Jeff Hangartner – Revealing the Path Less Travelled in Video Game Industry

Jeff HangartnerJeff Hangartner, the founder of the gaming start-up, Bulletproof Outlaws has been a professional developer of games over the last half a decade. Creator of Pixelation, the 1st Pixel Art Forum and also originator of the Pixel tutorials which have been published in the form of a book. Jeff has always been a pioneer of the gaming industry.

CG Today is proud to present Jeff’s exploration as he shares the whole process of creating a start-up right from day 1. With the belief that gaming development is coming back to its original “one programmer in the basement roots” idea, Bulletproof Outlaws is chronicling every step of its start-up process from strategies, to marketing, setting goals and outsourcing, successes and failures. The aim is to help other developers who have ideas but are intimidated by the whole start-up process and are not sure how to go about it.

You can visit his website Bulletproof Outlaws to know more about him or send an email to get connected.

Bulletproof Outlaws - Game 1 - A Diary of a video game studio!

I played an awesome game today called Pro Zombie Soccer by Chillingo. It’s got some hardcore polish to it, I think visually it’s amazing.  I’d love to put out games of that quality.  A friend and I compared how long we played it for, and both of us moved on after maybe 15 minutes of playing.  It’s not the game’s fault, I think it’s new features and levels and plot are well-distributed… you get to see all 3 of your special attacks really early on, and there’s cutscenes with a really cool story every few levels.

Here’s a rough of the ninja doing a wider dodge.  I don’t know if this’ll actually make it in, I just needed a break from re-sizing art and looking at numbers and filling out forms all day so I doodled this quick haha  I’ve got Camtasia and I tested it out and it doesn’t slow my laptop down so I should be able to record some actual drawing when I get to making new art for this game down the road.  Looking forward to putting some of that up because I always like watching those videos and seeing how other artists draw!

Bulletproof Outlaws - Ninja Flip

Today I got the major workload of the old animations all set up.  This has been kind of a pain for me because I’m not just doing it, but I’m trying to come up with an efficient repeatable process I can use for the future. You can ALWAYS slog your way through grunt-work, but if you can come up with Macros or use a certain order of steps, etc. to speed it up, it’ll pay off in the future even if it means the first time you do it takes longer while you figure that out.

This is going to be a fun week!  I’m almost at the point where I get to start drawing/re-drawing new art. Because I started with a game that I already had some art done for, and I had to find a good workflow for converting it all to various screen-sizes I haven’t been able to do the FUN stuff like making new art…which will also be the more interesting stuff to anyone reading this blog regularly haha  But the video below signifies my passing into the next stage of making actual progress:

Sure, this LOOKS like it’s just the same video from a few updates back.  But no!  It’s actually much awesomer because the guy on the left is for the iPad and the guy on the right was generated from the iPad guy’s art/animations and everything the guy on the right does should be in exact proportion for his size to the guy on the left.  The timing should be dead on too, so in theory all versions of my game will play exactly the same down to the frame timing.  I was REALLY worried I’d have to re-animate everything by hand for different screen sizes, so this makes me happy!

I’m actually changing up my workflow a bit. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m planning to out-source the programming to a freelance programmer or group of programmers from freelance sites.  Originally I was going to try to work in-sync with them, so I’m making the art as they program, because that’s the traditional method, working hand-in-hand and bouncing ideas off each other.  But I’ve got this game planned out down to the pixel in my head and in the Game Design Document, so I know what art I’m going to need and how it’s all going to link together… as long as I provide the resources to the programmer, they should be able to construct the game without me doing more than checking in on their builds and sending lists of tweaks to make.

I’m doing up the rain effect today.  I’m hoping to get this game to run smooth on older devices, so I wanted to make the rain easily modifyable.  I’m not sure how many sprites Cocos 2d can push at a time on, say, a 2nd gen iPod Touch… I’m sure I don’t have anything to worry about, I’m not making Smash TV here or anything, there’s basically a ninja, some stuff being thrown at him, and a couple background images, but I always like to stay on the safe side because it’s way nicer to find out you have excess memory at the end of the project than find out you don’t have enough haha

My early days in the game industry were spent working on cell phone games where we’d make an S60 version, which would be something like 260×320 and let us do badass full screen art and everything.  But we’d have to then make an S40 version, which was like 120×208 and way less powerful so I’d have to replace artsy backgrounds with color bar gradients and stuff.  We also had to do a third version… S30 maybe?  Can’t quite remember.

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Bulletproof Outlaws Diary