Hatchlings Games

Web Gaming 2.0 Revolution

Quasr Alpha Tournament Ended

The tournament is over and masamunemaniac is the winner with 16 wins and 1 loss (to jarodfjk). Jarod was second and fishy third. Solidx and I shared last place with one game played and loss. The three of them will be given a special item during BETA (or maybe pre-BETA) depending on which is appropriate.

Jarod organized a post-tournament party (with no alcohol unfortunately). We did watch two comedy, Shaun of the Dead and Scary Movie 4. None of which I will recommend.

Here are the rest of the screenshots:

Masa vs Bluewall

Masa vs Bluewall: There was a fatal error with the game after close to 2 hours so they played in this neat ajax app called PaintChat. In the end masa won.

 

 

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July 2, 2007 Posted by | Quasr, Quasr Tournament | 1 Comment

Quasr Alpha Tournament Screenshots

There were some interesting games played and interesting bugs killed. Here are some screenshots:

Quasr Alpha Tournament 1 - masa vs fishy

Tournament favorite masamunemaniac vs fishy (fishy POV)

Quasr Alpha Tournament 1 - kuan vs crazyplayer

kuan (red) vs crazyplayer (blue)

To be continued…

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June 30, 2007 Posted by | Quasr, Quasr Tournament | 1 Comment

Encephalon in Production : Day 13

An older blog draft by Roshan. I thought of posting this up for old-time sake.

8th February 2007

Dear bloggers, we are facing some minor problem in the production team. There will be reshuffling of roles in our team with more additional team members within a few days. Especially, the web development team should have more web programmers.

Last night, we attended a meeting by MobileMonday. It was amazing to blend with people from various backgrounds. Learned a lot from the successful entrepreneurs who were present yesterday. It shows how fast is the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry is moving in Malaysia. Not to forget the lovely food and beverage served.

June 30, 2007 Posted by | Encephalon, Game Development, Quasr Updates, Working Environment | Leave a comment

Rushing into Quasr Alpha Tournament

Here is the report from Jarod posted on BaseCamp, our internal project management site.

Date: 29th June 2007
Time: [GMT +8] 9am – 1pm

There were some hassle of getting the game to deploy to production because of some bug here and there. It took some time to settle everything. We chose to implement various temporarily fixes for the tournament. The game started with many Hatchlings Games members in the lobby; some with duplicated usernames (johntan and DrAlpha, jarodfjk and bartholomew).

We had a problem with the spectator mode as it was not fully tested before deployment. Fortunately there were no critical problems for the moment that didn’t have at least a temporary and quick solution. So we proceeded with the tournament.

One of the problem we encountered was with a game that ended in a weird way. Full details of this game and others can be found in the forum. Also, the recently added spectator mode created some hassle for players. The first tournament game between johntan and fishy ended with their win/lose record swapped. johntan lost but was awarded a win and vice-versa. The same problem occurred with the game between Augustine and Zy Hao.

Some of the problems we had were:

  • Game viewing problem with the card view display in not correct style.
  • Aspect froze game temporarily.
  • Number of draw card is not displayed correctly.
  • Whacker abilities are still not playable.

My (jarod) conclusion:

  • There is a minor problem with the code structure for data implementation. [fixed]
  • Spectator mode will be disable until further notice from Zy Hao. [fixed]
  • johntan/fishy and zyhao/augustquasr wrongly recorded win/lose requires some fixed Kuan. [fixed]
  • Kuan and Zy Hao still has to identify the card and board viewing matters. [fixed]
  • For the aspect-froze-game bug, we come to a conclusion that it might be caused by a network connection related problem. There were no major indication on the code side.
  • Kuan is fixing the whacker’s ability.
  • I received feedback that the new UI looks quite nice and that the fonts in lobby are too big (impact all caps).

Extra Note: Overall I satisfied with the current situation of Quasr as we eventually move on to second stage of debugging. We all (Kuan, Leong Kee, solid, Augustine, Kwang, Zy Hao) fixing it all night for the launch of Alpha Tournament. Some decision been made temporarily to enable the tournament going as planned.

I just thought of sharing that with you guys. There were many more games played during the second session of the tournament and lesser in the third but overally the tournament was good. Too bad I was sick again (one of my internal nickname is firegod) or I would have played some more games. I am proud of the guys and hope that the tournament will provide many insights that can be turned into a great game.

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Quasr Alpha Tournament is near!

Good day everybody! For your information, Hatchlings Game Studio will launch the first Quasr Alpha Tournament this coming Friday and Saturday. Details

I am very excited because both the testers and the development team can have fun competing in the tournament and at the same time they can share their ideas and opinions to improve Quasr.

Besides that, players can learn strategies from other players. They also can share ideas to create new strategies. Something like Immobilizer+Whack. More strategies to be discovered, so do drop by our forum!

If you are not an Alpha tester of Quasr yet and would like to help us test the game. Please www.quasr.com.

Your participation would be a great support to us!

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The evolution of Igna, or how Quasr isn’t Magic

(Note: This article requires the knowledge of the game. To learn how to play Quasr, please visit the Quasr website to sign up. But I’ll try to make it as general as possible.)

Now that Quasr is online for some time already, I figure it’s about time to talk about the design and development of the game. I’d start with a general article, but it seems like I’ve written it already. Check out “The color pie and the color salad bowl“. I’ll go into slightly more specific subjects, in the mean time touching on some history of the game, and how did it come about.

I can’t talk about Quasr without mentioning Magic: the Gathering – Indeed, if there’s one game that changed my life, it has to be Magic. Back in early 2000 I was studying high school in Singapore. I just checked in to my dorm after the year-end vacation, when I noticed my room-mate and few other friends playing ‘poker with pictures’ in the room. It didn’t take me long to get hooked to Magic. Now, studying abroad under scholarship and staying in a Presbyterian hostel isn’t the best time and place to start investing in a ‘Satanic’ (as my teacher puts it) game. I’ve gotten into a fair share of trouble which I don’t want to mention again.

Two years later and I was in junior college. That meant a new dorm as well as new room-mates. Among my five room-mates, one was, for a lack of better terms and I hereby ask you, Michael my ex-room-mate, for your forgiveness, a chess freak. While my other room-mates were quite accommodating of playing any game, Michael and I seemed to be at two ends of the gaming spectrum. I never understood chess for the lack of strategic thinking, and he never understood Magic for reasons that I don’t know. Oh, and there’s Edison, who doesn’t play anything other than Diablo 2, until I introduced Magic and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to him.

Quasr, then titled ‘Battle Chess’ for a lack of imagination and product research, was born in search of the middle ground between Chess and Magic. The rules are a combination of both – defeat your opponent’s ‘King piece’ (the Aspect) using cards from a deck you build. There were numerous iterations between the first design and the current one (In fact, the current version that you see on the site is undergoing some changes as well). These changes happen when we learn new things that we never knew before. One thing we did not know was how strong direct damage can be.

Due to the expanding nature of the game, one of the aspects of Quasr design was conserving design space for future use. For each ‘faction’ (in quotes because of the lack of a better term;we wanted to change it but have not thought of a replacement yet), the idea was to pick a strategy and go all the way with it. This leads to several problems along the way, but right now I’ll just talk about ‘Igna’.

Igna was one of the three starting ‘factions’ of Quasr. Each of the three factions corresponded to a creature stat (Windia, whose details I shall leave unwritten for now, corresponded to the now-obsolete ‘Movement’ stat, or how many squares a creature can move per turn). Igna’s stat, as it turns out to be not too hard to deduce if you have played the game, is Attack (ATK). Igna’s creatures have been big-fisted and small-butted ever since the first card list, as the saying goes “Offense is the best defense” – When you’re busy attacking, there’s no need to hold back. The idea of ‘attacking’ extended from just creatures to Hacks, the ‘spell cards’ of Quasr. This is where the problems started, and the whole point of this article.

There was this one little card in Magic that I stole into Quasr:

Shock felt generic enough to be in any card game that had creatures and combat. It feels just like ‘extended combat’ – attacking with something else when your creatures can’t. Thus, a similar card found its way into Quasr’s set file.

Whack
R
Hack
THIS deals 2 damage to target creature or Aspect.

The ‘R’, which stands for ‘Range’, is the card’s cost, defined by either the number of rows or columns between the player’s Aspect and the target, whichever is greater. Soon enough its cost was increased to R+5. It might not even make it past the next iteration.

Balance is a tricky thing. Just because it’s a common that doesn’t get played in Tier 1 decks in one game doesn’t mean that the same card would not dominate in another game with slightly different rules. The difference – the board – turned out to be not so slight this time. Whack, in a land of one-grid-per-turn movers, was considered ‘cheating’. It was the gun in the fistfight, the Brazilian in the Malaysian football team. It could take out a creature from a distance, or a finishing blow to an Aspect being hurt by similar cards (Igna is full of these). While the Igna player gains no card advantage by scrapping a creature with Whack (what is known as a ‘one-for-one’ trade), it makes up by gaining the player tempo advantage – You save the amount of turns used to move towards your target and attack it. This advantage is even more significant when a creature can only move one grid per turn, a rule implemented to counter the imbalance of fast movers. (We’ll talk about this another time.)

Playtesting makes it so clear that the addition of the board into Quasr makes it so much more different from Magic. A more experienced game designer might spot that out immediately but hey, we’re all learning.

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June 26, 2007 Posted by | Game Design, Quasr | 4 Comments

First Quasr Alpha Tournament

Hatchlings Games proudly announce the first ever Quasr Alpha Tournament .
Below are the details for the Alpha Tournamnent :

Date : 29th June 2007 – 30th June 2007

Time : [GMT+8] 9am-5pm , 9pm-5am

Prize : Special promo Card for top 3 players.

Be an alpha tester to join our Tournament.

Continue Reading:

After hours

In the darkness, on the soft earth, the First Being lay.

The strange world, thoroughly barren in every direction the boy looked, had areas of light and shadow. He had crossed a border a while ago, a blurry line, slightly jagged from the bumpiness of the ground. Stepping across that border marked the instant transition from light to darkness. The First Being looked back, trying to find the Lightgiver through the buzzing purple and green objects in front of his eyes.

The Lightgiver was still there, though only a sliver of white light was seen from his angle. In the darkness he could still see his hands and feet, as well as the bluish wings of his friend. The wings gave off a very faint glow, invisible under the Lightgiver but now illuminating the air around him.

“If only I could bring the Lightgiver with me,” the First Being mumbled. His friend nodded nonchalantly.

“Why not try crafting it?” His friend asked.

The First Being did not say another word. He closed his eyes and channeled power into his fingers, still lying down. He pictured the Lightgiver in his mind, focusing on crafting the essence of Light on his fingertips.

A seed of Light formed on his palm. Then leaves, stems, roots. The seed swelled into a bud, and burst into petals.

Beneath his eyelids, the First Being sensed light. He opened his eyes. Hovering above his palm was a plant. A flower with petals of yellow and white, curving up towards a center, where a fuzzy ball of light bobbed lazily.

Forgetting his fatigue, the First Being got up on his feet and planted the flower into the earth. Focusing energy in his palms again, he crafted another flower, and another…

The standard working hours in Hatchlings is 2pm to 12am. Most of the people leave a the strike of midnight. Choo just picked up the habit of staying in the office until 3am. Kwang will not be here until Wednesday. Slade went off to fetch Iris from the airport… so right now, at 5.51am, it’s just me.

Our office has this small extension room, which is meant to be the storeroom another company’s room. So far they have not turned up, so we gladly took control.

The room is about a third the size of our office, though it can comfortably fit 4 (or even more) if the authorities would just throw away the dozen or so broken monitors (hence, ‘storeroom’). Choo’s PC takes up the other corner in that half of the room.

On the other half is a couch and two mattresses. Slade and I usually sleep there after hours. I mean, not together. That’s why there are, you know, two mattresses. And a couch. Right? Usually Slade takes the thicker mattress and I take the couch. And we’ll have nightmares of each other.

After office hours is pretty much casual time. Sometimes Iris, Slade and I will have a casual discussion on game design (Yes, work can actually be relaxing… but only at night), otherwise I’ll be goofing around on my Nintendo DS. I usually pass out at about 7am, just when the sun rises.

Cyberjaya is very sparsely populated at night, largely due to the fact that most of the land here is occupied by offices. No cars on the street. Just streetlights and lights from hourses far away. A medley of yellow and white.

The future crafters came to the world, and stunned by the flowers’ radiance, named the area the Glimmermeadows.

June 19, 2007 Posted by | Hatchlings Games, Quasr, Quasr Concept, Working Environment | 2 Comments

Games & Programming in My Life

Hi, I’m Lim Leong Kee. This is my first post in Hatchlings blog. I will start with my history then my current work.

I work as a full-time game programmer in Hatchlings Games Studio under an Industrial Training Program. The company is developing a game named Quasr, which is an online trading card on board game. I’m currently working on the client side game programming.

How did I involved in the project – Quasr?

Kuan invited me to work on the game with him. Back then Kuan was working on the client side but now he is the lead programmer of Quasr. The programming design pattern used the MVC (Model-View-Control). We divide the work into parts. Kuan did the model and control part for each object in the game (by the way, our code is in OOP – Object-oriented Programming). I did the view which is the user interface.

The client side programming uses Action Script 2 to code and it is suitable to be written using OOP, Object Oriented Programming. Although I learnt OOP from University but I my thinking and programming weren’t in OOP. Working on Quasr forces me to change my mind into an OOP state. I love OOP so much because every object is separated neatly and changes are easy to be made in future. OOP is fun. I gained a lot from Quasr.

Games greatly influence my life. I wanted to be a game creator when I made first contact with console games. I was 8 and I didn’t know how a game is made or what was used to create a game. I first made my own game using pen and paper.

In the search of a way to make games I was often attracted by applications that create moving graphics. I thought that was the way to made games but I realized what I did was just animation.

Later, some games came up with map editor. My first experience with Map Editor was Starcraft. I used its map editor to create a lot of mini games and campaign.

I was going to give up on creating games until I found Macromedia Flash. I bought a Macromedia Flash Book with the Flash MX software from a bookstore in KL. This book answered a lot of questions and the road to my dream is closer…

I am very happy that I am part of Hatchlings Games Studio.

Hatchlings is a team. We work together to make Quasr a success. Best of all, we keep learning. I did the client side while Kuan on the server side. We fix game bugs found by our game testers. I enjoy my current work since I love programming a lot. Last Friday (15 June), we finished all the game elements and fixed all the reported bugs. All the card abilities can be used in game. I haven’t got the time to make the effect animation for each abilities. It is playable at Quasr.com. The game is still imbalance. The new game design will be confirm on this Friday (22 June), so I may have a rest or learn other new things before that day comes.

Quasr Alpha tournament will be held on 29 June to 2 July in this year. We are expecting to get the great responses and comments from our game players. Hope that Quasr will be everyone’s favourite game. I want to join the tournament too!

June 17, 2007 Posted by | Hatchlings Games, Quasr, Sharing | 4 Comments

The agitated gamer, and other mildly amusing anecdotes

… It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

That was what the low-polygon professor from Brain Age told me when I, on a fine day, thought I’d do some elementary math after two months of… doing something else.

Brain Age is one oddity. Last weekend I brought my Nintendo DS Lite home for the first time (seven months after I bought it), my younger sisters were naturally attracted to its ‘weird controls’, but my parents were wary – Both of them are primary school teachers for about 25 years now, and as far as primary school education goes, games and television are bad for children.

I wasn’t too surprised when I saw my mum hogging the DS a few days later, trying to break my record for 100x Calculations on Brain Age (1 minute, 1 second). I said nothing, and just smiled. I don’t think Brain Age or the DS would break their “Games are bad for children” mindset, though I suppose they’ll be referring to the DS as ‘the GameBoy with the maths game.’

It always happens – The general public merely takes the lowest common denominator and uses it as a norm. That’s why any instant noodle here is called ‘Maggi’, any chocolate drink is ‘Milo’, any image editing program is ‘Photoshop’. I didn’t do any tedious research, but here are the five media stereotypes that currently irk me the most. And in no particular order (but it just sounds more exciting when done in countdown):

#5 The conspiring friends

This one’s pretty common, and I’m sure that I’m not the first one to talk about it. Here’s the scenario: Little Jimmy was a quiet little boy, until his ‘friends’ introduce him to cigarettes, Ecstasy, pornography, video games or whatever is the current social ill. Little Jimmy got himself addicted to said vice, and his personal and social life slowly crumbles into a mess. A tearful confession full of regret ends the message with a powerful note.

Witness the power of testimony. It’s always “I drank and drove and lost both my legs”, never “My friends got me into smoking and we all got lung cancer.” What happened to said victim’s so-called friends? They’re pretty much never heard of again once the protagonist falls far enough. Sometimes you’d think if ‘the rest’ are conspiring against the poor guy.

The influence of testimony doesn’t stop here. Remember your visiting aunt, who told you that sleeping after 11pm will give you prostate cancer, or the friend who is sure that Sonic will be in Super Smash Brothers Brawl because he read it in a forum thread started by this guy whose uncle works at Nintendo (Personally, I sure hope Sonic will be in SSBB). It doesn’t matter that radiation from microwave oven would not cause cancer even when there’s a scientific explanation behind it, to some people radiation is radiation. It’s just so convenient to get ‘facts’ from friends, and when something bad happens it’s always their fault.

Which would lead me to my next point…

#4 The ‘Brand X’

My country, Malaysia, is a country that likes superlatives. Everything has to be the ‘biggest’, ‘fastest’, ‘first’. True story: There’s this banner in front of my apartment complex, proudly advertising a fishing competition with ‘the highest prize money in the country’. Imagine winning twelve thousand ringgit (That’s about US$3,500) in a fishing competition.

With that out of our way, it’s not hard to think of an advertising plan in Malaysia: you just have to compare it with something else, and somehow show it’s better. That brings us to the ‘Brand X’.

Sample TV commercial: A guy in a lab coat interviews this young woman. “I used to have dandruff problems”, says the woman, smiling, as she twirls her finger in her hair, “but after using [name of shampoo being advertised], my hair is shiny silky smooth!” Obviously, said brand of shampoo is better than ‘the others’ because ‘the other shampoos’ don’t solve her dandruff problem.

Some advertisements take it further by introducing the ‘Brand X’, the perpetually unnamed victim of inane advertising campaigns. Invoking the law of typicality, as long as something is better than something else of its league, it’s better than any other item of its kind by inference. This brand of detergent washes away grease stains better than ‘Brand X’? ‘Brand X’ might as well be a bucket of paint.

#3 The ‘and more’

…Because, well, the supposedly main attraction just isn’t enough.

Pardon me for naming names here, but I’ve been long irritated by The Chicken Rice Shop‘s tagline. “Chicken Rice… and More” – it doesn’t take half a brain to think of that. Imagine a world of and-mores:

KFC – Fried Chicken… and More!

Dell – Computers… and More!

EA – Challenge Everything… and More!

See, even I can do it.

The and-more tagline is another instance of the law of typicality in effect. You don’t have to love chicken rice, just come on in and you might find something you like because, you know, we call ourselves ‘The Chicken Rice Shop’ but we don’t want people to think that we sell only chicken rice.

I have a suggestion. Instead of ‘and more’, people should use ‘and stuff’, or even ‘and blah’. “KFC – Fried Chicken… and blah.”

#2 The thieving woman

The man wakes up in the morning, bleary-eyed. He shambles to the kitchen counter to make some coffee. The coffee done. With a satisfied smile he puts his lips close to the coffee…

And his wife pops out of nowhere and takes the cup away from him. The woman happily walks away with her loot while the man is clearly disappointed.

And Nescafé isn’t’ the first commercial that’s doing it. Because you know, a happy family is composed of a man that tries to get himself a treat, and a thieving woman.

#1 The Agitated gamer

I didn’t have much to say on the last point because I’m saving it for this one. Technically both fall under the same category – annoying stereotypes – though the agitated gamer grazes a raw nerve whenever I see a ‘gamer’ on television, butt-jumping up and down on his couch, jerking the wired controller with a force enough to throttle a child, frantically pressing the shoulder buttons without any apparent pattern.

Because people can’t keep their elbows still while playing a game on his favorite console (Typically a Playstation). Because these people have this crazed look in their eyes when gaming. Because games now still show “YOU WIN!” in Arial when you clear it. Because being able to tolerate your thieving woman makes you a real man. Because people actually slip on banana peels in real life.

These are simply tools to get the message across easily. Guy bouncing in chair = gamer. Girl runs out of house after a quarrel with dad = car accident. It’s like how the black guy or the guys in the red shirts always die first. I couldn’t care less about the others, but the agitated gamer stereotype keeps gaming at an immature, ADHD-rife level. That’s why DS-es will always be fancy GameBoys to my mother. First person shooters will be murder simulators to Jack Thompson. And gaming, in general, will be bad for kids.

I told my mum that the fancy GameBoy is actually a DS. Now she thinks that it’s a ‘PS’ (Playstation). Oh well…

June 12, 2007 Posted by | Games, Gaming, Malaysia, Quasr Concept | 2 Comments