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Current Projects: Americana Engine (Game Engine Development)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fall 2012 in Concepts

Things change - people come and go, and in the long run, the only thing that matters is the big picture - there's a whole world to see and explore. As well as a handful of close friends to share experiences and stories with.

Fall 2012 in Concepts takes a different approach to images - it focuses less on just displaying pictures and places emphasis on various concepts - such as the programming side, covering a variety of topics set for this semester. Although originally started in 2012, this page contains info that goes well beyond that.

This project was revealed on November 14, 2012, and this page is regularly updated.


Four years ago, I started the Day Zero Project. One of my goals was to enclose a message to the future, both what it looked like now and expectations. A few months ago I happened to read it over again. Surprisingly, most of the predictions stated happened to be true in one way or another. As a result, upcoming pictures will take a dramatic change, from pics directed to certain groups to personal interests and (possibly) reference material.

Several things factored into this change as well: Decline of ZB searches (the MAU has dropped a further 40% since the relaunch), Lack of CKI people noticing the blog (the lack of a high rank contributed to this), and lack of interest on the local scale. Essentially, other than the fame brought on by several noteworthy articles, I didn't even exist in the interwebs. Full reasoning is displayed here.

Knowing this, it was time to develop something new - concepts over applications. They may have been developed by others, maybe they haven't. There's many things that haven't been discovered yet, leaving new areas to contribute in and new opportunities. Most of the people who I once knew have either forgotten me entirely or don't know me well enough, so I can make a new impression. Looks like I've got another chance.

Table of Contents:

The following will be moved to another page when possible as this is only an intro page. Under construction and will have additions.

Tech Related:

Covers anything technology related (reviews, etc). The number of reviews is directly proportional to how much funding I receive to test new products.

Reviews and Stuff:

Programming / Portfolio Material:

Covers applied programming used for creating projects that would be considered portfolio material (which happens to be practically anything programming related), with the exception of game programming (see below).

Excel VBA:


UOP Class Related:

Covers more specialized topics.


Gaming Concepts:

Covers any concepts or reference material related to games. They still fall under 'Original Content' to an extent.

Zuma Blitz Kroakatoa:

Every other article that covers various concepts on Kroakatoa Island as well as programming aspects of Zuma Blitz. Would like to implement fixes and balance changes in the game, but there's nothing I can do about it (although I can report bugs with higher priority) so these are just concepts. These posts do NOT include level summaries (though they are concepts themselves).

I abandoned the FB version of the game in December 2013, in order to work on a independent version of the game with more features than Kroakatoa and improving game balance (meaning less grinding and not having to rely on hundreds of friends and a third-party app to keep your coin stocks up). As of December 2014, the game no longer appears to be updated.

Diablo 3:

An RPG with the ability to trade items with other players via the auction house. But it starts to get serious when real money gets involved. Six months too late, though. You can still profit, just not in the hundreds of dollars. (At least maybe until PvP) I unfortunately failed to sell enough to buy HOTS in full, so I decided wait for the expansion and start with 200 million gold in assets.

By the time Patch 1.0.8 arrives 'craft all' will be introduced greatly reducing the time it takes to craft high grade gems and higher quality drops are much more frequent making profiting from the game a thing of the past since the ratio of Gold to Dollars is (as of Apr 2013) 15.4 million to 1.

Note all the following are old topics, since the Auction House no longer operated in March 2014, and EHP is represented as Toughness (I'm guessing it's the average of all your resists) in the expansion.

Americana Dawn (Programming)

A historical RPG with JRPG elements and an emphasis on open world exploration where your choices (either in battle or in the game world) can potentially alter later events in the game, although the main storyline is linear.

Originally intending to review the game when it came out (and providing commentary during testing), I was recruited as a Lead Programmer in 2013, making some key decisions on the overall design process of the game, as well as building a new game engine for this. This is the first project that I built one from scratch using C++ and DirectX. Named the Americana Engine, it was used to create the maps for the trailer and beta versions, as well as for some other personal projects.

The current version of the game is Beta 2 (released March 20, 2015) before Bit Bonton became defunct and the game engine got switched over to Unity. I have since chosen to step down as Lead Developer in mid-2015, providing commentary while continuing game engine progress as a side-project (Americana: Foundations) containing a number of modifications originally suggested but not implemented during the development process, a set of editing tools, as well as an open-source game engine. I have yet to find a single person to try it, but it's available for free for those wondering.

Screenshots that used the Americana Engine can be found on the #screenshotsaturday page.

Development Notes on this blog are split into two sections; both will feature a demonstration of features that are present in the most creative manner possible. Most screenshots here are blog-exclusive content / maps produced within the game engine during development (including map scripting), and they will later be made available since it acts more like a portfolio in this case.

Official Game Links: Main Page - Twitter - Tumblr - Facebook Page

Posts related to the Americana Engine:

Posts specific to Americana: Foundations (side-project):

  • Macrobattles: Cut Features
  • Macrobattles: Battle Simulations (as in multiplayer, custom maps and units)
  • Item Crafting
  • Trading via Shops, Side Quests, Etc.

Posts specific to Americana Dawn (development stages - may not be updated as game content may change substantially):

References: Posts related to shops and item crafting makes mentions to both Teresa Chan and her Etsy store Greenteagrass; the in-game shop is mentioned in the Beta demos and plays a key role in AD:F. There may be references to other people or media there in the future (I'm planning on including CKI shoutouts somewhere), and will be listed here as they are put up.

Additionally, there a lot of minor ones in the (blog-exclusive) tech demo, usually subtle (item/skill names) or out of the way.

Other Games:

Concepts for fast completion, reference, etc.

Other Concerns:

Something that makes them... either greedy in online games or not quite right anywhere else.

Exploration / Events:

Covers anything related to exploration and events (note this doesn't directly fall under Concepts)

Good Deals

Because some good discounts aren't always clearly visible. See the links for more details.

Design Concepts:

  • (Proposed) Selection Techniques
  • (Proposed) Filling in areas in small spaces
  • (Proposed) Layers, etc.

Design Examples:

Covers any type of design example or work I've done, whether it be from CAD or Photoshop work. Also gives a category on the bottom a reason to be there. Note: Not intended to be exposed to Capital Division until they are FB official. Although I am reluctant to put up suggestive parodies, I relaxed this after Angelle had no problem with creating suggestive Vindictus artwork.)

CKI Sketches cover CKI people who were deemed important in the author's point of view prior to January 2013. Occasionally Game Related Drawings or other OC Sketches may arise when I can think of a way to make it creative, they will be put up when I finish them.

I wasn't at all interested in drawing fanart or stuff which is already popular, however drawing or making stuff based on ordinary people who I know (or somewhat know) in person fits my niche, popularity might be limited in these areas but it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make.

  • Any proposed images from Fall 2011
  • CKI Sketches (proposed list will be updated when I get time to do this)

Bead Sprites:

I felt this needed a section on its own since there are 20 of them planned and sprites are large scale (occupy at least 4 grid spaces). They will be stored on FB available to Public with comments enabled, with a privacy change delay of 12 hours to prevent it from showing up on newsfeed. Bead sprites are not preserved when a new one is made due to lack of grids, a decent iron, and someplace to store it (or sell it to). I'm trying to base them out of images which weren't 8 or 16-bit sprites originally.

Production was suspended in 2013 due to a time crunch on other things.

For those wondering, CKI Logos use up 10,000 beads minimum, and have a selling price of $50. Other than that, they are taken down after a few months.

  • Capital Division (May-June 2012) - initial run. Very positive feedback with 29 likes on it, the most on any post I have made on FB.
  • T.O.P (Anthyvy Fanart Version -> Sprite Version) (March 2013)
  • Zuma Blitz Spirit Turtle (March 2013) - slightly color customized from the original.
  • CKI, Desert Oasis Division (July 2013) - with minor modifications.
  • CKI, Metro Division (modified)
  • Other CKI Division Logos (Central Coast, Desert Oasis, Golden Gate, Foothill, Magic Kingdom, Metro, Paradise, Sunset) - This may be time intensive and essentially b/c I'm more of a completionist as I don't expect people from other divisions of CNH to notice them.
  • Sac State Squirrel (Logo from Jamaica Me Service from 2011-2012.)
  • Yin-Yang Dragon (MCHS logo proposal)
  • Concept: Bead Sprite Shading

Pointed Out:

Covers anything "not quite right" that I have pointed out - the issue may or may not be fixed. Ranged is limited to common stuff and any material belonging to someone up to a friend of a friend. Trying for 'constructive criticism' here. Opinion only, though many things mentioned here were eventually changed one way or another. If there's no link an explanation need not apply.

(Does not fall into the concepts category)