So this is the first time I’ve blogged this month and it’s the last day…sorry about that but as the title suggests I’ve been very busy.
First off lets get this month’s game out of the way. Ship Shape is this months game. It is really only a proof of concept as, due to aforementioned busy-ness I had very little time to work on something new. It has no bells or whistles, is fugly and is very basic, but is a good indication of what the game could be like.
Click to Play – prepare to be underwhellmed
The most exciting thing I have to tell you is that I’ll be exhibiting at EB Expo’s homegrown gaming area this coming weekend. In prep for that my month has been spent dividing my time between adding final touches to Devolution (included having to make a standalone build – not hard just a little annoying) and revamping Jelly for public consumption. I’ve made heaps of progress with Jelly:
I’ve added new enemy types in the form of fish hooks and whales
Added gem combos
Added music and sound
Built it for iPad mini (oh I bought an iPad mini by the way and it’s rad)
Check out the new changes over on GameJolt
I’m very nervous but excited nonetheless. Hopefully people enjoy the games and I get lots of great feedback to funnel back into making my games better.
At last news item for the day, I’ve entered Devolution into the Australian Game Developer Awards. I’ll let you know if anything comes of it.
As I mentioned in my previous post, July’s game is an interactive fiction gamebook type thing called Vigilante.
In a nutshell:
You attend a peaceful protest which takes a turn for the worse when the police arrive. You burst into action with a superpower you never knew you had and find yourself thrust into a world you never knew existed.
The most recent protests and subsequent civil conflicts in the middle east have served as great inspiration. Combine that with my omnipresent love of superheroes and BAM I’ve got my premise.
Turkey’s Gezi Park protests and the police response has probably been the biggest influence thus far, and as I read more about it my interest grows. I’m not however using any explicit setting, hoping instead to give the sense that the events could happen anywhere. For the same reason I’m also keeping the player character a blank slate; they have no name, gender or any visual description to hopefully see the reader more easily project themselves and their choices onto them.
I don’t think I’m a great writer but one act in, I’m having fun regardless. I’m also really liking the format as a way to create/test cool worlds that would otherwise be too hard or take to long to make on my own as a video game.
So Jelly has been coming along very nicely. This week I added:
falling obstacles in the form of a toxic barrel and tyre
a second enemy in the form of a turtle
updated the HUD somewhat (though still needs tweaking to suit iphone 5 resolution)
added a pause button
added a basic high score system
started work on a dash ability
implemented a wave based difficulty system
On the dev sides of things everything is going swimmingly (yet another terrific pun there) but testing has complicated things somewhat. For the first week or so I was only showing the game off to close family members. This has been super helpful with one major feature in particular (the ability to drag jelly around as well as tap) was born from their feedback. However I need as much feedback as I can get while everything remains relatively easy to tweak so I put the call out for testers over facebook.
SIdebar: I’m using testflight for distribution to testers and was finding implementation with unity somewhat overwhelming. Luckily enough there is a really handy solution on the unity asset store called Autopilot. It is really terrific and makes the whole process much easier.
Then things got a little trickier…
I came out of my dev bubble on Friday with the impression that the game was too easy and that there were too many moments of downtime in which nothing was happening (my notes packaged with the build can attest to that). Oh boy was I wrong! Every tester I spoke to said it was too hard – looking at their play sessions via testflight and that is pretty obvious (most lasted well under a minute). I also noted that all but one tester hasn’t played again since the day the received the build though I’m unsure whether this means it’s not fun/too hard or simply that they haven’t had time. So I start thinking up ways to make the game easier when *RECORD SCRATCH* I get feedback that it’s too easy and that there are moments where nothing is happening… if you remember from a few sentences earlier this is exactly what i thought.
Too easy and too hard at the same time
Now what do I do? Well my current plan is:
add some more variety to gem collection – at this stage meaning different sizes with greater value correlating with smaller size
work to remove the boring downtime moments – there are more features/set moments I think should help this
in regards to difficulty I’m pretty stumped (it’s so tricky as my skill level obviously skews everything). I had already considered moving Jelly’s collision off of his tentacles so I’ll definitely be trying it this week. I thought that the increase in enemy numbers and speed was gradual enough but this can’t be the case if the majority are dying so quickly. I need to find the balance so that both ends of the spectrum are happy – if that means introducing easy, medium and hard difficulty settings then that’s what I’ll have to do.
continue with the features I already had on the cards – figuring out the dash for example
To summarise. Making procedurally generated games are tricky business.
10 days into may and this month’s game is going swimmingly (return here in a moment to chuckle at the genius of that pun). I proudly formally introduce Jelly, my first iOS game!
Jelly came out of a weird fact I heard about a type of jelly fish that is considered immortal as it never seems to die from natural causes. Put two and two together and you get a simple survival game where the player directs the protagonist away from danger for as long as possible.
Click to play a web build
The game is really easy at the moment as I am yet to add the difficulty element, and has a few bugs but should give a decent idea of what I’m going for. With most of the core functionality more of less out of the way (including, you know, getting it on to an iPhone) I should have plenty of time this month to refine and add some juicy extras.
It has been really fun being able to just hand my game to people this time around and get instant feedback – expect iOS games to become regular from me from now on!
Hopefully I will be able to figure out TestFlight at some point this month so I can get the actual final(ish) product out for some testing.
I’ve been surprised how well things have gone thus far and am still waiting for the inevitable ramp up in confusion/frustration/difficulty…
So the month is over and while I do have a game, it’s not quite at the level I was aiming for. Of course I can’t beat myself up about it – it’s just part of learning. By the end of the month my enthusiasm was seriously waning and it’s more than likely this is why I haven’t achieved as much as I had hoped.
I had a goal to get animations working but ran out of time to get them to a point I felt comfortable with. I did however get some sound and GUI art in which has helped add a smidgen of much needed polish.
The game needs lots of testing. Unfortunately I ran out of time, and made progress too slowly to for it to be feasible I’ve made some little tweaks based on the feedback of a few helpful family members but it is for the most part untested. Basically this means I have no idea if it’s too hard, too easy, or honestly if it even makes sense to anyone beside me… That said, should you play it I’d love some feedback!
There are a few graphical bugs that I have been, annoyingly, unable to squash and it overall needs a lot of refinement but hey it resembles a game so I can’t be too unhappy!
Click to Play
In more exciting news I got a macbook this month so if things go well I’ll have an iphone game to show off next month!
Apologies for the radio silence thus far I’m afraid this month has been busy. I assure you I have still be making a game this month although things haven’t been progressing as quickly as i would like.
April’s game is called ‘Haiku’ and the gist of it is that you get the hero through a series of obstacles by forming a Haiku. It’s an idea I’ve had for ages but have been too chicken to actually try. When I came to making it, yes I see my trepidation was not unreasonable.
It’s not really at a playable point so here are some screenshots!
In-game view. Click around the scene to reveal words
Drag and drop words to each line. As per a haiku the lines will hold 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively.
It’s a bit of a bummer that this late in the month I’m only now getting my core goals completed (some with a “that is not quite there yet” tick even). Nevertheless a game will be playable come the end of the month. It’s just the scope and success of aforementioned game that are yet to be seen…
This month has ended on a bit of a high with the completion of Wordsmith (completion for now that is). Outside of game dev, the month has been a busy one – add on top of that a bunch of issues I had to weed out just to get a playable build out and you’ve got a challenging month.
I’m not entirely sure what my problem was but the game played perfectly in editor, yet every time I built, changes would seemingly be ignored. Long and frustrating story short – I was using null references to check a few launching conditions (for example if no start screen, go ahead and let play commence) and apparently the webplayer was ignoring them. It was probably a silly way to handle things anyway so I changed the conditions over and all was well. Or so I thought. The next issue was massive loading times when returning to the main menu. I spent the morning debugging like crazy and squashed that sucker with great satisfaction.
I didn’t make it through as many things on my ‘desirables’ list as I would’ve liked but that doesn’t matter, why else would I put them under the heading!
The game has a lot of potential (potential which has thankfully been noticed by others also – thanks guys you know who you are ^.^) and I maintain my goal of taking to touch devices when the time, and funds, allow.
The music track is called ‘Silent Motions’ by morgantj and while It does the job, it’s not exactly what I was after. The levelling system is also another area that could use revisiting – firstly it’s untested so the XP, speed and accuracy are all only based on my skill level it could also stand to be more complex. That said, I never done levelling in a game before so I’m pretty chuffed with how it turned out.
Anyway enough gibber jabbing – you can play the game below.