Unkasoft's blog, where we talk about mobile games development, gaming industry, agile methodologies and all that matter we're handling every day

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Social networks, IGDA and Linkedin. Contacts in the summit?

It is said that who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure, as we mentioned some time ago. Two years have passed since I use the social network Linkedin and I must say that is has by far passed the expectations which I had in it.

The business world in which we live has evolved in such a way that now the most important aspect is to understand the market in which you work – 3D abilities, games or programming scripts-. But second to this, and not less important, is the art of creating a network of contacts. The greatest expert with no contacts is like a book on the secrets of knowledge which nobody knows where to find it.

The new technologies have eliminated the distances, to know and to work with practically any person in the world is now part of our everyday activities. But, how can that person who is looking for you find you? The key are the social networks and those of your friends within these.

With just a few clicks we have been able to contact with people at Ubisoft in the United States or with distributors in Malaysia. Close to 90% of the contacts which we have carried out at Unkasoft with the objective of studying business possibilities have been successful, these figures are truly impressive.

Beware of the talent spotters! Once inside the network your possibilities of being contacted and tempted by another company will proliferate. It is a Curriculum Vitae which works 24 hours a day during the 365 days of the year.

After the opportunity of speaking with Konstantine, one of the founders of Linkedin, I was searching for ideas to increase the network, who wants to do some Brainstorming?

Personally I observed the following obstacles. The language is the first one which appears, as it is in English. After this, the tiresome task of introducing the information. There is also the problem of starting with no one on the network, how will your network be born? Well I offer myself as a volunteer to be the first…

View Juan Antonio Muñoz-Gallego Gonzalez's profile on LinkedIn

The people at the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) want to create our own network so that all of us within the videogames industry can be connected. It could be a summit of contacts between IGDA and the Linkedin network, knowledge + contacts.

Lests squeeze those pixels

In a firm like ours, where the problem in making videogames for the
mobile enviroment is always the lack of resources to run all the funny
detail we imagine, having the maximum compression level for our graphics is a must. That allows us not only more graphics, but also more behaviours, or more levels or bigger levels in our games.
That's why we pay attention to the compression tools we get across which promises a good performance. To this point we had managed to achieve a fluid working process with complete compatibility with our development app, Unkasoft Platform, and low weight using a three-tools processing.
The base work was done with Photoshop, giving good working speed and versatility at high image weights, but sometimes lacking the necessary compatibility with Unkasoft Platform. After that, and to ensure the compatibility we opened the files and exported them from the free-code application Gimp. The weight goes down, but is still too high.
Last, we have tried several tools specific for the compression of png images, the format used on the mobile enviroment, an come to the, to this point, best tool, which is Pngout.
We started by using the command-line version, assuming a loss of time, but when we noticed the windows version was available and could do batch processing with a even better compression rate than the prior, we immediately acquired it.
Recently we detected some tools the user said to beat pngout capabilities, specifically Xat image optimizer (http://www.xat.com), pngquant (http://libpng.nigilist.ru/pub/png/apps/pngquant.html), and superpng (http://www.fnordware.com/superpng).

The first one is an application which, at first seems very useful. It automates the process of reducing the colour palette using its own algorithm, which gives fairly good results; but, as for Unkasoft, it is not very useful, as we select the colour palette very carefully, even selecting the colours one by one to optimize the product. And, as a compressing tool it is really acceptable, but cant beat the windows version of pngout, and that's why it is not very useful to us.

The next one, pngquant, neither can beat pngout as a compressor, but has a capability that can be extremely useful; It can create a png file with only 8 bit colour information (indexed colour palette) and include another 8 bit channel for the transparency information, thus allowing us to have a 16 bit file with true transparency, instead of the 32 bits Photoshop needs. The images to the left are, the left one a 32 bit photoshop image, and the second a 16 bit pngquant version of it, but to be able to see them correctly you will need a prepared navigator, like mozilla. It seems pngout will support this kind of file, but for the moment being it does not seem to.

And last is superpng, a plug-in for Photoshop which enhances the possible png variants it can export or read, which especially to the Photoshop 7 version is very limited. At the same time, it optimizes the size of the pngs, and that's where it is more useful, as its reduction of weight does not overlap but adds to the reduction achieved by pngout, giving a final file even smaller.

Resuming, this three applications, and specially pngquant and superpng are to be taken in account when it comes optimizing our possibilities without losing image quality.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Finally Alone! … Finally starts IGDA Madrid Chapter… Now SEMINCI –Valladolid.

Unkasoft was there and was a pleasure seeing you there. Almost of the people having games blogs met in Madrid… we used to meet us using nicknames as said JM, and now was time to meet us in the real life. We were face to face with people from Enigma, de Exelweiss, de Atari,…Also we met people who has invest all the time and dreams in this market, people who want to put Spanish videogames industry in a front position, and with one thing in common…the passion for games.

Now is just the beginning and we starting from zero but the time is going to do it possible if we’re willing to push it. But I feel it has started forever.

Go for next event! Unkasoft will be in SEMINCI –Valladolid.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Why don’t we produce mobile games in Spain … IGDA Madrid

Since we have started this mobile games adventure in Spain, we are missing some help. Newspapers send all the time reporting the lack of mobile game production in Spain, and as well the high consumption of these products.

The answer to this enigma is clear… the financial help to other markets as movie industry are not in games industry.

Recently Spanish government is trying to create a new law to help Spanish movie industry to be able to compete to US industry. What are the differences between these industries? Game industry needs help?

Now is time to review the principals. We were delighted to receive the invitation from IGDA to assist to the first Madrid event. Also, I’ve enjoyed a brief chat with Juan Tamargo, foster in launch this event and a professional with a huge history in the game industry. I share his concerns and support the game association could be the solution for games producers. Lots of professional work hard to excite us with their games and deserve be part of something huge as IGDA is.

I hope everything turns out well. We, of course, will be in Madrid actively trying to help.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Educational gaming with SCRUM, mobile entertainment and education

We have just published our first, but not last, educative game; taking into consideration the market boom and the great future expected. If I had to bet by some kind of mobile game, this one would be in my list -with all respect to cassual, mental, social, and adults oriented games.
Our bet has been on "Los Lunnis", and we're sure that children will learn a lot enjoying the lessons of Lupita, Lucho and the rest of characters.

Development game.
The idea is based on a production with a game for each character of "Los Lunnis": Lucho, Lupita, Lucila y Lublu. This variety avoids the routine of always seeing the same character again and again.
Each game consists of three minigames, so... do you imagine developing this for 250 different mobiles? phew! with the current jungle in J2ME...I say "current" giving it a hope vote to standars like OMA, but the truth is that i am sceptical about it seeing the current outlook- they have been speaking years about it and everything remains the same.

Time and resources first estimated on this project frightened us at first glance, but the fact is that the project was done in less than three weeks with 2 developers, 1 game designer and 1 graphical designer; how is this possible? The answer is simple: SCRUM and Battlewizard!!!.
Since the game consists of several minigames we decided to divide the project into independent projects. Each project would have its part of design, development, QA, etc... It was important that when we will begin a game the previous was finished.

The image shows how was really important that every step had been carried out to keep progressing. The great advantage that Battlewizard gave us was that we thought in a single code.

Though we didn't had any intention to use SCRUM, finally we found some of its ideas very useful, e.g: We did a list of game funcionalities(Backlog) was based in the game story, also we did iterations which result was a minigame completely functional(Sprint). We used the blackboard of the image like Sprint Backlog, and of course compromise and teamwork.

The keys for project success:
1º The project was approached to the educational content.
2º Planning.
3º Design.
4º Teamwork.
5º Compromise.
6º And of course Battleward.

Now we hope the market will receive with delight our bet on eductional games and we'll keep working in this line.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?