By: Oscar J Gomez   |   On: May 8, 2013 - 5:26pm   |   0 Comments   |   talks, meetups, networking, code

I recently gave a talk to the Houston Android Developers Meetup group titled "Insights into Android 2D Game Development". In the talk I covered steps to take to make a full fledged gaming company, game design strategies for the Android platform, how to be successful with popular monetization strategies and I demonstrated some code to get a simple 2D game environment up and running.

The code can be found on my GitHub profile TheOscarJGomez and includes a simple sprite class, an image loader, texture rendering code in OpenGL ES, as well as touch input code to handle single and multi-touchscreen devices. This is basically the same core code I use to start development of a new game.

Networking at these types of events is essential for every entrepreneur to build up the contacts that can connect you to valuable resources. I have met previous business partners at meetups and have built products for individuals looking for developers. Tonight I will be attending the Animate Houston meetup group event at the Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.

Free locally brewed beer, a cool looking glass, and an opportunity to network with fellow game developers is a refreshing change of pace here in Houston. It is no simple task getting connected with other passionate game developers and artists. Due to the size of the city we are few and far between. Although, the game industry is slowly growing and the resources online to get connected are expanding along with it. I will be seeking out a skilled 2D artist to help with some new enemies on my recent Android title Bug Zap.

Lately the game has been receiving numerous downloads thanks to the Google Play Store ranking Bug Zap within the Top Free Games for a short while causing a flood of new players requesting access to the new environments. The game is retaining near 75% of all who download it so now I need to fulfill those requests and require some fresh enemy characters for insect designs I am planning to create. Here's hopping to a successful hunt for the right passionate artist.

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By: Oscar J Gomez   |   On: December 20, 2012 - 5:56am   |   0 Comments   |   augmented reality, zombie, game

Today I was tasked with putting together a game using augmented reality for an Interactive Computer Graphics course I am taking at the University of Houston. So as to avoid real work I immediately got started. I opened up a sample of AndARToolkit I previously had up and running on Eclipse. ARToolKit is an open source library for marker tracking augmented reality. It is available for many different languages. I utilized the Android version available on Google Code which runs amazingly fast on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus I recently picked up from Verizon.

After looking into the source code seeking out the drawing code and how the program is organized I started moving some code around to organize into a better game environment. Other than reorganizing some structure the first addition I made was enabling touch screen, because if interaction is not possible then it will never be a game. After some forty-five minutes of trying to figure out a working implementation I finally had some success.

//adding touch input
Context mContext = getApplicationContext();
touchView = new CustomView(mContext,null,game);
FrameLayout frame = (FrameLayout)this.findViewById(android.R.id.content);
frame.addView(touchView);

Basically I extracted the existing FrameLayout and added a CustomView class which has the actual touch input through setFocusableInTouchMode(true). So now we are ready to receive finger presses. Next I set out to make a second glyph to utilize multiple marker tracking. One marker will be the game scene and any subsequent markers will be players and items. After searching around I found the old ARToolKit Marker Generator I used before when I was working on a AR university educational game project related to teaching logic gates to Computer Science students.

Anyways I drew up a new marker in PhotoShop and hit the generator. Now with two markers ready to go I can start working on the visuals for the game. For the zombies I will not be using thee dimensional models imported from modeling software. Instead I'll be hand crafting characters like the ones in the ultra successful indie game Minecraft. A couple of rectangular prisms and a cube and we got ourselves a retro looking box enemy.

The cool part is I can skin it just like the Minecraft characters which are stored in texture atlases. The trick is to correctly map each section from the atlas to each flat face of the box character. It is not easy to tell which areas match which side of the character.

So I found this great image from Minecraft Skinning Resources and used it as a reference to correctly line up the texture to my rectangular prism character.

So far I am ten hours into the project and the results are looking pretty good. The clean retro pixelated feel is not quite there, but its good enough in my opinion. If anyone has any suggestions to achieve the nice art style let me know. Later on I may include an importer within the app so fans can upload their Minecraft character's skins into the AR game on their devices.

I finally created a Github account, and just learned how to use it. The project and source code is now available on Github. Next up is animations and actual gameplay. Stay tuned!

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By: Oscar J Gomez   |   On: September 14, 2012 - 11:52am   |   0 Comments   |   games, development

Recently I have been revisiting an old passion of mine, video game development. My last commercial game title Pac-Ball surpassed one million downloads over the summer. The relative success of the game has enabled me to be able to live off of this single app and allowed me to pursue other entrepreneurial endeavors. Now that a few companies have come off the ground I am ready to get back in the game development business!

It has been a passion of mine to work on games ever since I was a kid when I saw a glitch in Super Mario 64. The game's camera clipped into a wall and everything behind the scenes was visible. It got me thinking someone put all this together, and I have been reading up on how to make my own games ever since. In my sophomore year of high-school I took a Computer Science course and I built a pong and breakout clone over the winter break. When I got back I immediately demoed it to my teacher and he said "you didn't make that..." I laughed and started explaining the source code.

Since then I've been learning at my own pace hacking away at my own projects always pursuing a challenge I'm interested in. Showing people my games and having them enjoy playing them is where the real goal lies. Which brings me back to Pac-Ball. Since its initial release I have been slowly making improvements, update after update. A year into the project I was able to live off of this single game. It's an amazing feeling being able to create something that people enjoy and on top of that have it produce an income.

Various game ideas always spring up. I try to validate them verbally to my friends and family first before I do any coding. The ones that pass this stage I build rough prototypes purely focused on the gameplay to test out how fun that aspect alone is. Currently I have two prime candidates that I have been chipping away at. These are both worth pursuing to develop into full fledged products and both are fresh IP. Each are being developed for the Android platform so Pac-Ball fans will be excited to get the first crack at them.

The devil is in the detail though so they are still not ready to release. Although, one of these is steadily nearing completion and is about to enter the final stage of polish. It's always fun to see the whole project come together and is one of the best parts of the whole process.

Do not let life and it's many distractions get in the way of your true passions.

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By: Oscar J Gomez   |   On: August 4, 2012 - 11:38pm   |   0 Comments   |   childhood, entrepreneur

Ever since I was a kid I had the drive and passion to be an entrepreneur. At the time I had no idea of such a term or of such a career but had always exuded the lifestyle.

The first business I remember working on was with my brother selling these Creepy Crawlers made from those lightbulb ovens. Those things were amazing as a kid except when the light bulb would burn out, which would be like every five or so uses, or when you'd leave them in for too long and it smelled like burned rubber. Good times. Anyways I ended up selling to encouraging family members for 5ยข each, what a steal!

Later on in third grade I remember trading a coupon book, that allowed students to do different things like chew gum, to a classmate for a bunch of necklaces he had received from a visiting uncle. They were pretty neat looking and I immediately knew I could sell them for $1 each. I started making a bunch of sales and the next day the teacher caught me presenting the necklaces to interested customers in the hall way. I was reprimanded by my teacher for making sales on school grounds and got a letter sent home to my parents. My mom kept the note, she is an entrepreneur herself and an inspiration to me growing up. Looking back I see the education system as an institution stifling the entrepreneurial spirit, although true entrepreneurs will overcome the cog in the machine indoctrination.

The next year my best friend from across the street received an electric ice cream maker which was fun to use. With some capital help from his mom in raw materials we soon set up a home made ice cream stand. We sold vanilla, strawberry and chocolate for $1 in a 8oz cup. After a couple of days of decent sales in front of our homes we set up on the street with the most foot traffic conveniently along the way to the neighborhood pool. The funny thing was we kept the ice cream in his home's fridge so every time we had customers one of us would have to run back and get the order. After one week we made $50 and split the profits, our first real success. We would have continued if we had access to a mini fridge and a power source by the pool.

This type of scrappy entrepreneurship continued on throughout my life. From buying and selling Pokemon cards, which I still have somewhere, to buying hot wheels from friends and selling them online to collectors. The point is this mentality comes from somewhere and lingers with you throughout your life, and after a taste of employment you never forget those happy times where you worked for yourself no matter the age.

My little sister Kaitlyn recently trumped my childhood endeavors while visiting grandparents in Iowa. She set up a lemonade stand with other tasty treats and blew away my records. Her secret was in the timing. She prepared for the day there would be guaranteed traffic, the family feast. This combined with some good old fashioned word of mouth to farm neighbors, ended up racking her $80 in one day!

Tell me your greatest childhood entrepreneurial stories in the comments!

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By: Oscar J Gomez   |   On: August 2, 2012 - 5:12am   |   0 Comments   |   introduction, launch

Welcome to my website. My name is Oscar and I'm on this planet to program. Its been my interest ever since I saw Super Mario 64 camera clip into a wall. You could see everything behind the scenes a bunch of colored triangles all touching to form an environment. My immediate thought was someone put all that together with numbers. Thats when the craving began and its been a fun ride ever since.

My current interests at this point are quick and easy web development and all that it entails to be able to release a full fledged product. To do this I have been working with PHP and MySQL for many years, and have just started getting into jQuery for the front end. You see I'm a back end developer kind of guy. The user facing visual side is my weakness but I'm getting better at it by referencing the most popular sites out there in user interface and design.

Recently I put together a commercial entertainment website to finally test my capabilities. It was really fun to work day in and day out with my team to get a fully functioning site out and into the public scene. Its the first time I use such famous tools like Google Analytics for tracking and Google AdSense for monetizing. Better late than never!

I plan to use the OscarJGomez.com site to demo all of my current projects and explain every cool new thing that I learn in my coding life and as an entrepreneur in the not so techy but growing city of Houston, Texas. I've been meaning to do this for a while. I usually got stuck trying to decide if I should blog for my lifestyle company's site or on the current endeavor I was working on, but now I say screw it! Its time to have an outlet just for myself.

So be sure to check back often. I plan to post up a new blog at least once a week if not more. Back to work!

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