Monthly Reflection #1 – Starting Anew

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog, Reflections

Every last Thursday of the current month I publish a report reflecting on the previous month. These reflections exist to demonstrate my progress, share my experiences and help transfer what I learn to others.

The Past Month

Woah, where to start.. This has been a very crazy and hectic month. Well, I guess I’ll begin by explaining why I’m restarting Z’s Laboratories.

On 8th March, 2018 I resigned from my job, and despite how much I liked my colleagues and working there my health was deteriorating rapidly due to stress and my already battered body couldn’t take the hit. But since IT jobs in Bahrain (I worked as a web developer) are generally very stressful, and I had enough cash to last a year + was confident in my small project and business management skills, I decided it’s time to give Z’s Laboratories another shot.

11th March was my last day at work, and on 12th March I started working on setting up a business.

My main focus for the month was to write a simple and feasible business plan for my first year of operations, setup my work processes, establish a new routine and get started!.

Throughout March, I accomplished the following:

  • Planning my work/life routine and applying the new habit.
  • Planning the gaming and game dev events I will participate in.
  • Writing my 1st year plan using the Clean Canvas business pattern, and setting a clear vision for Z’s Laboratories.
  • Building a small HTML5 game called Hooman is Yum!, and publishing it on Kongregate, essentially establishing my 1st income stream.
  • Putting Hooman is Yum!’s source code up for sale on Scirra store, which became my 2nd income stream.
  • Participating in Unreal Bahrain’s Bahrain Comic Con booth and showcasing 4 of my games.
  • Setting up an accounting system for Z’s Laboratories.
  • Signing a contract with myself to better manage the business and finances while holding myself accountable.
  • Preparing an excel sheet to track my work hours, tasks and leaves.
  • Setting up a YouTube channel for Z’s Laboratories and uploading the 1st video.
  • Updating my portfolio, website’s content and layout to match my vision for Z’s Laboratories.

I’ve set my work hours to be from 8AM to 2PM, Sunday to Thursday while having 45 paid leave days that I can take anytime of the year. This is both to maintain a steady productive workflow while having a stress-free and balanced life style. I go to bed around 9PM and eat my meals at the same times everyday to keep my biological clock ticking like a real clock.

My current routine looks roughly like this:

Time/Day Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
6AM-8AM Morning Ritual* Morning Ritual Morning Ritual Morning Ritual Morning Ritual Morning Ritual Morning Ritual
8AM-2PM Work Work Work Work Work Free Free
2PM-4PM Family Time & Lunch Family Time & Lunch Family Time & Lunch Family Time & Lunch Family Time & Lunch Lunch Lunch
4PM-5PM Study/Practice*** Study/Practice Study/Practice Study/Practice Study/Practice Free Free
5PM-6.30PM Free Free Free Free Free Free Free
6.30PM-7.30PM Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner Preparing & Having Dinner
7.30PM-9PM Night Ritual** Night Ritual Night Ritual Night Ritual Night Ritual Night Ritual Night Ritual

You may have noticed that I’m treating myself as my own employee. This may sound strange, but I did this for 2 main reasons:

  1. I have a very real tendency to overwork myself to death and self destruct while neglecting everything and everyone around me, so by setting strict boundaries I make sure to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
  2. It makes managing and planning the business easier, while giving me stability in my personal life.

This setup isn’t for everyone, but it’s working extremely well for me and I look forward to each new day.

* My morning ritual consists of exercise, shower, breakfast and dressing for work
** In my night ritual I turn off all electronics, dim all lights, meditate, reflect and get ready for bed
*** For this year I'm studying Japanese

What’s Next

The type of games I decided to specialize in as Z’s Laboratories is 3D stylized Open-World games for Nintendo Switch, that have a positive effect on the players’ real lives, either by teaching them a real world skill, exposing them to different view points and getting them to reflect or by making their day a bit better.

To prepare myself for this path, next month’s main focus will be to build-up my game dev skills by making a small game that helps players de-stress after work. I will aim to publish it on both Steam and mobile app stores for iPads and Android tablets, since that combination roughly matches the Switch’s hardware.

I plan on making all assets for my games by myself as part of my business model and put them for sale on asset stores, hence establishing small passive income streams while building games.

This is going to be a very exciting year for me and hopefully I’ll be able to at least break even, that will let me continue for another year without getting a “real” job.

 

This ends this month’s report. Your comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated, so do comment below. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hooman is Yum!

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Game

Hooman is Yum! is a simple game I made in two days for showcase at Bahrain Comic Con 2018.

You can play below, I recommend playing in full-screen mode by clicking the full-screen button in bottom right corner.

 

Controls:

Move with the WASD or arrow keys

Aim with the mouse and shoot with the left mouse button

Tools Used:

Construct 2 game engine

Audacity

Project Source:

The project source code is available for purchase on the Scirra store.

 

P.S: It’d be great if you could post some feedback on the game ๐Ÿ™‚

UE4 BatteryCollector C++ Tutorial Upgrade from 4.9 to 4.18

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog

If you’re like me and is new to both C++ and Unreal Engine 4, but is an experienced programmer and decide to dive right in to developing UE4 games with C++, you will see your only official option for a full-game tutorial series is the BatteryCollector.

But these tutorials were made in UE4 version 4.9, and a lot of breaking changes have happened since then.

I’ve gone through quite a bit of a headache following the tutorials, and so you don’t have to I’m listing the differences needed on your part to make it work with 4.18.

Download source files on GitHub.

In SpawnVolume.h:
#include "Components/BoxComponent.h"

In SpawnVolume.cpp:
#include "Runtime/Engine/Classes/Engine/World.h"
#include "Runtime/Engine/Public/TimerManager.h"

In BatteryPickup.cpp:
#include "Components/StaticMeshComponent.h" (we don’t need it in the header)

In BatteryCollectorCharacter.cpp:
CollectionSphere = AttachTo(RootComponent); should be CollectionSphere->AttachTo(RootComponent); this was fixed in tut10
#include "Runtime/Engine/Classes/Components/SphereComponent.h"

In BatteryCollectorCharacter.h:
The UPROPERTY macro category for CollectionSphere should be something other than “Camera”, as it is not a camera. I used “Collection”

In BatteryCollectorGameMode.cpp:
1. Add PrimaryActorTick.bCanEverTick = true; to the constructor, as Ticking is now false by default.

2. #include "Runtime/Engine/Classes/GameFramework/PawnMovementComponent.h"

In BatteryCollectorGameMode.h:
1. Make enum class derive from uint8 as such: enum class EBatteryPlayState : uint8 {};
2. Make sure to use MyCharacter->GetCurrentPower(), NOT MyCharacter->GetCurrentPower in game mode tick function for changing play state.

In ThirdPersonCharacter Blueprint Event Graph:

Download source files on GitHub.

Blue Door Red Door

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Game

Blue Door Red Door is my 7th Game Zanga game jam submission, with the theme of You Always Have a Choice.

I worked on the game by myself for a few hours.

You can play below, I recommend playing in full-screen mode by clicking the full-screen button in bottom right corner.

Xbox 360 Controls:

Movement: Dpad/joystick

Xbox controller support was not tested, but should work.

Keyboard Controls:

Movement: WASD or arrow keys

Tools Used:

Unity 3D game engine

Project Source:

Download the project source files by clicking here. You’re free to use it for anything without attribution.

Please note that this is a throwaway prototype project and not suitable to build a full game on.

 

P.S: It’d be great if you could post some feedback on the game ๐Ÿ™‚

Instead of giving up, how about fixing it?

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog

When faced with a scary problem, most people seem to prefer to either pretend nothing is wrong, or wait it out and hope it’ll get better by itself..

And that’s understandable, after all standing still is a lot easier than walking through mud in the dark.

If you ever get such a problem, and you most likely will or have already, try to be honest with your self and what you can and can’t do, and just give yourself permission to fail.

Break down the problem to its core and work with a simple solution as a start.

So next time you have an argument with your spouse, or face unusual thoughts or feelings, or anything that you know won’t go away by itself but need it to go away, then think of what’s scaring you. Find the root of the problem without letting your ego get in the way, ask for advise from people you trust if you need to, and just take it step by step.

 

Be patient, the more complicated the problem the more time it’ll take to fix, so take it as an investment for a better future.

 

Till next time โ˜บ peace โœŒ๐Ÿป

 

 

E3 Logo

E3 Live Events Schedule in Bahrain Timing

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog

 

It’s time for E3!

Tomorrow, 12th June 2016, marks the beginning of E3’s live press conferences and events (except for Deus Ex, that was on 8th..)

Timing can be a bit confusing for Bahrain residents, so I made this table showing event timings and dates based on Bahraini local time.

I’ve highlighted the big 3, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, as those might have big announcements affecting game development. Whether it’s a new piece of hardware or new services, waits to be seen…

You’ll be able to watch live coverage on YouTube Gaming, as well as various Twitch streams.

I’m especially excited and hoping to see some new HoloLens features and announcements for games and game development, what are you most excited about??

 

Time Sunday 12th June 2016 Monday 13th June 2016 Tuesday 14th June 2016 Wednesday 15th June 2016 Thursday 16th June 2016
04:00:00 AM Sony
05:00:00 AM Bethesda
06:30:00 AM Twitch
07:00:00 PM YouTube Live YouTube Live / Twitch Nintendo Treehouse Live
07:30:00 PM Microsoft
08:00:00 PM Nintendo Treehouse Live
08:30:00 PM Twitch Twitch Twitch
09:00:00 PM PC Gaming
11:00:00 PM EA Play Ubisoft

Based on timings as reported by Polygon

Back from 1 year absence

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog

Peace everyone!

It’s been almost a year since my last post, and I’m very sorry about that.

I was traveling for almost 7 months of the previous 12, and when I returned went through 2 new jobs (a part-time and a full-time), and ended up neglecting my blog with all that was happening >.<!

But now I’m restarting my blogging, and at the moment going through the site and doing much needed maintenance.

You can expect new posts to come out within a couple of weeks, I hope you’ll stick around till then ^-^

Cheers!

Sadly

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Game

Sadly is our GCC Game Jam entry, which ended yesterday. It has won a runner up prize and we couldn’t be any happier ๐Ÿ˜€

The game jam’s theme was Hope

Our team was made up of me, my twin sister Fatima and our friend Eman Naser.

You can Play Sadly by clicking here, Enjoy! ^~^

Xbox 360 Controls:

Movement: Dpad/left joystick

Jump: A button

Menu item click: A button

Menu item select: Dpad

Leave game and go back to main menu: Back button

Keyboard:

Movement: Left/Right arrow keys

Jump: Space bar

Menu item click: Space bar

Menu item select: Up/Down arrow keys

Leave game and go back to main menu: Escape button

Tools Used:

Construct 2 game engine

Adobe Illustrator

Spriter for 2D Animation

 

P.S: It’d be great if you could post some feedback on the game ๐Ÿ™‚

Classic Pong

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Game

In a bid to upgrade my game development prowess for the upcoming GCC Game Jam, I decided to make a series of very small and FULL game projects, starting with the classic Pong ๐Ÿ˜€

Enjoy! ^~^

Open in full screen

Controls:

W/S for Player 1

Up/Down arrows for Player 2

Escape button to leave game and go back to main menu

Tools Used:

Construct 2 game engine

sfxr sound effects generator

 

P.S: I would LOVE some feedback on the game! Please hit me with all you got, no holding back! D:

 

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