Giift

I’m an avid enthusiast for new technologies, new platforms and new websites.

I was contacted by someone and told about this Giift thing and I thought “Well that sounds good.”

Oh, but I digress, I haven’t even introduced you all to Giift. Let me introduce you now:

What is Giift

I’ll keep this brief but to the point, as I like to do:

Giift.com is a free service which looks to bring all of your reward, mileage, gift and membership cards, your vouchers/coupons and loyalty programs all under one roof. No more do we need to have an excessively large wallet to carry around all of those bits of plastic, our cards. So in a way, this could be viewed as the eco-friendly method of carrying your business, loyalty, travel and gift cards. There, free sales pitch for them without having to pay me, somebody should consider me as their advertising PR!

Anything else?

Giift.com allows you to monitor the monetary value of your cards, buy things with your cards online and even trade some of your cards.

Have you ever found that you have a gift card that you just don’t have an interest in using? Yeah, me too. I have had a few gift cards in the past where I’ve had to impulse buy something random or buy something for a friend. With Giift, you can trade those unwanted cards for a different gift card or you can trade them for actual cash. Nice!

Where is it available?

It seems to be available all over the world, although I have read somewhere that this is taking the most effect in America and China.

I think the site is a great idea. With the digitalisation of a lot of traditional funds, such as PayPal, BitCoin, online banking and much more, it seems like another step to removing the plastic cards and just constantly being connected and ready to go.

What do you think about the idea? Think there’d be much use in this where you live? Learn more by checking out their site.

Game development tools – Stencyl

I’m going to talk about some of the incredible development tools for indie games developers, along with some of the technologies behind them.

Now, I’m not an insider, I know barely anything about the games industry (Except for what I see as a fan and as a gamer), however there have been some seriously great innovations to let people make whatever game they wish to make.

For this post, I’ll talk about the tool “Stencyl“.

What is Stencyl?

Stencyl Start
Stencyl start-up screen

 

Stencyl is made with ease in mind. Stencyl doesn’t make people jump straight in with programming languages, instead, there are pre-made “Code blocks” which are all the different functions you’d need.

Stencyl is an editor, an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and a user-created workshop all rolled into one. The free version of Stencyl is for web only (well, it gives you a .swf, which is Flash to the uninitiated. Flash is the platform that truly skyrocketed websites such as Newgrounds.) The online games scene is well known for being chock a block full of some wonderful little fun games.

To make Stencyl even more awesome, they formed an alliance with Kongregate, which is one of the biggest online casual game sites around. You can sell your games made in Stencyl and if you invest a little bit, you can make executable files, iOS and Android games, etc. The full package is less than $200 a year, so if you think you can make it on multiple platforms with Stencyl giving you that much needed push then go for it – This is cheap.

Drawbacks

Well, with all great things comes the drawbacks.

Stencyl Example Scene
A workable example map

So, this is the drawback of Stencyl: No 3D support, this is for 2D games only. To me, this isn’t a problem, it just shows it’s a nice little 2D game creation suite, but in this day and age to get really noticed with 2D graphics it’s certainly not easy. For 3D, you’d likely take to one of the big ones, such as the UDK (Unreal Development Kit) or Unity (which recently started to do browser support. Always a good thing.)

Another drawback with Stencyl is that it feels quite fledgling, especially with what it has in the StencylForge. The StencylForge (Seen below) is a market place to get more resources for your Stencyl games. Of course, you can create your own resources which is probably the better thing to do – As you end up learning a lot more by making your own resources as to what’s needed to actually make a game. You need art, animations, music as well as code and engines. Oh yes, there’s a lot to making a game, but with Stencyl a lot of the work behind a professional games studio is handled for you and you need to focus on making the game itself.

Resources are on StencylForge
Resources are on StencylForge. Notice Flying Bird? That’s a Flappy Bird clone there. Uh oh.

With this in mind, Stencyl was made for beginners, although someone of intermediate skill could do well with Stencyl. If you are a programmer, Haxe is the language being used in Stencyl which looks pretty clean.

More options and tweaking

So once you’ve set up a map and you’ve got your actors in the right places, you need to define behaviours and even script them. Whilst you can edit code, for beginners, you can legitimately make a game without having to code – Although you can learn about code via the code blocks that are provided. You can learn the basics of if statements, as well as for and while loops.

This probably isn't a good idea. Let's implement it, anyway!
This probably isn’t a good idea. Let’s implement it, anyway!

And when all else fails and you just need that extra bit of help, there are forums and the Stencylpedia.

So, what do you think of Stencyl? If you’ve never programmed before but have a burning desire to create a 2D game, be it a platformer like Mario or an asteroids clone, you surely can do it with Stencyl and relatively quickly, too. I think I may give it a try, see if I can knock something amusing up together.

There are plenty of other game development tools out there and for those who are interested, I will be doing a series of these posts, revolving around developing. Please note, whilst I know about Unity and UDK, neither of them support Linux so at this time, I will not be utilising these (I don’t have a Windows partition on this machine of mine!) It’s a pity, as I personally loved Unity when I was using it.

I’ll also be sure to use software that are usable over several platforms, hopefully software that encompasses Windows, OS X and Linux machines. If there’s a great game dev tool I should know about that fits that one small requirement of being cross-platform, let me know in the comments below!

FUNDED Kickstarter Highlight – Prospero’s Price

Love Lovecraft?

Shaky for some Shakespeare?

Then you might want to get a load of Prospero’s Price!

What is it?

Careful there, that’s water around you.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1569820395/prosperos-price-a-lovecraft-and-shakespeare-tale

Prospero’s Price is based after the events of Shakespeare’s awesome play: The Tempest. A play that was met with quite a bit of controversy as well as being considered as Shakespeare’s last solo written play.

The guys working on this, J Kovach and Aron Tarbuck have worked on some very big titles in the past, don’t just take it from me, take this from the full bio:

“J Kovach has created for: Magic: the Gathering, Netrunner, Gurps, Adult Swim, Rise of Aester, and CthulhuTech.

Aron Tarbuck has created for:
Houses Of Hermes, Everway, Mage: the Ascension, Werewolf: the Apocalypse, CthulhuTech, Unhallowed Metropolis, Unhallowed Necropolis”

There’s a pretty good deal in this Kickstarter, too. For $5, you get a PDF version of this graphic novel. Yup, $5 to back something which merges two awesome writers in Shakespeare and Lovecraft.

The graphic novel they are working on is a 32 page black and white book. There will be stretch goals for colour and longer length.

I occasionally like to settle down with a good graphic novel before bed, or a good manga… Or even a good book (Ahem, I’m a Kindle guy, I certainly am not sorry!) Lovecraft is particularly awesome to read before bed:

C’mere and gimme a kiss good night!

How much do they need?

$3,000 is what they are pledging for. This is a pretty low pledge on Kickstarter, which means this should see the light of day, especially with 25 days to go as of writing.

$18 (+$10 for delivery outside of US) for a hard copy, or as I say, $5 gets you the PDF. Nice!

I’m expecting plenty of tentacles, much drama and much more. With all the research that has gone into Prospero’s Price, this is truly going to be a wonderful read for Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans, Shakespeare fans, Lovecraftians and graphic novel fans.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m completely unsure as to how this’ll turn out. Whether or not this’ll be kickstarted, well, let’s just say that you, my dear reader, have as much control over the fate of Prospero’s Price as what anyone else does.

But as I mentioned: $5 for a PDF version, seems well worth the cash to me. I threw my $5 in (I must be careful, I need to reserve some of my cash for Kitacon!)

Update

Congratulations are in hand. The team was met with adversity and successfully kept their campaign. Furthermore, they went ahead and secured enough funds to make this great mash up a reality.

Good work guys! We eagerly await the release of this hidden gem in the making!

Update 2

DMCA disputes.
Reputations at stake.
Funds to meet.

This lovely comic was met with all sorts of issues. Did it stop them? No. The community kept them going and the DMCA lawsuit was dropped. Not only that, they appear to have gotten more than double their initial ask of $3,000! Congratulations guys!

FUNDED Kickstarter Highlight – The Savlonic Album

Every week, I’m going to scour Kickstarter for cool projects which I think we should all be aware of. Even if we cannot back these projects ourselves, we should at least be aware of them. But before we start this first Kickstarter Highlight, let’s quickly talk about what Kickstarter is and what sort of impact it’s had on us.

Kickstarter

Launched April 2009, Kickstarter is a site, or a platform if you want to call it that, which allows crowd-funding in a major way. Crowd-funding has always been around to support great projects, but visibility is key to this. As such, Kickstarter came about to let people know: “All you cool people, fund us so we can make this.”

Here’s a fantastic list taken directly from Wikipedia showing the amounts that was pledged, the project name, creator, etc. As you can see, games are very popular on Kickstarter, however it did help to kickstart the Smartwatch craze!

Rank Total USD Project name Creator Category  % funded Backers Closing date
1 10,266,845 Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android Pebble Technology Design 10,266 68,928 2012-05-18
2 8,596,474 Ouya: A New Kind of Video Game Console Ouya Inc. Video Games 905 63,416 2012-08-09
3 5,702,153 Veronica Mars movie[85] Rob Thomas[86] Film & Video 285 91,585 2013-04-12
4 4,188,927 Torment: Tides of Numenera InXile Entertainment Video Games 465 74,405 2013-04-05
5 3,986,929 Project Eternity Obsidian Entertainment Video Games 362 73,986 2012-10-16
6 3,845,170 Mighty No. 9[87] Comcept and Inti Creates Video Games 450 67,226 2013-10-01
7 3,429,235 Reaper Miniatures Bones: An Evolution Of Gaming Miniatures[88] Reaper Miniatures Board Games 11,430 17,744 2012-08-25
8 3,336,371 Double Fine Adventure Double Fine and 2 Player Productions Video Games 834 87,142 2012-03-13
9 3,169,610 Reaper Miniatures Bones II: The Return Of Mr Bones![89] Reaper Miniatures Board Games 10,560 14,964 2013-10-26
10 3,105,473 Wish I Was Here[90] Zach Braff Narrative Film 155 46,520 2013-05-24

Personally, even though I’ve heard of all of the bad things that happened with response to the release of the Ouya, I believe it’ll be a great console! If nothing else, £99.99 for a console which can act as a media centre, emulator and also to play some casual games with friends – How can you complain? I’m certainly going to be picking one up in the next few months and I’ll be doing some Ouya review! Ooh yah! Stay tuned for that!

Kickstarter Highlight of the Week

Yes, I will be showing off things that I consider great. As such, if you think you know of something that’s going to be worth a watch, let us know in the comments! We can’t know about it unless we can see it!

This weeks Kickstarter Highlight is for the Savlonic album, which is something many a fan of Mr Weebl of Weebl and Bob fame has been looking forward to.

Savlonic is a 3 piece pop band, of which Mr Weebl does the animations for. There’s a lot of speculation that MrWeebl is actually part of the band. There’s no speculation that MrWeebl is part of the band.

From their debut with Electro Gypsy, which discusses a travelling gypsy trying to pedal off his Yamaha’s, Moog’s and Cassio’s, all the way to some of their more recent songs, such as Computer Guy, which might be about big computers… Savlonic are a great electro-pop listen.

“Yaaaaaaaaaaah.” – Savlonic lyrics.

You can find out more about the Savlonic kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/weebl/the-savlonic-album

Note: It has already met its funding criteria, so if you back it early enough (I.E now) you’ll get the discounted prices as described on there or other perks.

Know of any more great Kickstarter projects? Let us know in the comments!