Categories
Game Development Games

Watch the 4th Annual Black in Gaming Awards

On September 13th, the Black In Gaming Awards honored the outstanding achievements and contributions to video games by black game developers and corporate allies.

You can watch the ceremony at: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/740532074

Learn more about the awards at https://www.blackingames.com/

Blacks in Games is a community dedicated to cultivating, supporting, and promoting black professionals in the game industry. BIG is actively working on creating opportunities for Black people in the video game industry while also developing action plans to combat systemic institutionalized racism that manifests itself in unsafe spaces, microagressions and hidden discrimination in the workplace.

The award looks amazing, and it honors pioneer Jerry Lawson, who developed the first cartridge-based game console.

Congratulations to all the award-winners!

Categories
Game Design Games Marketing/Business

Know Who Your Clients Are in Toytles: Leaf Raking v1.4.3

I’m excited to share another Personality Injection update for Toytles: Leaf Raking, my family-friendly leaf-raking business simulation available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

Learn how to get it at the Toytles: Leaf Raking page.

With v1.4.3, you can now more easily tell which of your neighbors are clients and which are ex-clients thanks to the new client status indicators.

In Game - Client Status Indicators

While walking around your neighborhood, you’ll now see a speech bubble next to your client’s home.

If you see a rake, it means the client is waiting for you to clear their yard of leaves.

If you see an angry squiggle, it means the client is getting worried that you are allowing too many leave sit in their yard and are not being responsible.

And if you finish raking all of the leaves in their yard, they’ll show a smiling turtle face.

But if you neglect a yard for too long and lose the client, you’ll see an icon to let you know that you can’t rake that yard anymore. You can still visit the neighbor, but do not be surprised if they are unhappy to speak with you.

Thanks to these changes, your time playing Toytles: Leaf Raking has just gotten a bit easier.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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Categories
Game Design Games Marketing/Business

Chat with Grumpy Clients in Toytles: Leaf Raking v1.4.2

Here’s information about another one of my Personality Injection updates for Toytles: Leaf Raking, my family-friendly leaf-raking business simulation available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

Learn how to get it at the Toytles: Leaf Raking page.

There are two major changes in this release.

Streamline waiting for rain

Waiting for the rain to stop so you can rake a yard is now less tedious. Your options before were to wait 10 minutes or to wait an hour.

The idea is that drizzle starts and stops every 10 minutes, but heavier rain starts and stops at the top of the hour, and so here are two options to match.

But the problem was that you might try to rake leaves in the middle of an hour. For example, let’s say that it is 3:40pm and raining. If you try to rake some leaves, you’ll be told it is raining and given the two options above. The optimal thing to do is to wait 10 minutes twice because it might stop raining at 4:00pm. The less optimal thing to do is to wait an hour, because then it would be 4:40pm. You would lose 40 minutes of time in that case.

But the optimal decision is annoying, especially if it were 4:10pm and you would have to wait 10 minutes five times!

So I changed it.

Now you can either wait 10 minutes or wait until the end of the hour, which is what you were trying to do anyway.

Wait for rain

Hopefully this change makes the game more enjoyable and less frustrating.

Unhappy client dialog

In keeping with the Personality Injection theme, your clients now say something unique when you neglect your work and allow too many leaves to remain in their yard.

You already get a report from your mother at the beginning of your work day to inform you who is getting concerned about their yard, but now when you visit grumpy clients, they can express their grumpiness to you in person!

Mrs. Smith is a sweet elderly turtle who never has anything bad to say about you.

Mrs. Smiths grumpy dialog

Other neighbors are a bit more direct about their displeasure.

Brians grumpy dialog

Future updates will continue to allow your neighbors to share their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and fears with you, as well as the occasional reminder that you have a responsibility to do what you said you would do. I continue to look forward to meeting the neighbors with you.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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Categories
Games Personal Development

Is It Wrong to Ask My Son to Play His Own Game?

We got my son The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Nintendo Switch for his birthday. He has never played a Zelda game before, and I had fond memories of playing it on my Game Boy when I was roughly his age.

In fact, I pulled out my Game Boy and played the original Link’s Awakening while he played on the Switch, partly so I could revisit Koholint Island while he saw it with fresh eyes (and in 3D rendered color).

Links Awakening - Switch and Game Boy

I also wanted to try to get ahead of where he was so that when he had questions about how to proceed, I could be a bit more knowledgeable about what he was dealing with.

But I also believe that a big part of the entire point of playing a Zelda game is to solve the puzzles and overcome the challenges.

Now, my son fancies himself a gamer, but he does not have the same internalized language of games that I grew up on. Specifically, Link’s Awakening very much builds upon the language of the SNES game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. For example, I know that there were some boss battles that mimicked boss battles from the SNES game in that you had to deflect projectiles back at the enemy, but nothing in Link’s Awakening tells you this fact. You just have to try things and figure it out. In fact, that’s probably how the SNES game was, too, and I’m just aware of the clues and norms in hindsight.

So my son struggled on parts of the game because he did not see the opportunities to do Zelda-like things because he didn’t know what Zelda-like things were possible in the first place.

Which is fine. He’s solving puzzles and overcoming challenges.

Except when he wasn’t.

He would ask for help, and I’d try to give him clues or hints without giving away the solution. And most of the time, it worked, and most of the time, I’d hear a report from him that he actually figured out quite a bit of the game on his own.

But multiple times he asked if he could look up the solution to a puzzle on the Internet. And I told him no.

My reasoning: “What’s the point of letting someone else play the game for you?”

I grew up as one of those kids who had Nintendo Power subscription. I knew details about games I didn’t own. I got the free strategy guides they sent out.

But I never liked the idea of playing a game by following a walkthrough or using a strategy guide to tell me how to play a game. Yeah, I could advance faster and have an easier time, but to me, it would feel like cheating.

So I insisted to my son that he play the game and figure it out. I figure he would feel a sense of accomplishment if he did it all by himself that he would never get from doing what he was told by some Internet stranger.

But am I wrong to do so?

Is it wrong for me to insist he plays the game the way I want him to?

I never want to be a gatekeeper and say that Real Gamers ™ play a certain way and everyone else is just pretending. People play games for all sorts of reasons, and who am I to tell them how to enjoy them?

Some people play games for the entertaining story, and I have no problems with them using a walkthrough, strategy guide, or even cheat codes to do so.

In fact, I’ll admit that I got stuck in Link’s Awakening in my replay, and I looked up how to get through a certain dungeon because I’m a grown-up with limited play time and didn’t want to spend the time doing trial and error to figure out which way I was supposed to go. Don’t tell my son I’m a hypocrite.

My intent was for my son to use the game as practice for perseverance. He struggles with challenges, whether in games or not, and often gives up and even says he no longer wants something if he discovers it takes some non-trivial effort to acquire it.

Games are all about learning, and I felt that looking up the answers not only gave him a shortcut in the game but would also make him less self-sufficient when it comes to problems in real life that you can’t take shortcuts to get past.

But we also gave him a game, and then I insisted that he play it differently from how he wanted to. No one did that to me when I was younger.

I suppose I could have told him my reasoning, that I wanted him to want to figure things out on his own for the benefits and practice it gives him, and then let him decide if he wanted those benefits. But based upon previous opportunities to let him decide whether to take the easy route or the more rewarding yet challenging route, I figured he would not care and would simply look up the answers.

So I struggle still. Was I parenting well by preventing my son from what I would consider cheating himself out of the experience and growth? Or was I parenting poorly, forcing him to play a game the way I wanted him to play, taking away his enjoyment and agency?

Maybe it worked out?

As I was writing this post, I asked him about his time with the game, which he has now played through twice. He told me he really liked it. He remembers the game fondly, and he even mentions figuring out how to “get past it” in a positive light. At the very least, it seems he hasn’t been turned off of games, and in fact is now playing his way through Pokemon Sword.

So I hope his experience with the game has prepared him for the future just a bit more. Maybe he’ll be less likely to give up on a math problem that troubles him. Perhaps he’ll stick with a craft project of his own making for longer. It’s possible he’ll be more capable the next time we play Mighty No. 9, a game which provoked so much frustration from him that he quit playing before finishing the first level.

He’s already asked about other Zelda games in my collection. I’m trying to decide if I should introduce the original NES game first, or if I should show him Wind Waker.

I never did finish either game myself. It might be a good challenge for both of us.

Categories
Game Development Games Marketing/Business

Play Toytles: Leaf Raking v1.4.1 – Now with More Personality!

I’ve published another update for Toytles: Leaf Raking, my family-friendly leaf-raking business simulation available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

Learn how to get it at the Toytles: Leaf Raking page.

Version 1.4.1 is part of what I am calling the “Personality Injection” updates. It builds upon the previous update to give the neighbors even more things to say when you visit them.

Your neighbors are now starting to show their individual personalities. For example, Pierre seems friendly when you first meet him:

Pierre's initial greeting

Once he becomes a client, you learn that he is a birdwatcher!

Pierre's a birdwatcher!

Eventually future updates will allow Pierre to demonstrate his love of birds as well as potentially a few of his other interests.

Of course, if you neglect his lawn and get fired, Pierre will find that he wishes he had his free time back:

Pierre's disappointment

Your neighbors are film fans, students, painters, animal lovers, day dreamers, and more.

I hope you enjoy getting to know the neighbors as much as I have been. I can’t wait to find out what Pierre discovers.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

Get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free by signing up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter!

Categories
Game Development Games Marketing/Business

Say Hello to Toytles: Leaf Raking v1.4.0

I just released a new update for Toytles: Leaf Raking, my family-friendly leaf-raking business simulation available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. Learn how to get it at the Toytles: Leaf Raking page.

Version 1.4.0 is a small update that allows the neighbors to express themselves in unique ways.

Toytles: Leaf Raking

Before this update, the neighbors were all mostly interchangeable. They had a unique picture and name, and each had their own house in the neighborhood, but otherwise they were identical in terms of behavior. They could hire you, but then you would never hear from them again unless they fired you.

Mr. Cardinal's greeting

Now you have the option to visit with your neighbors, and they will each have a unique greeting for you.

Even the store owner, Mr. Matt, has something to say, whereas before he only existed in the name of the store and otherwise made no appearance in the game.

Mr. Matt's greeting

This latest version is the first of what I refer to as the “Personality Injection” updates.

My plan is to slowly add multiple storylines for each of the 20 or so neighbors and provide ways for your actions to potentially impact them. For example, Mr. Cardinal, your first client, is an inventor, and one of his storylines will follow his attempts at creating something that gives him the prestige he has always desired.

It’s my attempt to give the game more character, and I look forward to exploring the hopes, dreams, aspirations, and fears of the town’s inhabitants.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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Categories
Games Politics/Government

Mere Hours Left for itch.io’s Racial Justice Bundle

I was surprised to learn that people I know who I consider to be the kind who spend a lot of time in game news didn’t know about this bundle, but the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality sale is about to end in a few hours.

We reached out to our community and an unprecedented number of creators donated over 740 projects to be part of what we believe is the largest bundle ever. Over $3,400 of paid works are available Pay-what-you-want with a minimum donation amount of $5.

All proceeds will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund split 50/50.

What’s amazing about this bundle? A few things:

  • Hundreds of creators joined in the bundle after it started, so now there are over 1,700 items available. Most are games, whether video games or table-top games, but some are tools, asset packs, engines, plugins, audio files, soundtracks, etc.
  • So far, over $7 million has been raised through this bundle. That means each of the organizations are getting at least $3.5 million by the time the sale ends.
  • They’re all DRM-free, and many are available for multiple platforms, such as GNU/Linux, Mac, Android, and Windows, and some are for the PICO-8 (which is also in the bundle), and some are for your web browser.
  • You only need to contribute a minimum of $5 to purchase over $9,000 worth (but feel free to contribute more)!

If you’re into video games, there are some prominent indie titles, such as Overland, Night in the Woods, Celeste, Wheels of Aurelia, Nuclear Throne, Minit, and Quadrilateral Cowboy, among others. There’s…a lot to sift through, and hopefully itch.io makes it easier to peruse the games in the bundle soon.

If you’re into table-top RPGs, there are multiple campaigns, rulesets, and even tools to help create maps. I’m not as informed about what is going on in this area, but I was delighted to see such a variety that wasn’t just D&D.

If you are a game developer, there are design tools such as TTRPG Design Lenses, art packs, audio packs, tilesets, and more. Oh, and PICO-8 is there, so you can make small games for a virtual game console.

It’s amazing how much of the game community came together to make a dent in injustice.

Categories
Games

A Guide to Toytles: Leaf Raking – Kid Safe: No violence

This post is part of a series about Toytles: Leaf Raking, a game that lets you explore basic business concepts, challenges your strategic thinking, and teaches the importance of responsibility and keeping your promises. Get it for both iOS and Android.

The Toytles: Leaf Raking privacy policy can be summed up with “NO ADS, NO IN-APP PURCHASES, AND NO VIOLENCE.”

There is no violence in this game, and I explain my reasons why in the final part of my deep dive.

All games have conflict, but conflict need not be violent in nature. There are plenty of other games which feature violence as a core element, but I wanted to make a game that was more about strategic thinking and that could teach problem-solving without fighting. To read more about my reasoning, click the link above.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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Categories
Games

A Guide to Toytles: Leaf Raking – Kid Safe: No in-app purchases

This post is part of a series about Toytles: Leaf Raking, a game that lets you explore basic business concepts, challenges your strategic thinking, and teaches the importance of responsibility and keeping your promises. Get it for both iOS and Android.

The Toytles: Leaf Raking privacy policy can be summed up with “NO ADS, NO IN-APP PURCHASES, AND NO VIOLENCE.”

In-app purchases can be great in some apps, but there are no in-app purchases in this game.

Click the link above to learn more, but I want to make sure that families can trust that they won’t find themselves with a larger bill than they expected. When you buy the game, you get the game in its entirety.

In the next part of the deep dive, learn why there is no violence in the game.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

Get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free by signing up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter!

Categories
Games

A Guide to Toytles: Leaf Raking – Kid Safe: No Ads

This post is part of a series about Toytles: Leaf Raking, a game that lets you explore basic business concepts, challenges your strategic thinking, and teaches the importance of responsibility and keeping your promises. Get it for both iOS and Android.

The Toytles: Leaf Raking privacy policy can be summed up with “NO ADS, NO IN-APP PURCHASES, AND NO VIOLENCE.”

In the next part of my deep dive, I explain my reasons for having no ads featured in the game.

The bottom line: I don’t want to collect your data or your child’s data to make a living. I want you to have peace of mind that the entertainment your family enjoys is not serving some nefarious purpose.

Next time, I’ll discuss my reasons for not having in-app purchases in the game.

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

Get the 24-page, full color PDF of the Toytles: Leaf Raking Player’s Guide for free by signing up for the GBGames Curiosities newsletter!