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Month: June 2017

New bots with special abilities in the works for Kick Bot DX!

New bots with special abilities in the works for Kick Bot DX!

It has been just over a week since the Kentucky Fried Pixels game jam kickoff and we here at Two Scoop Games have been hard at work conceptualizing the future of Kick Bot. If you didn’t get a chance to read our last post where I explain more about Kentucky Fried Pixels you can check it out here: Kentucky Fried Pixels!

Kick Bot DX launch plan

    1. Get game up to feature-parity with the current version on Chrome Web Store and release as an update to the existing game. This will be a big improvement in a few areas like performance and responsiveness, but it will also fix an issue with high scores not being saved for some users.
    2. Add new features. We have been working hard during the Kentucky Fried Pixels game jam to include new features (sign up here to be notified of the bundle release!).
    3. iOS and Android release. This version will include unlockable/purchasable new playable characters with unique abilities…More on those to be announced in the future! 😉

 

 

My main focus has been working on lots of concept art while Eric works on getting the game’s main features working. Our new playable character ideas are all based around special moves they can do. There will be 7 new bots in addition to the classic Kick Bot which will be the default starter character.

 

Concept art for Kick Bot playable characters (most likely not going into game)
Concept art for Kick Bot playable characters (most likely not going into game)

Having a constraint like knowing the special ability of the character really helps to create a solid design based around a core mechanic. I am excited about the new focused direction on having 8 total bots each with special moves. The special moves have been brainstormed and the best have been chosen, now I will continue working on interesting concepts for the characters.

Eric has been working on the high score system which will later tie into leaderboards.

 

TLDR;

  • Three-pronged approach to launching Kick Bot DX
  • New unlockable playable characters each with unique new abilities in the works
  • Working on concept art – new ideas for new BOTS!
  • High score system that won’t lose scores


Keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from Two Scoop Games by joining our mailing list! 


-Alex Bezuska,

Game Artist and Animator
Two Scoop Games

 


Who is Alex?

Alex Bezuska is the cofounder/ artist for Two Scoop Games and Director at Louisville Makes Games! Alex is obsessively passionate about making games and building the local game development community. He is also an avid lover of ice cream.

Two Scoop Games cooks up a new version of Kick Bot for Kentucky Fried Pixels

Two Scoop Games cooks up a new version of Kick Bot for Kentucky Fried Pixels

For the second year in a row my game studio, Two Scoop Games, is proudly participating in the Kentucky Fried Pixels (KFP) game jam! For those unfamiliar, a game jam is an event for people who make games or want to make games to stretch their skills and creative muscles to produce a game based on a theme within a given timeframe. KFP fits that description, but has a couple of fun and interesting quirks. It is based out of our game dev home, Louisville, KY and it is actually two jams in one; a 48 hour in-person event to kick the game jam off, followed by 30 days to polish and prepare your project for inclusion in the KFP bundle. Bundles of games have been around for a while, one you might have heard of is the Humble Indie Bundle, the concept is multiple game creators selling their games together with a pay-what-you-want price tag on a digital distribution channel, in our case Itch.io. This is a great opportunity for a team or individual to earn their first dollar for doing something they love — creating games!

The jam started Friday, June 9 and we already had a plan of what we were going to work on — so we jumped right in after an awesome keynote full of jam tips by Kyle Pulver.
Our project for the weekend was rebuilding one of the first games Eric and I created together back in 2013; Kick Bot! Kick Bot is our most successful game from a sheer number of weekly active users standpoint, it fluctuates between 25k and 40k. That number is partially due to being featured on the Chrome Web Store homepage along with our other game, Scurry. There have also been quite a few YouTube videos made of people struggling through the game! So this new version will be released as an update and gift for all the Chromebook users we currently have.

Kick Bot, a game by Two Scoop Games on display at CodePaLOUsa, Louisville Kentucky June 2017
Kick Bot, a game by Two Scoop Games on display at CodePaLOUsa, Louisville Kentucky June 2017

In Kick Bot, you play as a robot painstakingly engineered for one thing and one thing only – wall jumping! In this brutal endless climber you must test your reflexes and jump from wall to wall avoiding hazards and proving your skill.

We set out with a goal to rebuild the game in Unity so that cross-platform release will be possible for desktop, Chrome Web Store, iOS, and Android. Throughout the course of the weekend things went surprisingly smoothly, because we had an amazing resource available — the Louisville Makes Games community! Many teams in our community have Unity experience and expertise, and we took full advantage of our close proximity to ask lots of questions and learn as much as we could. The community aspect of game jams has always been just as important as the learning for me, and with a community that is humble, helpful, and hoping you succeed, the positive impact can’t be denied.

The process of ‘porting’ our game to Unity went very well. Eric focused on the core gameplay and mechanics and translated all of the math to make the game move and feel just like the original. I focused on converting and cleaning up artwork, creating a new logo, and learning the feature-packed Unity particle system.

kick bot game by two scoop games small explosion

As with all of our game jams, we end Sunday night at 7pm and do presentations of each team and their game. I was proud to show what we were able to complete, it looked like the original game plus more, so we named it “Kick Bot DX”.

Eric Lathrop and Alex bezuska of Two Scoop Games showing their creation Kick Bot DX at the Kentucky Fried Pixels game Jam, Louisville Kentucky June 11th
Eric Lathrop and Alex Bezuska of Two Scoop Games showing their creation Kick Bot DX at the Kentucky Fried Pixels game Jam, Louisville Kentucky June 11th

The plan from here is to spend more time on it leading up to the July 9th end of Kentucky Fried Pixels and get it to a state where it is complete enough to launch on iOS and Android, and sold as part of the KFP bundle on itch.io of course!

Kick Bot DX by Two Scoop Games
Kick Bot DX by Two Scoop Games

The next big hurdle is a marketing plan. We want to give this new DX version to the players and fans on Chrome Web Store as a gift, then point them in the direction of the mobile apps, and start hinting at a sequel with even more features.

You can play the current version of Kick Bot here and buy the Kentucky Fried Pixels Bundle soon! Sign up for the Kentucky Fried Pixels email list to get updates when the bundle is available for purchase!

Cognitively Biased: #Winning the Game Within Your Own Mind

Cognitively Biased: #Winning the Game Within Your Own Mind

On Thursday, May 25th, 2017, Warp Zone hosted Louisville IxDA’s June meetup, “Biases in User Research Created by YOU!” The speaker for the event was Darren Kall, the Managing Director of Specific Clarity. He’s worked with a wide variety of companies like AT&T Bell Laboratories, Microsoft, and IBM. He spoke about a variety of different biases and how they can have an effect on research data. We all have biases. It’s a part of human nature and we wouldn’t be humans without them. Darren made this workshop very engaging by having the audience practice different exercises that helped us recognized a particular bias and we walked away with different solutions we can implement.

This led me to do my own research on bias, how it can affect our decision-making, and some practical ways we can all work on our own bias.

What is a bias?

Before attending this event I was watching a course on Lynda.com by Stacey Gordon called “Unconscious Bias.” Stacey is cofounder and chief human capital consultant at Career Incubator. Her course was very informative. If you didn’t get to attend Darren’s event, you should definitely check out her course. Stacey defines unconscious bias as “the attitudes or stereotypes that effect our views, our actions, and our decision-making ability.”

TechTarget.com defines Cognitive bias as “Cognitive bias is a limitation in objective thinking that is caused by the tendency for the human brain to perceive information through a filter of personal experience and preferences.”

We all see the world through a filter of some sort. Our life experience has kind of jaded us. This can have both positive and negative impact on our judgement. There are a lot of different types of bias and I encourage you to research them on your own. I am going to talk about 3 of them here and I challenge you to search for even more.

Three Examples of Bias

Confirmation Bias

Psychology Today explains that confirmation bias “occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.”

So you have this one track mind and you are determined to see this thing through. You retire team members that weren’t on board. You become the lone wolf on your idea. Who knows if it will work out the way you had hoped. You are just dead set on this one idea and failure isn’t an option. Well, either you are the most ambitious person in the world or you are a victim of your own Confirmation Bias.

Status-quo Bias

WiseGeek.com says “The status quo bias is a cognitive bias that leads people to prefer that things remain the same, or that they change as little as possible, if they absolutely must be altered. This cognitive bias plays a role in a number of fields, including economics, political science, sociology, and psychology, and many studies have been conducted on it to look at ways in which it influences human behavior. By being aware of the role that the status quo bias plays in their own lives, people can take steps to reduce the influence of this bias on their decision making.”

I think everyone is guilty of having a status-quo bias. You’ve used the same staple programs for years and learning something new is a struggle. So as new talent and new ideas are being introduced into your work area, you may be uncomfortable. You were the lead web designer on the team using Photoshop and the new designer on the team is showing people how to design and prototype with Sketch and Adobe XD. So now you feel some type of way. This was the design process everyone was using 5 years ago and now it’s becoming obsolete?

Framing Effect

Pagewiz.com some good definitions on what Framing means. “Framing is the relationship between context and information as it determines meaning.” “Framing is not about what is said, but how it is said.” “…the way words and concepts are presented and “slanted” so that they will produce a wished-for effect”

Marketers and Advertisers love framing. Sometimes you have to bend things a little in order to get a desired result. It’s wrong to outright lie to people, but if you want to sell something, you have to make it attractive to people. Another example is politics. The candidate has to frame their opponent in a negative light and make their platform appealing. Vice versa. The end goal is one candidate will win, the other will lose. Is one political platform actually better than the other? This is where framing gets involved. Using words in a way to persuade people in a certain direction.

Putting solutions into practice

So in what way can we tackle Confirmation Bias? Well, is it healthy to go all in on one idea? Sometimes the most ambitious endeavors pay off. Who said that anything is full proof? Also, there is always risk involved in anything that you do. Just make sure that the moves that you make and the direction you are heading is based on objective facts and not on wishful thinking. Try introducing an unbiased third party or someone who is not directly involved in your department to sit in on the discussion, listen to all sides, and offer some suggestions.

How to get out of being in the Status-quo? Embrace the change and learn to master it. Constantly attend meetups, conferences, and participate in chat groups and forums to keep the conversation flowing; try out new software with an open mind. Start small and work your way up to get acquainted with that new thing. People still use Photoshop to design digital products. Show off how your staple tool can still be relevant. Always be learning.

Do you think that you are the type of person who can’t fall for anything? That you can’t be “sold” on something? People have cognitive bias for and against different words. So things are framed all the time to influence our behavior. Just try to be more rational in your thinking. Don’t jump the gun. Crunch the numbers. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. So don’t let framing frame You!

How this could relate to game development?

There are a lot of games out there. I mean a LOT. So when you think about that next project, you’ve gathered your team, and you’re ready to hit the drawing board, try to minimize the amount of bias in your creative process.

From what I have researched about bias, some of the ways we can overcome our biases is by trying to be as objective, practical, and practice good listening skills. Have a diverse team of people with different backgrounds. The first idea is not always the best. Really test this idea out to its limits. Don’t waste time and money on an idea that isn’t fully vetted. If it’s not a great idea at first, that’s OK. Either perfect it or set it to the side until it can be picked up later. Also, be honest. Don’t let emotion get in the way and be realistic. Don’t try to make it into something that it just isn’t. Finally, communicate with your team. Don’t stay silent. If something’s not right say something. You will either get the answer you need or maybe save the team.

Could this be the ultimate game? Like Final Fantasy? To win against your own cognitive bias? I wonder if that’s possible. Maybe a computer program could. Probably not a human being. But if you could, what would the prize be? $1,000,000? How about I settle for winning the smaller battles and being satisfied with that. In games you have to fail a few times before you can win a battle. I can start over. I can still gain XP and then it’s off to the next stage.

If you have a game you and your team has been working on, we would love to see it. So in the near future we will be hosting more Play Testing Nights at Warp Zone Louisville. If you are not a Warp Zone member, reach out to a member and let’s hang out and try your game. It’s a great way to get feedback and constructive criticism.

Sources

Unconcious Bias
https://www.lynda.com/Business-tutorials/Unconscious-Bias/515183-2.html

TechTarget.com
http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/cognitive-bias

Psychology Today
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201504/what-is-confirmation-bias

WiseGeek.com
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-status-quo-bias.htm

PageWiz
http://www.pagewiz.com/blog/online-marketing/framing-effect

 

Veronica Rivera is a Graphic Designer and Front-End Developer living in Louisville, KY. She has been a part of the Louisville Makes Games community for over a year and loves making games that are fun and colorful. She graduated in Fall 2011 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Western Kentucky University. She works full time as a Graphic/Web Designer for Jefferson County Public Schools and is a Designer and Developer for Rise & Shine Games. Drunken Boss Fight, PolyMorphic, Flip Flap, Cali Bunga, and Guppi are among the games she has helped to create. Favorite games are the Sims, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Tamagotchi, Tales of Phantasia, and Chrono Trigger. You can follow her on social media @justvcreative and Rise & Shine Games @riseshinegames.