ones) in his\their Actions Set.

Each character has something called Action Condition (same name of the whole system) the Action condition is consist of a hash set of the Actions, a state, a side and a set of Conditions including Tag conditions and Equipment conditions. If all the conditions are applied the result will be in a form of animation … what the hell does that mean? Let me give an example, imagine if you have a character which have a walk animation without a weapon, it can have that animation when it is on the ground, now image if it can move in the air, well that will result in floating animation, now imagine if the character moves with a 1 hand weapon or 2 hands weapon, won’t the animation look different based on the weapon? And if the game dev. Have tons of resources they could make a different walk and float animation based on the type of the weapon too! Even though the player is doing same thing pressing right or left, based on if he is on the ground or not, if there is an obstacle or not, if he is frozen, size, poisoned, has haste or not, have a weapon or not his animation would look different! With that GameLover 2 was born

So imagine the core of the game engine 2 (the semi data driven, hard coded) was just made its first prototype and I wanted to enter this contest which will started soon, after I considered it well I decided to focus on the other main systems and try again next year. The next year came, and now it is June, I started to shift more time on making more shallow systems, like the Camping and sound systems, there are bare bones just to make things runs, I usually take my time in making systems and try to test them over and over, building them to face all kind of issues and cover up the edge cases one by one, but for the contest I was rushing things, I returned to the GUI system and changed how it behave, made the support for the Arabic system, finally run the Dialog system in the game engine (it was there only in the Map Simulator, the Game Builder tool for the engine) and add color and font size. A lot of small things were made here and there but at the start of July I feared there will be no more GameZanga, because I couldn’t see any announcement for it, I feared the thing died, so I returned in my old way devolving one of the system in my normal speed (slow based) trying to cover the whole thing, an all of sudden before the end of August I saw the announcement in twitter, I was surprised because I thought it is always starts at Sept 2 not 22, not only that, why didn’t they announce it a bit earlier? Like few months? here I decided to return and finish the rest of crap and try to make the game engine ready for the game again.

Unfortunately I wished if I focused on the font, I already have few size of fonts but the letter height are not equal, I start dealing with Menus again and what do you know! The Docking system was actually damn useful in placing the menus on the screen in an easy way, no need to calculate the resolution. I was almost in a panic mode trying to work around 10 hours a day in the last 3 weeks, I have sleep apnea and I shouldn’t screw up with sleeping but when the contest started I started it in the first min, I was actually watching the clock in the GameZanga site. unfortunately when i started the contest the Engine couldn’t interact with objects yet (I needed to connect some stuff first) neither the items, and has no AI system at all! At first I needed to know the subject and what do you know …. It was the last one I expected, I didn’t expect 3: everything is circler (actually I swear if that came out I might quit), the time is like a sword, and “YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE” …. Are you KIDDING ME? Do the guys who voted for this even know anything about game design T_T game choices are the core of game play, everything you do is a choice or even a fake choice, and it is still part of the game play, even in Mario have choices, chasing the mushroom that heading the pitfall is a choice, death in game is a choice, cheat is a choice, shooting the weapon, jumping, doing nothing, keeping the game on for 10 hours, be an asshole, play bad, complete the game playing the game. I mean what does that even mean “you always have a choice”? I believe Minecraft success was because it is rich with choices but even minecraft is limited, you can’t build higher than the roof which I believe is around 220 or something, you can dig below bedrock but that will kill u I believe if u fall? Not sure. What I am trying to say programming such a promise in 3 days with unfinished engine, heck, even with Unity or game maker would be unfair …

But hey actually, I wasn’t thinking straight, Bug Games made a right decision how to deal with the topic, both Danar Kayfi, Mohammad Al-Dmour made a voting game called Cat’s vote where you always have a choice to vote between two presidents who promise things and not focused on other things, but they might scam you after the vote, so it is a joke at the voting system how it gives you a true choice. I applaud for their great work in a short time.

The contest has ended, I worked around 16 hours in the first day, around 14 in the second and around 20 in the third … I never used before because I am no artiest by any mean, but I learned how to use it and the layer system and how to curse less through time, I caught my brother at home he had a weekend and made him work on 3 back grounds, and I was going to ask him for a main menu title but saw I used too much of his time I told him to forget it. The first day I was working slowly and believe it or not wasted most of it on drawing, and spent some time making the maps and some game design, the second day I was coding the missing part of the engine and designing the game and drawing the GUIs in the same time, it was a mess, and the third day was almost like a panic party. I thought I won’t need an AI but after seeing how the cops need to hunt the player and locate the evidence and stuff … I feared I must build one, there were no way around it, so … I start working on one in the last 11 hours of the contest XD after I finished and test it for few times I found I couldn’t even think anymore I need to sleep at least 3 hours, so I asked my bro to build some buildings with the map editor in the overworld map, and he did while I was sleeping, he made a small town, it look ugly thanks for the tills I made at the start of the contest, but it was better than a white screen. There were like 3 hours left and I wanted to leave the last hour for submission, so I only have 2 hours to make the first and only quest which is all the game the damn game have (exclude driving a car or bicycle on the world map) and it was messy, and tons of bugs came out in the wrong time, ppl were calling me in the wrong time and I start swearing loud every few seconds XD after I submit the abomination I was dead tired, I put my head on the pillow and felt a sleep, after like 8 hours or so another brother of mine called me and told me the game folder was empty XD you don’t know how I felt, I replaced after twitting about it but to be honest I didn’t wait for a replay that long, I was kinda upset of spending a month in agony trying to make a game and got a bad result and at the end I submit an empty zip file, thanks God they understood the situation and didn’t exclude me from the contest, yes no one looked at it for like 4 days but I am glad it is there at least.

While I was panicking trying to catch up with time it made me remember the topic “Time is like a sword if you don’t cut it it will cut you”, you don’t know how disappointed when I read that I mean … it is a saying for the God sake, but actually after calming down I made a good game based on it! Anyhow while I was panicking and working for hours my head start to doze off so decided to take a break for 10 mins, in the break I took a look on Twitter just to see Ta.. I mean Turky giving thumps up and taking images with kids that visiting the contest gathering area that they made in Al-Rashid Mall in Khobar, I imagined that everyone was panicking in there just like me while he was smiling and taking pictures, I replied on the images in a sarcastic way trying to make a joke about the situation suggesting if he shouldn’t focus on the game development more instead. I don’t know if I sounded a bit offending in that message thanks for the stupid twitter letters limit giving me 2.5 letters per message, how can I write a joke that takes around 230 words in 2.5 letters and half? Well Ta… Turky replied with if he wana focus on the contest he stayed at home (like me <_<;) but his goal was to participate, support and promote the event. Here I knew my message wasn’t clear nor received as a joke, I need to be more careful with twitter from now on … its 2.5 letters limit can do so much damage …


Anyhow, I never been good in contest, I usually make big mistakes, get too anxious, come unprepared, and I failed in all of them, and I know I will fail this one as well but I was determine to challenge myself and try to break my stress and fear from failing, I know my game engine wasn’t ready and I won’t make it but what will I lose if I submit unfinished game? What will I lose when I test my game engine and my skills if they can do stuff work even with sufficient tools and time? Nothing! Will I be embarrassed? Maybe but does it matter? It used to scare me the idea that people look at me and think I can’t program, I can’t code, it was the only thing I am good for and yet if they take that away from me what will be left for me? This is Actually what GameZanga thought me, it is alright to look stupid, I won’t panic about that anymore, people do understand and nothing wrong when an 8 years old make a better game than me XD

Next year hopefully my game engine would be more ready, when I worked on the game I noticed the ready part of the engine like the animation system and control and Action condition, the menu docking, all of these guys that I took my time in making them were satisfying to use and made my complex work look like an evening walk, the parts that I didn’t have time to test like the items, objects as items, the AI … they were a mess, there were such a mess when I added more than 2 cops at the same map they always got stuck in anything that I removed their collision all together! The funny part is a thanks for my method how I treat the characters and condition it was soo easy to remove only the cops condition, so yah. What I am trying to say I better keep doing things in a slow way and hopefully in the next year things will be ready without rushing.

So what about “The Criminal Select” you say? The game that I entered the Game jam with? Well I will finish it no worries, actually yesterday I made the rest of the ideas of the game and hopefully it will at least have animations <_< and after I finish it based on how playable it is I might place it in Steam store and try to sell it for few dollars 1-2. Yes steam take around 40-60% but what to do. Selling it on my website won’t get a lot of views, I might sell it on my website for half the price? We will see, it is too early to say.