Thursday, December 31, 2009

What to do?

Here i am working with me mate Paul, trying hard to come up with our net job.

What do we do next ?

We want to be successful obviously, but how. what is the best way to go about this....

I'll update this Blog with more info when we have some sort of conclusion. Maybe ill try to include the discussion or parts thereof.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Holiday Season

And in about 40 minutes it will be Xmas day.

Hope everyone is having or going to have a wonderful holiday full of cheer and fun.

I will enjoy myself tomorrow watching the family open their presents and cavorting in their new clothes i am sure.

Till then i have been going through the threads in the XNA forums. I just don't feel liek answering many of the questions. They seem to be adequately answered by others already and ones that have not, the person has probably found the answer already. The other types are the ones that ask amazingly wide ranging questions, like.. How do i write a game. Those questions have whole articles answering them if those posters cared to google game writing. Though this does bring me to the idea of writing an article or serires of articles of my own.

I think it would likely be different, but different enough to make it worthwhile i am not sure.

Guess ill wait and see.
Good night and Good luck.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Good name is in question

So on the XNA games front, so many people have just aribtrarily used any artwork they find, even the copyrighted stuff. So Microsoft and therefore all the people around them are a little paranoid i guess.

Well from my experience with these dealings, they have always been very minor affairs, a piece of artwork from here, a piece of music from there etc. Once found out, these offending games are removed from the service till they have been fixed.

In my case my WHOLE game is copyright of Scott Christian Sava. He even sponsors my web page. Sooo why would anyone really seek to actually ask me if the copyrighted stuff was ok to use? It's not like i can't lie to them, haha! So what was the point? I would suggest it is to make it so people who were unsure can now safely review my game, without hurting their copyright brains. And don't get me wrong, copyright is a royal pain in the butt!

I obviously answered that i do have permission, nd i could also be lying. Sooo, no idea really how to deal with that one. Maybe i shouldn't bother. It will all be as it will be.

So now i have done the prelimary web page at So this is a big win, especially as i am not well (suffering from a migraine yesterday). So getting anything done is a big win. Hey, i even reviewed 3 games today. Two of which were worth commenting on.

Laters all, Happy holidays if i don't get to post again before Xmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peer Review & Game updates

So my game has entered Peer Review.

The dragons den ? I don't know.

It has been quite soem time since my last game went through the Peer review process. Now i put the game into Playtest of course, in fact i did it twice. I had exactly two responses and they were both from the same nice person, Even if his username was Dip slit. Thanks mate whoever ya are. Made me not feel completely ignored. And being ignored is one of the reasons for this entry to my blog.

I have been partaking in a thread that is talking about which games should be reviewed and ways to make it easier to find people who are active, or more active in the XNA community. I believe that you get back what you put into it. Or will in the end. However there are people that just put their game into review and have never talked on the forums (ok, ya have no need to do that really!). Mainly though, they have not reviewed or playtested anyone elses games at all. so the thread went onto the fact we could ignore the crap trying to be pushed onto the service (i do anyway, i don't need a thread about it :O). So for these people i do not review their games. I leave them to someone else. Hey, i do my time, you should do yours etc.

I do have a current issue though. I pass games that are sound, and ones that do not excite me much at all. But on those more mediocre games i never post a comment. One saying, 'Hey look at me, i reviewed a game'. So i guess my community score will suffer. Now i thought i would change this behaviour, but i cannot. I review a game and pass it, and have no fondness for it, or it's success. So why would i wish the seller well ? I would not be being entirely thruthful if i wished it the best, i just wouldn't mean it. Not that i hate it or anything, cos i never pass those at all. So where does one draw a line in commenting. Mine is simple, if i like the game i comment. simple as that.

Now something new that came up was i found a game last week that came into review. I downloaded it to review it and then discovered the poster had exactly 2 posts to his name... He had also not partaken in the Playtest. So i decided instead of ignoring the game thread. I would post what i thought. Feeling like the OP should know why i am not going to review the game. Well i got told off by someone with a high and mighty postal score. Someone who must be feeling pretty good about themselves after telling me not to say such things. But isn't information useful. I am sure this person had no idea people will be up in arms about his none community interaction.

Anyway. My game is now in peer review. I hope it goes through. Later i expect i will do an update with more questions or more ineteractive stuff in it. Depends on how many people download it to be honest. How can i change that? Some people on the XNA forums seem to think that i should just spend endless amounts of time on my games and put them up there. I did that, have done that and probably will again. But when pieces of crap sell or get downlaoeded so well why should i bother. It is a crap shoot, the recipe of the day that gets downlaoded. Pellmell, took so long to make, so much effort. So much skill in the details, and hasn't yet reached 600 downloads. How can i justify vamping that up ? Or adding to it. Oh i had plans to. More firepower, new creatures etc. But what is the point, now i have sold like 50 or something.

Man am i going on now :O I had better stop.!!

Good luck 'A Dreamland Chronicles Game' in peer review for the xbox 360.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flow Diagrams

Well i have never really done a lot with Flow diagrams before. I always liked the idea and the lok of ones i have been involved in, or ones that are presented as usueful information to see flow etc. Never have i really had the need to create one of my own.

So for my real job i needed to create a large flow diagram showing the asset content pipeline for our in house engine and toolset. this was going to be a challenege and after two failed starts with freeware, and a shareware prorgam, that really do not do the job right. By right i mean, that you create a box node and type in some text into it. Then when you move the box node the text stays where it was, simply stunningly bad form i say!

So i ended up doing the Trial of Microsofts Visio. This is a bit of a revelation after the other tools. I also wish i had just started with this tool. It is so powerful though that i was overwhelmed at first. Though once i started to get the hang of it, it all came together. So it took me two days to come up with the diagram, but it looks amazing! I wonder if there is a way to link to it.. hmm i don't know how right now. But if anyone requests to see the splendor, then ill try to show it.

I do not believe though, that for one minute it is a pretty diagram. I mean, anyone that does these in their job or has been trained will probably look at mine and laugh. But all the essential parts are there. Maybe one day i can pretty it up, and also add more data types in.

Xmas is close now, My Dreamland game is ready to goto review, the only thing i need is to prepare the video properly etc.. I am working on that.

Also the Adventure Books for Children (5 golden coins) books are now being worked. So maybe i can either self publish or find a publisher that has some drive to do this group of books. time will tell.

Have a great holiday everyone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Documents can be hard

I am a mood writer. I create documents best when i am in the mood. I have probably already mentioned that. When i am not in the mood it is not only hard to create docs, but also hard to get anything useful done on them.

Usually i write notes on what i would like to be writing about. These notes are always useful thank goodness when i am in a writing mood.

the last few days i have faced something slightly new to me. That is how to get onto paper what is in my head. I know the WHOLE of the Data pathway, but for some reasons cannot seem to come up with a good way of showing this, in a flow diagram form. That is my current task. Which i was failing slightly. Today i made some rpogress and decided to break down the problem into smaller chunks. This is now going to allow me to not get bogged down and do the job more easily.

I can already feel the creative juices flowing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The General Maintenance of a Developer

Here i am working at home for a change. I have a lot of documentation to copy or create. This is an important document for my company, so i want to do a good job. Working at home allows me to peacefully just get on with it. None of those time or attention consuming moments.

But that is not the point of this post of course.

Maintenance, something that takes time away from development. This can be handled by a nice IT department if you are within that type of company, but good luck on that. Myself i am at home typing away and while i am doing that i am taking the chance to fixup a few other machines i have at home that need a service. My daughters PC for example, since it caught that darned virus it has taken me ages to fix. Now i have repaired it, it needs to do all those boring and time consuming updates. I also have a friends netbook that went squirrly after it got 1800 viruses.

So while i work i can keep going to these machines and pressing 'Continue' buttons, and it hardly disrupts my day. But if i was doing normal stuff at home, i wouldn't be able to keep monitoring them. That is all they really need.

Then after ya make sure that they are updated with spybot and avast, and hope that is enough.

time will tell. good luck on your maintenance :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Size is an issue

So following on from my posts about the size of my game, i have to say that i am still complaining.

I think the 50MB limit sucks for me, not so much for normal 1 dollar games though, as they tend to be more program and less artwork, one reason why they are faster to make and therefore cheaper to make. The general rule of thumb is that the more art the more assets and therefore the more time to develop.

Back to point. I have decided that i love the resolution of the images i am using. so to make them smaller res again is difficult for me. I would have to halve their resolution to get the game to fit into 50MB and that is a step too far.
so now i am going to have to publish the game at 240ms points, or 3 dollars.
Frustrating, but what ya gonna do eh!

So whats left i hear you all ask...

I need to make a video for youtube, and erm.. make write some blurb for the marketing of the product and press release.

then i will transfer this game over to the Review section, which is currenty full of 81 games. Yup 81!!!

I have tried to review a couple of games over the last few weeks, but it seems i am not good at choosing games to review. As i WILL NOT post reviews and fail/pass a game that i think sucks. So far i tried 3 games, i say games, but that is a loose variation on the theme. In fact two of them looked remarkably like the starter kits redone mildly. Which is ok i guess, but the jump feel is not there in the starter kt, and is still not there in their game. This really means that i appear to not have reviewed any games in months. Pity really.
Guess i should make a better choice and review with more enthusiasm. time will tell. Now i have DLC done i should have some time.

Though interestingly enough, last night i had a 3 hour meeting with my friend to discuss whats next for both of us. Can we work together, and if so what on...

We made some progress and are going to try harder this time to get the Adventure Books for Children published. I'll keep ya all informed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Plumbers Arm

I was working on some plumbing in the kitchen under the sink on saturday afternoon, when i hurt my right arm. I am right handed and this is now an issue. The elbow was in extreme pain unless i kept the arm folded.

Since then it is getting better each day. I also had it worked on by an acupuncturist and that seemed to help a lot. Now i can nearly straighten my arm.

The down side is that I have not been able to write any code or do much of anything useful since then.

The real downer though is that....
Th plumbing still leaks :(

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pricing Curveball

When MS altered their pricing structure for the XBLIG games, i never noticed that they also altered a few other things. I know this is my fault for not reading the whole article or at least not comprehending it anyway. But it depresses a bit.

This time it is because I finally got the Playtest version of DLC up there on the XNA playtest area. Woohoo! That was big, and thanks go to Scott for some last minute artistic surgery for an Icon and Box art.

I always intended that this product go out for 1 dollar. It is about getting new people into this wonderful comic book series, and not about making money, although that would be nice obviously. But once again i feel curve balled, and MS used to have their second tier pricing set at 100MB. Now they have chnaged that to a measely 50MB. That is bad for me, as my current ccGame take about 77MB.

What can i do? I first noticed this when submitting last night, and it would not let me choose the lowest option. It would be very tough to get this down to 50MB. It would mean that i would lose 25% of my resolution for the comic pages. And i like the way they look right now, BAH!

Not sure what to do at this point. But i feel that 3 dollars is too much.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Whats in a name?

Just how important is the name of a game?

I would have to say it is one of the most important decisions a design team can make. Of course nowadays a lot of games are named by the marketing department, and i guess that is a great thing.

I do not place too much importance on the name from a personal point of view. Though i do like names that make some level of sense for the game. Calling a card game 'shooterdude' would be wrong in my mind, even though, in a round about way a shute can be used in card playing.

So what do you name your games? Myself I want a name that i think will stick with people, so it should be a name that describes my game in some way. Sometimes this is hard and you want a sentence instead of a small name. Which is better though? that i do not know. Single named games have done just as well as multi part named games. 'Warcraft' vs 'Knights of the Old Republic' for example are completly two ends of the spectrum, and both did well. So maybe the name does not matter. These games though were both huge and probably for other reasons.

Now lets take my first game.... Aceball
It had a ball in it and erm, we themed it to have playing card references throughout. The reason for this was that we wanted a game that started with the first letter of the alphabet. This therefroe was a marketting decision, and one that has stood the test of time. Or we believe it has, cos it still downloads about 6 a day. Is this because it is on the first search page of all the apps? Or is it becasue people are looking for bat and ball classics and mine stands out because it has wonderful artwork? Either way the naming of this game was god i think in retrospect. I was going to call it 'ball breaker' or some such :o

Now we move on to my second game.... Pellmell
I liked the name. It was a word i am familiar with from who knows when and where. It means to run headlong without to much care, how appropriate a name for my shootemup where ya go running headlong down a corridor towards enemies, firing away with your blaster as you go. However this clever name was NOT a good marketting name. Most people I have met in the States are not familiar with the word (yes it is in the dictionary). It is also bad from a merketing perspective as it begins with the letter P, right smack bang in the middle of the the alphabet. BAH! I hardly make 1 download a day from this game. The sell through is good, so i take it people like it.. Woah! now i am drifting off target for this post. Pellmell was not a great choice of name for this product. I live, and I learn.

Now here i am about to go with my latest creation. This oe is a little different as it is a licensed product. So the name is mostly set. However nothing is easy eh! I wanted to call the game 'A Dreamland Chronicles - Trivia Challenge'. This described my game, and also started with an A and finally it had the license name in the title. How clever and marketting too. Woot!
But fickle are the MS laws of game naming, and to my chagrin i found last night that i am limited to Only 30 characters in the name. I cannot believe it!

so now i am considering my options. Though they are small in reality. As i will keep the license name and also the 'A'. So there is not really much to decide in 7 letters really.

Make good choices on your name if you can.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Are short posts possible ?

Not usre about that, but i'll try with this one.

Having a wart burnt off the end of my middle finger is not only painful, but also intereferes with my typing. BAH!

Heres hoping you never ever get a wart. I am told they are a virus that is caught from someone else, and can then be spread all over your own body. Eeewwwwww