At the time I did some analysis of the NPD sales data for games in the USA. The results were interesting. First of all I removed sports. Pretty much universally sports require a license. There are so few exceptions as to not be worth mentioning. At the same time, if you are not making a sports game then the fact that sports games require licenses (cars, teams, logos) has nothing to do with a non-sports game so it’s not useful to include those in the same analysis IMO.
While I was working on Locoroco my last task was to create the Loco House and Loco Editor mini-games. They are basically mini level editors.
Locoroco the game uses a signal system based system for the majority of its setups. What that means is using very simple objects that send and or receive signals the designers then connect them in creative ways to make the game. A simple example is you might have a switch that has two output signals "out_pressed" and "out_released". You might also have a door that has two input signals "in_open" in "in_close". If you connect switch.out_pressed to door.in_open then pressing the switch will open the door.
Let's say the designers ask for a new type of door that after it has been opened, closes after 5 seconds. Instead of actually making a new kind of door or adding options to the existing door we just given them a timer object that when it receives a signal sends another signal a settable amount of time later.
As you can see above, when the switch is pressed it will tell the door to open but at the same time it will tell a 5 second timer to start. 5 seconds later the timer will tell the door to close.
Using small objects like this most setups in the game were created. For each feature a designer wants we figure out what kind of simple objects we could give them to make that possible. In this way we get lots of flexibility. In the original Tokyo Game Show version from September 2005 even the scales that tell you "15 LocoRoco Required" were made this way. Using 5 objects of only 3 types
Type 1: An object that places an animation when it receives a signal "in_start" and loops on another animation until it receives the signal "in_stop" and then plays a final animation.
One was set to play the sign that says "15 LocoRoco Required". The start animation has it appear, the loop animation has it floating, the final animation has it disappear.
Another was set to play an animation the lowers the scale. The start animation has it just sitting there. The next animation plays it moving down.
Yet another was set to play an animation that opens the door to the bonus area.
Type 2: An invisible area object the counts locoroco to a settable number. In this case 15. It sends 3 types of signals
no locoroco inside the area to some locoroco inside the area sends "out_some"
some locoroco inside the area to the required number or more sends "out_full"
some locoroco inside the area to no locoroco inside the area sends "out_empty"
Type 3: A object that plays a sound when it gets a signal.
Can you figure out how to connect them to get it work?
Anyway, originally I wanted to put the ability to use some of those features into the Loco Editor for players to use. I actually put that feature into the Loco Editor but I could tell the director had kind of forgotten about it. Even though I had showed it to him working he was way too busy to give it any time to fully plan out and after a couple of months of him never mentioning it again I could tell he had forgotten about it.
Since I knew we were short on time I figured if I brought it up he'd tell me flat out "there's no time so let's cut it". So, instead I decided just not to ask. I also felt if I left it in as is the testers would find it and again I'd be told "take it out" so I decided "You know what? I'm going to hide it behind a code and just not say anything".
So, in the shipping LocoRoco there is the ability to edit signals in your own levels. Here's how you do it.
First, get yourself to the Loco Editor. From the Menu screen pick Mini Games and then pick the last game
Once in go to the System Menu by pressing Square
To enter a code you have to hold L+R (the top buttons). The codes work like this
A = Triangle (because A looks like a triangle)
T = Triangle
O = Circle (because an O is a circle)
C = Circle
S = Square
X = X
L = Left on d-pad
R = Right on d-pad
U = Up on d-pad
D = Down on d-pad
While holding L+R enter the code RADCATLOCOROCO. If you enter it correctly you should here a small sound. Exit the System Menu and go into the Parts Menu. Scroll to the end and you should see these parts
You can place them like normal parts. To connect signals, go back to the Parts Screen but this time press Select. You'll go back to editing the level but this time you're editing signals.
To connect a signal click an out circle then move your pointer to an in circle and click again (see below for the bad news). To disconnect a signal click anywhere along the arrow. It will disconnect and attach itself to your pointer. Connect it to something else or press X to delete it.
The parts are as follows:
Signal Part Table
Sends an out signal the first time a locoroco hits it.
Grows when it receives a signal, sends one when eaten
Grows when it receives a signal, sends one when eaten
Tall Invisible Fruit
Insivible fruit, Appears when it receives a signal, sends one when eaten
Short Invisible Fruit
Insivible fruit, Appears when it receives a signal, sends one when eaten
Sends a signal after it receive 2 signals
Sends a signal when taken
After receiving a signal waits 1/6 of a second then sends a signal
After receiving a signal waits 1/2 of a second then sends a signal
After receiving a signal waits 1 second then sends a signal
After receiving a signal turns 90 degrees clockwise then sends a signal
After receiving a signal turns 90 degrees counter clockwise then sends a signal
After receiving a signal turns shrinks then sends a signal
After receiving a signal turns grows then sends a signal
That's the good news now for some of the not so good news.
One problem was that because this was secret I couldn't get input from the entire team about what kinds of objects we should put into to it. What I had suggested originally when I told them how the signal editing worked was that they should make almost ALL the parts work with signals. Parts like the letters A-Z could send a signal when they are touched, parts like the wind could take a signal to turn them on or off, etc… Unfortunately they didn't do that so none of the 156 original parts have been connected to signals.
Another was that we were out of memory in the level editor. 156 parts available take a lot of memory. That meant there wasn't a lot of room for fancy parts nor was there room for icons. That's why there are only 14 parts I was able to add.
Yet another issue was trying not to get caught. The tools that build the data would print status messages about what they built so I had to fix them so they wouldn't print those messages for my secret parts lest someone see them and start asking questions.
And, finally I had to find a way to hide the codes so the testers wouldn't find them. They actually found a clue once. The code used to be entered on the Parts Screen if you held L+R. While the code was being entered the other buttons didn't work. They flagged that as a bug "buttons must work even with L+R pressed". For a moment I thought maybe I could just say "by design" but then I thought if I didn't fix that the lead programmer would fix it and in doing so he'd see the secret code part of the program. So, I moved the place you enter the codes somewhere else and hoped they wouldn't notice.
The biggest issue though is that none of it was ever tested and so there are bugs.
You only get 1 of part #254. Enter the code again to get another.
Bug #2: (Japanese, Korean, Chinese and European versions only)
You can get an arrow from any part and connect a signal to any part even of that part is not suppose to support signals. (e.g., part #001) They won't actually do anything.
Bug #3: (Japanese, Korean, Chinese and European versions only)
You can only connect 20 signals total. I suppose that wouldn't be a bug if I didn't tell you about it but you should have been able to connect 500 like the USA version
Bug #4: (USA version only)
You can NOT pull out signals from parts 241 and 247. That's a BIG DEAL because, you can't actually use any of the other parts unless they get a signal and you can't get any parts to send signals to start it all off except from parts 241 and 247. Fortunately there is a workaround. It's not pretty but here it is.
unzip them and copy them to the correct place on your PSP memory stick. These levels have a bunch of parts 241 and 247 already in them. Here's the deal. You cannot NOT pull out new signals from those parts. What you can do is select the signals already coming out of them and connect them to other parts.
So, here you have it.
While I'm at it here are a few more codes you can enter in the same way.
Adds 5 locorocos of each color to your Loco House.
gives you all the parts
lets you use the 12 Special Loco Editor parts in Loco House (like the "toge")
turns on scaling.
While placing objects, HOLD Select and use up / down on DPAD to scale objects. Not all objects scale and a few do visually but don't work (e.g. toge)
Note: this is one place were I probably disagreed with the director. The director pulled that feature because he didn't feel like explaining it to the user. He thought it would make the editor more confusing. Maybe he was right.
The next set of codes let you *cheat*. I guess technically so do some of the ones above but I'd argue those ones let you have fun, the following ones though, well, it's up to you if you want to use them. These ones are entered from the World Map. You MUST select a level so you are on the "Start? Yes / No” message.
Again, while HOLDING L+R the codes are
opens all stages
gives you 10000 coins (so you can play the mini games)
gives you all the muimui
This will remove all muimui from all levels, since they will have all already been collected, but it will also open all the mini games, let you select all 6 colors of locoroco, and let you select all music in the Loco House and Loco Editor.
I suggest you use a different game save if you enter these codes.
Disclaimer: This page as absolutely NOTHING to do with Sony. I do NOT speak for them or represent them in any way.
The Toro Station, which was renamed as Mainichi Issho (Together Everyday) shipped for free with the PS3. It’s a piece of software staring Toro from the Dokodemo Isshou series of games but this one every day there is a news update and the two cats present the news. It’s real news as well.
In my circle of friends there is this couple, David and Elly, that are among the biggest game fans I know. To give you an idea, together they live in a 3 bedroom house. One room, the master bedroom is just that, their bedroom. Of the other two bedrooms, one is Elly's game room, the other is David's game room. Each of them have personal bookshelves of collections of games, nearly every system that has ever come out, a large TV to play their games on and their own PCs. On top of that they have 3 arcade cabinets and a projection TV with more game systems connected to it in their living room.
So, sometime late in 2005 David announced he had asked Elly to marry him and she said yes. The wedding was to be in April 2006. Our group has had a little bit of a history of, um…., interesting birthday presents and so we got this idea that it would be really cool to surprise David and Elly with their very own video game on their wedding day. Something that could be presented at their wedding reception.
A group of about 11 of us met one day in December to discuss ideas for games. Should we make a small adventure game? Should it be multi-player so they could both play at the same time? Maybe it should just be a side scrolling shooter or a simple platform game. Ultimately we decided on making a bunch of simple mini games in the spirit of Wario Ware.
We brainstormed a bunch of simple game ideas including many raunchy ones that we thought maybe we'd have to save for a special party without the relatives although in the end we made just one version with relatively safe themes.
We talked about which platform to make the game on. PSP was discussed but a PSP game can't be shown to a crowd easily. My first thought was that it should be a PC game because that's the easiest system to develop for. The problem though with PCs is they are all different so making a game that runs on my home PC doesn't mean that same game is going to run well on whatever PC we manage to be able to bring to the reception.
Ultimately I made a simple cross platform library for PC and XBox. This allowed me to create and test the game on the PC but it meant at the actual reception all we would need was an XBox and since they are all the same we wouldn't have to worry about performance or driver issues.
Hot Stack was the first person to deliver graphics to me. He gave me a set of graphics for the game "Atkins Only". Each of the pieces of food and the background as well as heads of David and Elly. I set out to get it to work and it turned out to be quite a chore to figure out the positioning of all the graphics. That is what prompted me to write the script I mentioned above.
Once that was working things started to go pretty fast. McWild started giving me graphics very quickly and it generally took about 4 hours on my part to put together each of the 13 games.
While I was working on that McWild was busy creating an opening and closing video. He chose the theme of Donkey Kong seeing Elly as the Princess and David as Mario and therefore wanting to stop the wedding. That prompted me to make the title screen and progress screen to be Donkey Kong based. David and Elly would alternate playing mini games. Each time they completed one their character would move up the Donkey Kong level removing a peg until all the pegs were removed and Donkey Kong would fall on his head letting them get married.
About 70% into creation we found out we would not be able to show the game at the reception. We paniced having put so much work in already. Of course we couldn't tell David and Elly what we were creating but we had tried to arrange getting a projection TV setup at the reception and found out it was basically impossible. Fortunately in Japanese culture it is common to have an after party or nijikai (second party) after the reception which is generally for friends v.s. the reception which is for family.
We talked to Elly's Uncle who was arranging the reception and visited the place. It was prefect with a large room and a large projection TV on one wall as well as connectors we could use to setup the XBox.
Even better, McWild, who is an amazing photographer and video editor was asked directly by David and Elly to make something for the after party. This gave him permission to go take a bunch of pictures and footage of them without them knowing that we were going to use it for the game.
On the day of the wedding, David and Elly assumed we were going to show a video and since the game started with a video they had no idea it would end on the title screen of their very own custom game. McWild also had 2 wireless controllers which made it perfect for them to be able to stand in front of the big screen and play. According to sources, Elly didn't cry at her wedding but she did cry when she saw the game. Apparently she was overwhelmed that we had put so much effort into it.
Here then is a short version of some of the game being played at the after party.
To be honest we were a little worried. Games are not everyone's thing and we wondering if some of the other friends or family would be bored but to our amazement and delight, everyone was super into it. They cheered on Elly and David as they played and generally couldn't stop talking about it even after it was over. 大成功！
As for the individual games, some games were meant for David to play, others for Elly and a few for both.
Atkins Only: (both)
This is a kind of like the opposite of Root Beer Tapper. Food comes out the doors on the right and slides down the counters to the left. David or Elly must eat all the Atkins food and avoid the non Atkins food. Both David and Elly were on the Atkins diet for a while.
Balance: (David only)
In real life David has 3 Xboxes (Elly has 2) so we though a game with him in Akihabara balancing 3 Xboxes was kind of funny. Basically the game nudges the boxes a little so you have to get past them on the opposite side of the way they are leaning to get them to lean the other way. It's not that intuitive and required quite a bit of balancing.
Bring It In / Make it Fit: (David only)
As I mentioned, David and Elly have 3 generic arcade cabinets in their living room. The original idea for this game was that the door would stay still and David, pulling in an arcade cabinet, would scale up from the back and he'd have to make it into the door with almost the same controls as the Balance game. I tried that first and it was incredibly boring.
The next try was instead to have David and the machine be a fixed size and have him have to bring the machine in through receding doors. This gave it a much more dynamic feel and made it much better.
Distract Elly: (David Only)
As I mentioned, Elly's a gamer and if fact she is arguably more of a gamer than David so we came up with a simple game where it's David's job to distract Elly from playing a game and get her to notice him.
The actual mechanics of the game are simple. David just has to press the A or B buttons as fast as he can and get the meter up to the goal before his time runs out. In the meantime we see him on the screen jumping around in front of Elly in a Hard Gay suit trying to distract her.
Some highlights: if he gets the meter 80% of the way to the top Elly will lookup from her game playing and the alert guard sound from MGS plays. If David fails to get the meter up in time then Elly's says "つまらない。。。" which means booooring…
One interesting thing is the game basically works by each time the button is pressed a certain amount is added to the meter were as each frame of the game a certain amount is subtracted. Both of those values are constant meaning it's no harder to play at the beginning than the end but the rise in tension of the music as well as the time running out make it seem like it's really getting harder each moment it continues.
No Kusoge: (Both)
Kusoge is best translated as "Shitty Game". The basic idea was that 3 games appear. Two games are Kosuge, one game is a gem. The player has just a moment to grab the good game or else some other game otaku gets his paws on it and it's gone.
Unfortunately this was a hard game to understand. If you give the player too much time it's way too easy. At the same time if you give them too little time it's not enough for them to figure out which game is good. On top of that, without knowing how to play the game before they start it is nearly impossible to figure out as you only have about 1.5 seconds to choose.
Pick the Straight Guy: (Both)
This was a joke game. The faces of several members of our group were shown composited over a gay bar scene from South Park and David or Elly, who's ever turn it was had to try to pick the straight guy. Of course it turns out in the end none of them are straight and "P-O-W-N-D" is printed over the screen. As an added bonus the music for this game is the theme song from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
Pour the Sour: (Both)
This one also just barely worked. The idea was that you need to fill the glass by moving it under the drink dispenser and filling it neither too full nor too empty. It basically only worked because the first time either David or Elly played they didn't know what to do. The second time they generally got it right
You had to press to the right to put the glass under the tap nearly immediately in order to have enough time to fill it but pull it out about 1/2 a second before the time ran out in order not to over fill it.
Protect the Sausage: (David Only)
We have BBQ parties often and in this game David uses a spatula to fend off people trying to grab the sausages. It gets faster and faster as the timer runs down and if there are no sausages left by the end he loses.
The biggest problem with this game was with with spatula's irregular shape as well as the irregular shapes of the friends' images it is hard to tell what a hit is. We compensated by making the hit areas large and it seemed to be playable.
Put the Ring On: (Both together)
This is the last game, after they have defeated Donkey Kong. All they have to do is line up the two hands, they each control one, so that when the timer runs out the hands will automatically go together and the ring will be on.
This was also the last game made and so it was a little too easy. All they had to do was either press both controllers all the way to the top or all the way to the bottom. A possibly slightly better solution would have been to offset the ranges of both sides so they would have had to try just a little harder. It's the only game they didn't fail once to see the failure display.
Spank Cormac's Age: (David Only)
While looking for images to use in the game McWild found two pictures of David spanking Cormacaroni. He thought we had to put those in so this was a simple game where every press of the button spanks once and the age count goes up.
What makes the game difficult is of course one, if you don't know the correct age but more than that in order to actually get it to his age by the time the timer runs out, 35 at the time, you have to press pretty dang fast but you also have to be careful not to go over.
Squash The Roach: (Elly Only)
We often gather at a certain bar in Japan and Elly used to participate. That is, until one day when she saw a roach in the bar. She's never came back because she hates roaches so much and that was 3 years ago so we decided we had to make a roach squishing game.
You use the controller to move a crosshair then press the button to make a foot come down. What makes this game particularly hard is it takes moment for the foot to come down during which time the roach will have moved.
T-Bag: (Elly Only)
Elly is an expert Halo player and in Halo one of the things you do when you kill someone is stand over them and press the duck button to T-Bag them.
This game plays the same as the Distract Elly game above. You just have to press the buttons as fast as you can to get the meter up while in the background you see one Halo player t-bagging the other faster and faster while he yells out some smack talk.
Whac-A-Taru: (Elly Only)
Elly is or was addicted to Final Fantasy XI so we made this simple game where you press the D-Pad in the direction you want to whack. Miss one and it's game over.
In the end I think I only spent about 80 hours total making this over the course of about 3 months. I believe McWild also spent about 80 hours making graphics and the video.
Some things that helped make this easier
We made a base file that had layers to show the "title safe area" (the area that is guaranteed not to be cut off by they edges of the TV. It also had the timer bar so the person making the graphics could see that things were not going to be covered up by it.
Of course we borrowed lots of music, graphics and sound effects. We're not sure what the law is there. The game was basically only shown at a wedding except for the excerpts above on Youtube. We hope the respective copyright owners will not be upset with us.
That also means we can't make it available for others to play but that's okay since most of the games feature inside jokes that only people in our group would get.
A big issue was that we needed each game to be hard enough that they failed once and easy enough that they made it through on the second try. The reason is each and every game had a special win and lose sequence usually with some kind of joke or embarrassing picture involved so we wanted them to see the fail screens as well as the win screens but we didn't want them to fail a bunch of times as it would get boring quickly for those watching.
In one case, the Squash the Roach game, I even went so far as to make the game too hard to start and then much easier the second time through just to try to force the issue. I actually found the game kind of fun on its initial harder setting but even then I could only win it about 1 out of 4 times and we knew Elly, with no chance to practice would end up taking longer.
In the end it was a great experience. I setup an FTP site so we everyone could upload their assets and download the latest version of the game. The PC version made it possible to work fast. I used a controller adaptor to let me use console controllers on the PC. That way it was easy to test and debug the all the 2 player stuff as well as the loading screens and other issues that needed to be ironed out. Modern systems have made it incredibly easy to throw together something like this without having to worry about optimizing code or memory issues like we had to in the past.
For the last few years I’ve helped organize a relatively large party here in Tokyo every Summer. This last summer 230 people came. We need to send e-mail to all the people we invite and you’d be surprised how hard it actually is to send email to that many people.
Some of the issues are:
If we send with lots of people in the to:, cc: or bcc: fields many email servers will assume the mail is spam and reject it
MS Excel with MS Word and MS Outlook are supposed to allow you to send form letters as email. The option is still in Word. You pick Mail Merge and select an Excel file with all your data, create a form letter and Word will generate a separate mail for each person listed in your Excel file through Outlook. Unfortunately the ability of Outlook to be able to do this was abused by viruses and that feature was disabled off.
Even if we sent from Outlook or pretty much any other software that we could use for form email we ran into problems with Encodings. Half the people we invite are Japanese and must receive email in Japanese. You’d think maybe you could use Unicode (UTF-8) but not everyone is running a modern e-mail client.
Some people are on old cell phones. Some are even stuck using Netscape 4.7 at their office. Send the wrong encoding and they just get a message full of garbage or mojibake as it’s called in Japanese.
The first 2 problems meant we couldn’t just use Outlook and the last problem also seemed an issue no mater what software we tried.
The solution I tried was to write my own perl script to send the mail but there were oodles of problems.
The most common way I’ve seen sending email in perl is to pipe directly to sendmail. Unfortunately that means your perl has to be running on a server with sendmail setup.
Even if you sent up sendmail many servers will reject your mail if it’s not from the same server as the account you’re sending from. In other words if the from address is firstname.lastname@example.org the server sending the mail better be on the yahoo.com domain otherwise it will get rejected by many servers as spam.
To deal with the previous problem you need to send through smtp using an external server (like Yahoo for example). Most mail servers require authentication but most examples I could find online for sending smtp email through perl didn’t show how to talk to a smtp server that requires authentication.
Once you get the mail sending you next have to deal with the encoding issues. Subject lines that are not in English as well as Japanese contents need special encodings. No where does this seem to be documented well, at least not in English.
So, after 3 years of using this script and running into issues and fixing those issues I think it finally works. It uses smtp which avoids the first problem. It authenticates smtp (username/password) so it fixes the second problem. And, finally, after much trial and error it appears to use a format that works all the time (jis / iso-2022-jp)
I doubt many people need something like this but if you do hopefully google brought you here and I managed to save you a few headaches
#!/usr/bin/perl # # This program sends an email in Japanese through an SMTP server # that requires authentication. Hopefully it does it in # a way that no recipient will have problems receiving # correctly. (ie, no mojibake) # # The subject is hard coded below # The body is read from the file "msg-ja.txt" # # Both the subject and the file msg-ja.txt are expected to be in shift-jis format # which is the default format for Windows text in Japanese mode. In other words # if you are running Japanese Windows XP or English XP with your # "Language for non-unicode programs" set to "Japanese" then notepad by default # will save text in shift-jis and you can use that Japanese here # use warnings; use strict; use MIME::Lite; use Email::Send; use Encode; use Encode::JP; use JCode;
On thing to be aware of. As it says the above code is expected to be saved in shift-jis format. Unfortnately unless you know what you are doing if you just cut and paste the source above there’s a possibility it won’t get pasted in shift-jis. If you are running Window XP with your “Language for non-Unicode programs” set to Japanese then you can copy and paste into Notepad and then when you save choose the “ANSI” Encoding. That appears to work.
Note: from and to lines will also need special encoding if your are putting more than just the address in. For example if instead of "email@example.com" you are using something like "鈴木恵子<firstname.lastname@example.org>" then you’re going to need to encode those as well. I just settled for leaving those as the email address only to save frustration.
When I was in high school the Atari 800 had just come out. Back then this demo was the most inspiring thing ever! I would look at this demo and think computers were going to change the world. How I could imagine all that from this demo is hard to fathom I guess but I did. Read more…