Wednesday, December 15, 2010

new VertexBuffer() Xna3.1 -> Xna4.0

My latest errors seem to revolve a lot around vertex buffer api changes. There is  nice blog post here by Shawn Hargreaves.
Post about Vertex Buffer Changes

simply put though you remove your VertexDeclaration lines of code and just put 'typeof(RoundLineVertex)' the declaration in the second parameter of the VertexBuffer call, like these following two lines of code.
vb = new VertexBuffer(device, typeof(RoundLineVertex), numVertices * bytesPerVertex, BufferUsage.None);

// vdecl = new VertexDeclaration(device, RoundLineVertex.VertexElements);
After going through that it was very easy to change the VertexBuffer setups... Only now i have IndexBuffer to sort out. I did not write this original code and so have no real working knowlegde of the finer points required to make this stuff work. However I hope it wil be fairly straight forward once i under what has changed in the API. I understand what the buffer is for, only not whats changed at the moment.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blooming fixed some more Xna3.1 -> Xna4.0

So i had 28 erros, ALL of them pertaining to the Bloom component. Interesting. I know by experience that this is not the last of the errors. They are just being masked by the current issues. So i was not surprised when i fixed the Bloom to see a new selection of errors, 48 in total.

So fixing the Bloom was easy. I just compared the New 4.0 sample to what i had and copied over the changes. I would have just copied verbatim, but i knew i made several small changes to the Bloom and i did not want to do that again. This process only took about 5 minutes anyway.

So now onto my new Errors which include
does not conatin a definition for 'MinimumVertexShaderProfile'
VertexElementMethod does not exist

These are all to do with Roundline which i am actually not using at the moment in this game. I may remove it for now. I will bring it back when i want to use it (gonna be used for the Menu button descriptions I hope!)

So ever forward we go.

Now tomorrow night is my works party, i am sure i will not be posting then :)


Xna3.1 -> Xna 4.0 Solving missing types

So i had 158 errors and the most obvious one was the mising definitions for certain types like..

To solve this issue i created a brand spanking new Solution and opened it up. As the problem appeared to be mising references i started by opening up the referecnes for the new project, then comparing them with the ones in my broken project. Immediatly i saw i was missing a couple of very important reference files.
Obviously without these there is no way it can compile. You can just right click the References line and say 'Add Reference' then simply browse for these two to add them in.

Onto the next issues later..
Oh, i have about 28 errors left, Yay!

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Motivation is Lacking

Or put another way..
I do not yet have enough motivation to trawl through the myriad upgrading problems presented to me by the upgrade of Xna 3.1 to Xna 4.0 game Studio.

Still i feel every day more and more resolve, only not enough yet to actually boot up studio and stare at the current issues. Last night was close but lost out to spending time with my wife.

So the last week or so has still been busy for me. Playing lots of Cataclysm which i have been enjoying rather more than i expected. I have also been Kinect playing with Dance Central a lot. Boy is that my kinda game. In fact for me it is my GOTY. I even parted with 6 stinking dollars to get 2 downloadable dances, bah! I hate you Xbox (well not really). al i need now is to get a few more friends gamertags that actually play this game. Comparing my score to one friend is ok, but not enough darn it! I need to beat or be beaten by more people. It is also great cos my wife, son, and daughter also like to play this game. Truly awesome. I hope one day it will be able to actually play two at the same time (not like the take ya turns as it is now).

Maybe tonight will be the nigth i power up Dev Studio. I feel i have more resolve and also a few more tricky ideas of simple thing to try that i believe will solve my current issues. then onto new ones.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wow has accounted for my last night or two

I do have to say that it seems like an easy choice to play Cataclysm instead of developing games. Though this would not normally be true, IF in fact i could develop my game. However with Berzerkatron being stuck being upgraded to 4.0 Xna, it is hard to get into at all.

So instead of slogging through error  after error, i play Wow with my Son and our friends. Easy choice right now.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So i removed the Avatar code (Xna 3.1->4.0)

After all the issues last night i have decided to remove all Avatar code for now. The chnages look just too all encompassing.and i need to get something going, if only for my sanity. Though sanity aside, it is always best to divide and conquer a problem if at all possible, and i am of the beleif that all problems can be broken down in some way.

So what happened after removal of the Avatar code? Well i ended up with 158 Errors, woohoo! Now there is something i can dig into, only i wonder how many more are hiding under these, as is usually the case.

So my next Error is... (unexpected)
"Error 1 The type or namespace name 'Vector2' could not be found (are you missing a using directive or an assembly reference?)"
I also get similar errors for Vector4 and Color (now i knew Color had changed but the Base Vector type declarations?). I guess it's time to see what i should be presenting these as.

After about 25 minutes searching, i have not found an answer. I have a couple of the Samples from the App hub and they seem to work perfectly. So i have no clue at the moment what is wrong with some of my types. I also see the same issue with 'Rectangle', i am sure one cure will fit most of these.
Off to work now. But if anyone knows what is wrong or even a lead, i would love to hear it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

3.1 -> 4.0 Xna First Errors

My First Errors... Most likely what you will also see.

So what should i attack first? The component link issues or the Pixelshader. I guess i should go with the component and unleash a real torrent of errors :) It is more fun that way. Fixing the Pixelshader will only solve one problem.
  • So i simply right clicked the references in the project and deleted the offending system.xinq.xml.
  • Microsoft.Xna.Framework could not be found.  So i did the same with that. Not sure what repurcussions this might have later.
So onto my Pixelshader issue. While looking around the web for help on this i found this most excellent Blog where someone has done what i am doing now. Check it out here. So the change was quite simple. I just had to change the pixelshader name (yeah the bloom was using PixelShader to PixelSdr and i also saw that it had updated the 1_1 to 2_0 shader version. So onto my next issue.

My next issue that appears is becaue i am using Avatars. And as such on the PC it draw a set of polys to show the bones of the Avatar. Great for making sure you can prototype you game on the Pc, but bad cos now i need to fix whatever is wrong. The offending error is....
'XNA Framework HiDef profile supports a maximum of 16 simultaneous vertex elements'. This has caused me to figure out the .FBX animation files for my avatars are not compatible with Xna 4.0. So here is a link to the new ones New Avatar Anims. Yet still i am having issues with the Faint.fbx. the very same error as before. Not sure what to do, maybe i will attack it tomorrow night, so far i am losing this battle. I could just remove Avatars for now and re-introduce them later, but i still need them. I will also have a look at the new Avatar sample program for Xna 4.0 from here. Oddly enough the Avatar sample does not have errors in the same Faint.fbx file, though it does have a lot of warnings as expected. not sure what the solution is at present.

That is all i can do for tonight. I know i am not the most expert at this kind of upgrade, but i am also sure not everyone is great at this.

Time commited so far... 1.5 hours


Xblig Xna First load up in VS 2010

So I load up my project and it wants to convert it. Should be easy and straight forward enough i am sure.

When it is finished i find what appears to be my first issue..

Missing Configuration Selector and Build Menu option.
Here how to fix that.
  •    Find some good way of getting it back, so i searched the web and found this page Help. Follow the next bullet points to do what is nescessary though.
  • In Tools/Options click 'show all settings' in the bottom left corner
  • In Tools/Options/Project Solutions/General click the 'Show advanced build configurations'
  •    Now this had me baffled cos it still did not work. Until...
  • In Tools/Settings select 'Expert Settings'
  •   As if by magic you now have your Build menu along with Config selector. YAY!
So that was my first foray. What will be next I wonder.

I have decided i might have to be more granular in the way i Blog this. so it can be more useful and also keep me Blogging the details. So after they are all done, i will do a post linking them in order.


Getting Xna 4.0

Should be simple enough Dotcha think ?

Just go to the downloads section of the App Hub and there ya go? Well not so simple.

Here is the link and what it says on App hub. Some more links that seem to confuse more than solve my issues. Really, why would you not at this point just give 2 clickable options? One for Phone 4.0 and one for windows/Xblig.
What ya get on App Hub

This is the link everyone will want that just wants the Game Studio 4.0 for developing for Xblig and Windows.
Xna Game Studio 4.0 download link

This next link is where you can find all the Visual studio express downloads. Much easier than trying to find an actual link on the app Hub.
Visual Studio Express Download Link

Oh, i installed the Visual Studio first (i found that instruction somewhere and felt it made sense.

Next post should be me attempting to solve some of the first problems that we encounter in the upgrade. I intend to Blog the whole procedure to make it faster and easier for the next person.

After my HD crash

Well it seems the Hard Drive crash wasn't too bad after all. Yeah, it made windows crash real badly when trying to start up. But i have managed to claim all my files off it. I will reformat it and use it as a second drive.

So it is not all bad. Only i am not feeling well at the moment, so fixing up my stuff is very hard. Also, i cannot find where the heck my Office disks are hiding. I even left them in the fancy plastic box as well.

So now it is time for bed. I hope to wake up bright as a bunny rabbit on a cold and frosty morn.

G'night all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Upgrading to 4.0 from 3.1 Xna

Ok, so call me stupid if ya want. But i went to the App hub and tried to quickly grab the Xna suite and C# Express for my new windows install. Now i figured this would be a really fast and simple thing to do. Only it didn't turn out that way. In fact i obtained the locations of these files to install them from searching the WWW with Google. WTF is that about, really.

What i got from the App Hub initially was a version of VS that is for the WM7 Phone. also the Xna suite that goes with it. This was causing me issues trying to get my windows version working. In fact i knew  i had an issue right away cos of the fact there were no active configurations. Still, i guess i missed something somewhere.

Why is it so hard for people not just MS to make  anice download page where items and basic instructions are laid out. Starting with what ya might be interested in and then drilling down to the real page. Now i know some people will think that it already exists, and don't get me wrong, there is something. A lot of talk and either no links or broken ones.

what a pile is my first thoughts on foraying into Xna 4.0 world.

Tomorrow i will attempt to upgrade my 3.1 application to 4.0. (i have located some useful looking links to help me out, i will put them in an update tomorrow if they do me any good).


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Windows 7 is now mine!

After my HD died yesterday i went and bought a replacement from Best Buy. A 500GB unit that should be fine for developing on. Then i spent 3.5 hours formatting and re-installing windows Xp on it. Only to realise as i went to bed late that it may not be my best course.

One of the reasons i have been not wanting to upgrade to Windows 7 is simply because of the time and work involved with doing the re0-install of all the applications i use. However i have now been forced to do just that. So after talking it over this morning with my friend, i went out and bought a windows 7 upgrade.

I have to say that the installation was amazingly simple and fast compared to the Xp version. It has been wonderful so far. Of course i hope it continues this way.

I now have my Blog bookmarked once more and am hoping to get back to developing soonish. Of course i probably have at least 2-3 more days of installing software ahead of me. Time will tell.


and one bonues is that Adobe Air works on this system now, so now i have Tweetdeck at home, Freakin Yeah!

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Desktop Broke

So although i wanted to get a video up of the Zombies. With my PC going down and me spending all night trying to resurrect it (with limited success). I guess i am not going to be doing anything productive for a while.

Currently the machine is stuck without noticing it's on board network card. So i need drivers, and so far have been unable to fix it.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Zombies are first

Well a few people gave me feedback on which of my five enemy types i should do first, and in what order the others should follow on.

Now i have to say before i reveal the order that i had in mind to do the Zombies first. simply because they are the easiest to actually implement for 10 levels on two different maps. however i didn;t really want to do the cliched zombies first. It felt a bit like a cop out and that is all I might be judged on. Now several people have experessed the Zombies should be first, i am just going to go with it and know that the other enemies will add the gameplay depth that this game will hopefully allow people to enjoy.

So without further Ado, here is a simple single screenshot.

Yeah, it really doesn't do it justice huh! Here are a few notes for the above picture.
  • I (the player) am mostly hidden under the explosion in the upper middle, slighlty to the left.
  • Lots of gore on the floor from where i have been shooting Zombies
  • Those boomerangs are not boomerangs at all but are in fact Zombie arms. Each Zombie can throw two at you. Currently they throw them way too fast.
  • Are ya wonderign what the circles are? Well they are my zombies.
  • The circles with numbers in them are the animations of when my Zombies will claw it's way out of the ground. at that time they cannot be hit or touched.
  • Once above ground they will come hunt you down. I have supplied simple arrows to make sure they are doing the correct animation.
  • Of course my son is still there as a civilian, waiting to be rescued.
Once i get real animations this whole scene will come to life. I feel good that i can already imagine these suckers coming out of the ground and heading towards you in their ungainly shuffle. Though i also know that when those graphics go in, i will still be amazed at how great this will look.

Hmm, i keep talking about this in motion. Maybe i need to make a video of it, maybe tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Which Enemies should be first ?

I just cannot decide. I have several designs covering all the 5 different enemies written down in note form. Some even have sketches. Now i am at the point where i should write them and i cannot decide which to do first...

Aliens will be cool as they shoot plasma bolts at you while teleporting around the level. should be cool gameplay.

Zombies are dumb as mud, but will show off my particles particularly well.

Robots are gonna shoot at you and generate drones while also explosing in a glorious mechanical fashion.

Pirates are will have the most devastating firepower in some repsects. Exploding cannonballs will be fun to do, along with the boomerang parrots.

Ninjas quick movements will be exciting to wtch and hard to shoot at. Should be fun in a really frenetic way. Glad they will be fragile (well compared to Zombies anyway)


I guess i will have to choose before i next sit in front of my computer.


Levels, Scenes or just layouts?

I have been calling these things all of those things and more, like maps for example. Though all they are in reality is a level layout made up of walls. See the problem, haha.

Below is several of what i am talking about.

The Red blob is the starting spot for the level.
The Yellow blobs are the 10 spots where Civilians might be (depending on how many are required for your current stage)

The first one also has some images of the battle taking place along with some lines that depict where some of the enemy movement will be.

So now i have all 10 of the SCENES or MAPS created. I have also done the data tables for the teleport spot and where all the civilians might be. So next up is to actually start designing real enemies for the individual levels. As it so happens there will be two scenes to an enemy type, and luckily for me i have chosen 5 distinctly different enemy types. Check them out below....
  1. Ninjas (fast and throw fast shurikens at ya)
  2. Aliens (classic egg shaped head, technologically advanced)
  3. Pirates (slow moving but fire exploding cannonballs at ya, and maybe boomerang parrots no less, YAR!)
  4. Zombies (yup a players favorite. These guys are dumb as they come, they throw limbs at ya)
  5. Robots (one of my personal favourites)
As you might have noticed from my list. I have covered a Whos who of enemy/bad guy types that are popular in games currently. I am fortunate that i can make all these types quite different to each other, to enhance the overall gameplay experience. Whilst also being able to promote this game as having all of them in it.

So, my next job is in fact to decide which of my scenes best fit the gameplay styles of the enemies. I have to choose two scenes per enemy type. should be easy right ?

Time will tell.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Motorbiking at El Mirage was great

So my family got to go on saturday to the place 100 miles away from where i live called El Mirage, a dry lakebed just outside Victorville.

We met up with a few friends there that went in their Motorhome and we went and towed our trailer. Along with a full complement of Motorcycles on the back of the truck. It was in fact in doubt wether r not we would get there, as my daughter was not well over thanksgiving and my wife was taking ill. So we ended up leaving a day late, but going anyway on saturday. My wife is a real trooper and so wanted to go and see our friends (and ride of course).

We got there and found them near the top of the dry lakebed. the whole of el mirage was quite busy, and although i say busy, for a place that big, it is not a problem at all. So we circled the camp firepit and said hello to our friends, one of whom is pregnant with her second boy, woohoo!

I won't bore with too many details apart from the fact i got to do a nice ride with my family, but also a couple of major rides with the guys (4 of us). We did 22 miles on one of the rides on saturday and that was pretty epic. All sorts of terrain like sand and rocks and cliffs(they looked like cliffs). Only 1 spill happened when one of our friends tried to ride over a ditch (made of soft sand) and the bike sunk like a stone and he went clean over the bars. He wasn't hurt and that was cool. After the ride i think we were all hurting, it was quite tiring.

during the afternoon and then into the night the wind kept picking up it's pace, it was also very cold. Even though we had a huge bonfire it was still rather cold outside. Which was unfortunate as it tends to stifle free flowing conversation. Once the finished with the smors and glowing bangle things it was time for bed (about 10:30pm ish). That would have been ok, except it started to rain quite hard, and the wind was whipping it like mad. It was very noisy inside the trailer and things were clunking and banging, thoug i could not see what was doing it. I attempted to go outsdie at one point, but the wind and cold and sleet put me off.

Nevetheless at about 2am the rain had stopped so i ventured outside into the biting wind to see what damage had been wrought. I found the thing that had been knocking and tied it up using a motorcycle tie-down. That put paid to it's noise. Walking around outside really got my shoes all muddy, which was a pain. I left them on a bunch of kitchen roll till morning.

Still the new day dawned bright and dry and the wind was drying the lakebed out nicely. If it had continued to rain, getting of the lakebed would have been very difficult.

So the boys got together to go for a ride and i ended up leading. Now noone told me they were just out for a short ride. In fact everyone in camp knew about the ride being short except me, and i was leading, lol. So lead the 4 of us all over El Mirage and in the end did about 8 miles. It took us some time because the wind was so cold we kept stopping to get feeling back into our lips and thumbs. It was on this ride that one of my friends attempted a troublesome hill a couple of times and didn't fall off, at least according to him ;)

It was a wonderful time with wonderful people.

Tomorrow it is back to coding and game design. Maybe myxbox will be on it's way back as well... I sure hope so.


Friday, November 26, 2010

RenderTarget code is in

I expected this engine change to be an easy task, and i am so glad to announce that it really was easy. In fact i had no issues at all (ok, except for spelling errors). It was a little off as i did a quick search of the web and it popped up this nice web site that has incredibly helpful tuition code and samples for Xna types.


So i just linked above the page i used, and as i am already familiar with the concepts of Target texture rendering i really only stole the lines of code they put in the article. Of course this led me to actually reading it and quite enjoying the easy style it is written in.

So, anyone thinking of adding a rendertarget for mirrors, or mirrored gameplay visuals  or maybe pixelization for scaling. OR in my case i will be using to scale the screen in the options menu, so people with really bad overscan on their TVs can adjust it to suit them. As my game won't care to much about it's aspect ratio, i will just let the screen be scaled. This will of course make it so any fonts at minimum size will then be a little too small, something i wil have to take care of when i get there.

Good luck.


Thanksgiving was great

Now i am sitting here at my home computer stuffed to the gills. It was a very pleasant day at my Friends house. I met a lot of people i know already and a bunch that were new. Everyone was wonderful to talk with and i am sure i did plenty of talking hehe.

The only downer on the day is the fact that my Daughter is not feeling well, so couldn't go, along with my Wife. I sure hope she feels better soon as we have planned a camping trip out to the desert at El Mirage so we can freee our behooties off, lol. Ok, so it is so we can camp and do some off roading.

Time will tell if we get out there tomorrow.

As for Berzerkatron, i have started work on the infamous Berzerkinator. So far he is spawning and looking meekly at my player avatar. Soon he will realize his true potential for killing and mayhem.

g'night and Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teleporters are cool

I got my level start and end teleporters in yesterday. Which is good, cos now i can see the proper timing when starting and ending a level. Which is an important factor to the fow of the game. Especially if you are like me and counting how long a level lasts, to see if it is tweaked right, and also that it meets the criteria of sweet, fast levels to bring people into the game. Also of course because Trials are only so long.

So i borrowed some graphics that the artist did for Pellmell for now (it looked nice and had enough frames to use). It works quite well. So now the flow is in, i teleport into the game, the enemies start shooting 2 seconds after, and once i have collected all the civilians (though soon, some may die!) the teleporter dutifully appears and waits for you to enter, when it will then fade out over 1 second. Taking you with it, and the level also fades.

I also got in 5 of the level (scene) wall setup/designs. These are wheer all the enemies have to be written and placed. That of course is where there is going to be real fun. I also made a spawn list of places to spawn the civillians at. Makes it much tider than them all appearing in one corner, or worse in walls or in no go areas.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Berzerkatron Gameplay Video #2

This is my current work in progress for my next Xblig game. I will explain after the video a lot more details about what is actually going on in the video, that might give you some idea of how far along i am in the creation process.

Well that was fairly hectic eh!

  1. The walls change color depending on what has hit them, you=red, enemy bullets=yellow and your bullets=blue. This is just to get some nice wall reaction code in and working. What i end up doing with it, only time will tell. currently i think i will just have to make the splash of color cross fade happen much faster. I like the effect, just needs to be more frenetic.
  2. The red splats on the floor and the drops of stuf that fly off you and enemies. This is about perfect for my vision. Of course when you are fighting robots that color will be yellowish most likely, along with say green blood for the aliens. the over the top splat on the screen might have to be toned down a bit. I am not sure at the moment.
  3. The odd green boxes around stuff is my test detection areas. I should have turned them off for this video, but i quite liked seeing them on, you can see what i am testing for wall collisions then (rect-rect). Bullets and enemies hitting my bullets and me are all radius checks though.
  4. The dancing dude is my son who kindly donated 3 photos to be in the game. He is a civilain and it is your job to save as many as you can on a level. In fact the teleporter to get you off a level won't appear until you collect all the civilians that are alive on a level. I look forward to doing some excellent audio cues for the civilians (think comical and ott)
  5. The spinning stars are currently my money. they should be coins, but i had this animation and no coin one. You collect money to be able to afford powerups and enhancements at the end of each level. There is the possibility that i will make the shop available at all times, just pause to spend.
  6. Currently the game only has some very basic enemies, and as you can see they use existing sprites from  A Shooter, not the best looking this for this game of Robots and Ninjas and Aliens etc.
  7. There will be firepower powerups and more, but i have not coded them yet. Although i do have them designed.
  8. I have all my fading into and out of the levels fully working. Though i could do with attaching it to the green boxes, lol
Next up is adding the teleporter control and features. Then some Real gameplay (bullet, movement enemy and enemy bullet speeds balanced). Then it will be to design 30 levels or so... hehe

I hope you enjoyed this little show and tell, if ya have any comments or suggestions, please feel free.

More work done today

So many bits and pieces were connected up today. Mainly just tables for multiple level handling. Still i feel good i have done them all. Now i have to fill them in however, bah!

I also worked on start points and i actually only have the first 3 levels with real walls. so i only did 3 real start points. Still, it shows it works and is sort of fun to play. I am getting close now to having to actually work on the gameplay and level design properly. Something oddly enouhg i am not totally in the mood for (really odd that). I know it means that i will move to the next phase of this game. And... usually it takes me longer to do gameplay and play balancing than all of the coding. Still i have not written a single menu, or even started the menu code.

I may work on the Top level menu soon though, cos not being able to pause my game sucks a bit tbh.

I shall have to make another video of work so far. I did create a spawning enemy on the second level. He is one nasty piece of work. Should work well for Robots though, no doubt.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

No work just Wow

Yup, it was one of those days that i did not get any programming done. Not a bad day though, as i managed to fit the TRailer (Caravan) with a new LCD tv. This is a good thing as we are going away for thanksgiving again this year. Out camping in the Desert and doing some off roading while spending time with friends. Lovely.

So today i did get to spend some quality time PVPing with some friends of mine. Even though we are a thousand miles away from each other (well except for 1 of the gys who lives close to me). It was fun to play together.

As well as the Caravan tv install, i also got to visit Home Depot and buy some stuff like glue (needed for the tv install).

All in all it was a very productive day, even if that mean't killed  300 people in PV and leveled 10 bubs on my level 79 rogue.

Oh, i also outlined a design for a new puzzle game to my friend Terry. Hope he likes it :)


Friday, November 19, 2010

Dreamland passes WM7 cert!

"Congratulations robert toone of SorceryGames LLC! Dreamland Chronicles has successfully passed certification for Windows Phone Marketplace! You may now publish your application to the Marketplace."

This is the joyous email i just looked at. It has taken a while for me to get through cert, but i am now there. In fact i have to say that the testing department have done an outstanding job. They really did try hard to help me out and were amazing with their blinding speed of failure. Very cool.
Now i have learn't a lot and hope that the next one can go a lot more smoothly. As you might have read in my previous post, i have now started designing some modifications for my Xblig games, just in case i want to move them over later. The biggest single feature to add is the use of the back button always going somewhere. Should  be easy enough i reckon.
Expect to see The Dreamland Chronicles Game on your WM7 now.

It appears i cannot instal Zune software to see my own game in the WM7 marketplace. So i hope it is there. (i have 64 bit Xp)

WM7 development onGoing

Well we have been stuggling to get our WM7 game going. It is of course our Dreamland Chronicles Game. This appeared to be the easiest to port over from Xblig, and i love easy. Only it has taken a bit longer than anticipated.

Mostly the delays have been caused by two things. Not having a WM7 phone to actually test load times on (boy they must be slow!). Aaaand the Back button rquirements. my prgrammer did not take seriously enough the requirement and so did not account for all the places that the back button could be pressed. He did most of them however and now we are over what appear to be the load time issues. Maybe we are finally on our way to test the waters of WM7.

Some people have been telling me what a mess Microsoft has made of the WM7 phone launch. Things like they have only sold 40K phones in their first week, while Droid phones sold 400K in their first weekend. I have no idea how much of this is true. Though i do have to say my friend is a reliable source of information. I just hope the sites he visits are all the naysayers and thats it.

Testing the waters is important for me and my programmer freind who is converting this code to WM7. If it looks worthwhile, then we can afford to upgrade machines to do this development (my main PC is not good enough for WM7 emulation). If this market is not happening, then i can just save myself a bundle of money. Though i would love it to do well.

One side effect of the WM7 development is the alteration or influence to my Xblig designs. I will from now on take into account an alternative control scheme for any game i make. along with that, i will also plan on the back button working universally even on the Xbox.

Good luck for everyone else that is deciding on venturing into this new and unkown territory.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Presence in Xblig Games

I have always loved the idea of presence, and in some Xbla titles i have had the pleasure of working on, I did indeed use presence. Xblig and it's Xna studio has some built in functionality for doing this same thing, though with a few restrictions. I used the presence in A Shooter and i have to say tat seeing it first hand like that, watching in a way your friends progress from boss to level etc is really a great feeling.

Making adding it into the code well worth while.

// first i started by enumerating my Own presence values, for the ones i wanted to use.
MENU = 0,

// then i simply call this routine with the state i want to be known, it basically converts my own enum, to the Xna studi type and sets it
public void SetPresenceForAllPlayers(int _state)
  foreach (SignedInGamer sig in Gamer.SignedInGamers)
   switch (_state) {
    case ((int)PRESCENCE.MENU):
     sig.Presence.PresenceMode = GamerPresenceMode.AtMenu;
    case ((int)PRESCENCE.STAGE):
     sig.Presence.PresenceMode = GamerPresenceMode.Stage;
     sig.Presence.PresenceValue = cLevel.iLevel+1;
    case ((int)PRESCENCE.COOPSTAGE):
     sig.Presence.PresenceMode = GamerPresenceMode.CoOpStage;
     sig.Presence.PresenceValue = cLevel.iLevel+1;
    case ((int)PRESCENCE.BOSS):
     sig.Presence.PresenceMode = GamerPresenceMode.BattlingBoss;

Good luck implementing your own Presence. I have posted this here, just so people can see how easy it is to really implement


Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Slim is Slim

It is also quiet. It also got me really annoyed when i first connected it up.

Cos it told me to insert a Disk, a Disk that did not come with the new 4gb Xbox Slim. How can this be? So i went to the net to search for answers. After 10 minutes i was none the wiser. So decided to pull all th cables and re-attach them, This time i would not connect the Kinect connector (what a mouthful!).

That was it, it now booted up correctly and elt me set it up and recover my gamertag as well. Woohoo! But why oh why did it have such a none descriptive message on the bos. Are you telling me that i am the only person that would autometically connect up all the cables i have ? I just don't believe it. I think Ms missed that one.

So anyone out there that initially sets up their Xbox slim and it asks for a Disk, just go disconnect your Kinect and reboot.

Good luck

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Xbox has Died

It is a sad day today. I feel really bad, little things going awry and the last straw was my Elite going 3 Red rings on me.  Maybe i have been so busy carting it around from my bedroom workplace to the living room of late. Maybe i am asking too much for you to power my Kinect as well, i just don't know.

I do know that it will cost me a whopping 99 bucks to get it looked at by MS. Boo!

But the thing is, it can be amazing how unlucky a single decision can make stuff. Let me explain....

Today i went out to Walmart and Gamestop. I wanted to by Lips for my Xbox so we can have some loud Karaoke to go along with the raucous Kinect fun. Walmart did not have it so, off we go to Gamestop. Yes, they have it, woohoo! Now while i was out i had also sort of decided that i really should be a more dedicated Xbox for the living room area. So i wouldn't have to keep moving my Xbox around etc. I decided not to buy it at gamestop cos i wanted to check prices online, were there any good deals etc..

Well as it happend as soon as i got home i grabbed my Xbox, which had been left on in the bedroom running A Shooter as a server for my high score sharing. So i turned it off and unplugged it, as i walked out of the bedroom with it there was a clank as the power cord hit the side of the Xbox. Ouch i thought, but it'll be ok. It seems i was wrong and that clang was a fatal touch of Red Ringiness.

So i have since got a little annoyed cos i could have bought the Xbox Slim while i was out. Then i would not have even unplugged mine from the bedroom, and as you can tell. Everything would have worked out great, haha!

So now i really need the new Xbox to play Lips and Kinect on.

I have found this whole scenario very depressing, and i feel like an old friend has decided to unfriend me from facebook or something. My life is now not as complete as it was.


At least i can buy a new friend tomorrow, and the new one is gonna be slimmer ;)


Friday, November 12, 2010

Dilemna for my Avatar game

One of the rules i set myself a while ago for use of such trappings as Avatars, is that they should fit into the game. Seems simple enough for sure. However my latest venture has met with a big Dilemna.

Simply put i have made 4 games (ok, one is a quiz). So 3 games that i believe play very well. My conversion number also seem to attest to not being too shabby. Now all this sounds great apart from the single fact that.. I get no downloads. Or virtually none. Or not enough (whatever that is).

So with my next title I really wanted to address the lack of downloads issue and hope that i could keep the same conversion rates of about 20%+. There are a couple of factors i was using to get these download numbers.
1. Avatar games appear to download the most. Even if they are crap, they get greater than 10K downloads. A Number i would love to have.
2. Zombie games also download a lot (ie, best selling game on Xblig). However some failed Zombie games do not download much at al (3K). So Zombies are not such a safe bet, but to be honest are generally more fun than an Avatar game.
3. Fact 3, yeah i said only two, haha! Wel Massagers get downloaded too, What a stinking pile of crap can do is amazing. I WILL NOT GO THERE!!

So the trick was to write a good Avatar game with a Zombie or two in it. Heck after discussing it with my kids they would love me to have Ninjas, Pirates, Robots and Vampires as well. Great, np then. All enemeies accounted for :)

So i have been working when i have time on making splatter for when ya hit/shoot enemies. I went and spent way too long egtting Avatars into my game. I have the main controlled character running around now shooting at the enemy (a shooter ships currently). Who also shoot back. This basic gameplay test worked really well. I have been designing a lot more enemies and levels to play on. Even powerups and character enhancements to buy. Only......

Since @Stegergames mentioned the gore and Avatars cannot be together, and then my following research. It seems Microsoft have made it impossible or very very dificult for me to have zombies and gore and Avatars exist together. Avatars you see cannot be mained or dismembered, that was ok with me. I was not gonna hurt the Avatars in any way at all. I thought this would allow me to still write the game i wanted to, in the style i wanted to write it. But Avatars must not also witness this violence or cause it. This last sentence is a real downer.

I wanted zombies, i wanted to splat them all over the place and have arms and heads falling off. this would sem to fit the demographic of a lot of Xblig buyers. My game would be solid whatever, but visceral feedback would be awesome. But now i cannot use my Avatar to main and kill them (are they alive?).

So i am at a crossroads....
Do i keep Avatars in my game and dumb down the action (make it comical for example).
Do I keep the gore and Visceral mayhem and remove the Avatars from the game.

Of course i could have cheated and just put one on the title page like some Avatar games, only.. I cannot do that, as i explained right at the start of this article.

I am at a loss of what is the right choice.... BAH!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Avatar Berzerkatron Initial Gameplay Video

I told ya i would post it, and here it is.

Woohoo! It's a mess. But messy is what it is about. Think about the name of the game and you will realise that it is a mixture of classic games. But in a whole new way (i hate that last sentence, i hate seeing it on other game descriptions too!). It is really a melding of two classic games that i love. Brought into a more modern and waaay messier look.

Hope ya like what ya see, and as this is a  PC video, well the avatar is a set of bones only. the next gameplay video will feature a temp sprite in his place i think.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Prototype is going well

Here i am still tidying up my code. Still playing with my prototype. Only last night and a bit this morning, it took on more of a feel of a real game. Ya see i added some basic enemy movements inot what might be my first level.

Although they are basic movements and they all fire at me, i also got to run around the level trying to dodge their bullets and them, while firing at them. In all honesty it sucked at first. Yet you can probably tell i am a bit excited about what happened next. I made my fire faster. Yup, that's right. I made my slow fire (testing speed captain!) go about 3 times faster in velocity and Whammo, all of a sudden i could track the enemies with my twin stick shooting controls. This suddenly brought the game to life.

I will post a video of my progress that i took tomorrow (i need to sleep now!). I think it is pretty good and shows so much of what i have been busy doing. Only it does not show the amount of tidying up i have done in the code. I now have a lot more objectivity in the different areas of the game managers, i also removed so many redundant variables etc.

So roll on my new Avatar Berzerkatron game (that could be it's name, but it is certainly it's working title).


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another post about the unkown Xblig

So i didn't post yesterday, and for good reason. I was out in the desert with my son doing some Boy Scout camping trip. Now this trip had a fair number of boys aging from 10-16. A wonderful demographic of Xbox owners maybe?

Yes, they were mostly Xbox owners, and they also had Live accounts. Woohoo! i have hit a jackpot here. Let me find out what they know about Xblig as i pimp my wares. And whaddya know... They didn't know anything about Xblig. I also had to describe where the tab is now in the New dash, so that made it harder. The main point here is they didn't know about it. Not one of them. Made me a bit sad to be honest. how am i supposed to sell to people that don't even know the channel exists, never mind my game.

At this point i think the  whole marketing thing is overhyped. I have spent more time and money on marketting my game in a channel that noone knows exists. Done.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Stopping when having fun Programming

How do ya do it eh?

Here i am so busy working on Bleed effects of all things as i shoot some enemy ship. They splat on teh ground under him. Yeah i drew the splat (32x32 texture). It looks so good. so then i spend way too much time twiddling with it. Even though it will get replaced by a better sprite definition at some point by a real artist.

I have to say it has taken me way too long tonight to stop coding this effect. It has been fun having ti splat away like it is peeing as it goes. But..

It is time to stop tonight.I have to be up early tomorrow for a Boy Scout Trip to El Mirage and me and my Boy are going to set of rockets, woohoo! (oh and off road ride of course, but away from the BSA group!)

so i sincerely hope anyone reading this that happens to write games gets as excited about new graphics and effects as i do. It is wonderful.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Shooter Completion Competition winner

It is true, someone has completed the A Shooter game. that is all 13 levels, and jusdging from his core he did it all from the start to the end.

Final Mirage you have my utmost respect in completing this game. You are the first outside of myself and my artist to fully through the game. I wonder if anyone else will have the desire and determination to complete the game. Final Mirage told me via twitter that he did it by playing 3 days for 1-1.5 hours a day.

It is also nice to have my levels justified in some repsect. I was getting worried that noone had the old school gameplay down, or maybe it was that they did not see they were getting better every time they played. Maybe in fact it was the Bosses which can be a bit of a tough deal when ya first meet them. Look at the global high scores to see how many people are actually stuck on Level 5 for example. the first boss that really makes ya come up with a new play method.

I know now that i should have had the normal mode be the Hard mode, and this would mean the easy mode should have become the Normal. I think that i overestimated the abilities of newer players, who are really not used to dodging bullets in this classic arcade style. It could be that i underestimated my own prowess and that just plain sounds better :) I do know that in future i shall make sure i plan the over-arching difficulty better.
 for example:-
 I plan my next game to have the options available throughout the gameplay experience. I will allow the player to change the difficulty as they go along. So they would be able to play a level through on easy mode, but then change it for the boss for instance.

sounds like a good plan to me


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making a milestone is great

On monday we made our milestone at work. We not only delivered what we are contracted too, but we also delivered quite a bit more. It doesn't really matter in some respects what is on that contract for your milestone. It is whether or not you will meet your real contracted end date. If you are skilled or lucky enough to write the milestones corrctly, then you should have a smooth transition through each milestone and onto the glorious end of the dev process.

I do not believe that this is the normal though. I have a lot of experience in creating and working with big games. It amazes me just how many are very badly mielstoned, or not mielstoned at all when they are internal for some big studios. If you really want to make money making games, it is best to have a plan, a plan that can cost out the money and time it will take to make the game. Once you have the time layed out, you can setup several partitions and name them and fill in what should be working by then.

I personally love milestones, they prove to me each month that i am on track, that makes me feel good. They can also remind you about stuff that ya might have forgotten as well.

Onto my next  milestone I go, over delivery is our goal!


Dreamland Chronicles for the WM7 platform

I got an email several days ago saying that the open submissions would start on November 3rd. well it is noevmber 3rd now. I have stayed awake to be ready for the off and Whammo get my Dreamland game out onto this platform.

I am lucky enough to have a friend who has done this port for me of my Xblig title. If it looks ok on the machine we will port some other of my games. However I am still unable to post at the moment.

I know they may have mean't 'sometime' during the day, but heck i am Pacific time, it should be now!! it is a new day.

I have been so excited about this all day as well. Guess i'll need to try and sleep :S


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Clean up that code sonny!

Although i haven't had much time for my own stuff. I have been twiddling with the code a bit here and there. One of the jobs i am doing that does not usually require a lot of hours at any time is to tidy up my code.

Tidying up the A Shooter code is quite interesting, as i do not really remember the bits of glue code i had to write to make some stuff just work right. However as i look through the code i see parts where  some gameplay elements coordinate systems are being translated into the main coordinate system (the 2d one the sprites use). This is sort of fun tidying up this annoying things.

However one must have a plan to tidy things up. Simply changing this badness for other badness is not a recommended solution to anything. Let me give you an example of one of the main things i found annoying about A Shooter code.

In A Shooter all the sprites are 2D. They have an X/Y postion and width and a height. simple enough and it shouldbe always simple. There is a question about where to do some of the Width/2 coding though. for such things as detection. Or target to fire at coordinates. so a lot of my code would look at the player and add onto the X/Y coords the half width and half height offsets to shoot at the center of the player. Again that is simple enough in and of itself. However you also need to fire from the center of the Alien itslef. Aho! another X/Y pos plus half width and half height. We have now done it twice. Well then it gets worse. You then have to detect the hit boxes against each other also doing the very same calculations. So now we are up to 4 at least. There are other systems as well that interface with all these coordinate offsets. I knew there was a simpler way, but by the time i realised it was a problem i was too far down dev road to turn back.

The simpler way is to just draw the sprite with an origin set to it's center. Though this is great for A Shooter as it used mostly Radius checks for collision, it is not so good for box detections. If you are doing box detections, then you could of course keep your origin in the top left corner and just use the width and height for you box extremies.

What does this all mean ? Well it really means you should know which way is best for your style of game. Then work out how many different times you will be doing such calculations. You could even make a nice simple function to wrap the hideous offset adds in, and that might make ya feel better.

Myself, i am going to move the origins into the middle of the enemy and player graphics, and then use offsets for what i need from there. Simply because i KNOW for sure where the thing is, i donot have to do a math quiz to figure out how close i am etc.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Line Intersection

Apart from My Work PC suddenly dying yesterday afternoon and making my current milestone a real bear to achieve (yes virtually everything is in Perforce). It's a bear because i now have to setup a new machine, though that is waiting till i know for sure i cannot resurrect the dead one. PC Necromancy ftw! hahaha

Well, erm, onto the title of this post. Line intersecting code.
I want to do two new things in my next game, or at least in this playfull prototype i am working with. Those two things will be awesome additions to my main game cod ebase, even if i end up not actually using them in my next game.
They are:-
1. LOS check (line of sight)
2. Line Collisions (radius, or distance from a line)

Number 1 (LOS, is gonna be great for controlling when enemies can actualy see me. I just don't want that dumb loking enemy firing at me through walls etc. Looks dumb, and i am better than that. It should make a game seem so much more solid too.

Number 2, collisions to lines. This is gonna be great coupled with the LOs checking. When an enemy fires at me i can see if it hit a thin wall that i just ducked behind. I already have point vs rectangle checks for bigger objects. this will just give me some fine control.

With these new technologies added, i reckon i can make some more interesting games to play.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shoot them all up

I got sidetracked last night when i was working on some documents for an upcoming milestone at work. (i was at home, and it was late).

I altered the directional fire control in my ashooter base work in progress game to to my second joystick. Then i got to twin stick the  ashooter leveles to bits with this config. I have to say i reckon it was a complete blast and opens up some excitement from me to do a sequel already. The only thing stopping me is the fact i would still not have an Avatar in the game. Wedging an Avatar into a game like this does not feel good to me either. so not sure how i might resolve that. If A Shooter had sold even a 1000 copies i would be all over it. I have some great ideas that would make the gameplay progressive from A Shooter and add a whole lot more gameplay. Hard not to get excited about it really. a Side scrolling game but your ship would have a turret for full directional fire control. Just think of the boss fights i could do, woot!

ahh well, back to the Docs, haha


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whats in a Name (partial Post Mortem)

Here is a post mortem on the name of my recent Xblig game.

It seems quite a lot really. Mostly it is funny how ya don't always realise what is right in front of ya nose.

Take for example my most recent game 'A Shooter'. I did quite a lot of research in game names that were popular for the iPhone. I found that a lot of games for the iphone name iBlah did rather well. In fact of the large list of games that started their name with the letter 'i', most had done rather better than other similar named games. How is this so? Well i don't know of course, but that wasn't gonna stop me using this information to make the name of my game better and more sellable.

But research is only as good as two things (well two that come immediately to mind).
1. Applying this research.
2. Attention to the details of the research.

I did not quite pay enough attention to number 2. I had all the right information, but i failed to notice one vital thing. I did not apply my research properly (number 1). I did it wrong and simply put i ... Well wait... Have you already figured out the mistake only a buffoon could make?

Let's give ya a clue....
Here is a few of the researched names.
Ad here is the name of My game,
 A Shooter

So? did ya notice the difference? Yeah... I should have made the name 'aShooter' and NOT 'A Shooter'.

It may seem like a silly and subtle mistake, but it has had some dire consequences. For example, you cannot search for my games name. If you do, you will be inundated with so many fps shooter games it is insane. It is just not possible to find my game. This is really bad, and i would suggest anyone that is thinking of naming their game, they go do a simple Google search to see if it is still advisable.

Please take this as a cautionary tale. Think first,and before you act, think again.

I removed my Xblig reserved name today ("A Platformer"). i am sure you all know why.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Game and Menus systems

I have been rewriting the way my game is put together.

It is a royal pain in the butt, though i believe it will be worth it. ya see i have a hybrid system in place that another programmer i was working with introduced into my base system. Then he never quite got to finishing it all and i did finish it, only not quite consistantly (it wasn't my vision after all). so now i have decided is the time to do the big change i want.

Simply put i want to
Separate out the Menu system from the Game system. They can converse through some nice function calling to tell each other what is happening. One of the main reasons for doing this change is that i really want my options screen to be able to appear while the game is running underneath (though paused i am sure :) ). I cannot do that the way things are in A shooter. It is work and doesnt feel like i am being very productive with the small amount of time i have. However it will make my future stuff more consistant and i believe faster to create.

I now have all the menu code ripped out and introduced a much more succinct naming system for acessing other classes etc. Getting it to compile was a pain, as i am used to C and C++ and just cos C# says it doesn't have headers, it might as well. It's all the freaking same in the end.

Anyway, time for bed for me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Waving Bones

After getting way too few hours to play with the new Avatar class i appropriated from UberGeekGames. I have the bone dude(Avatar on PC) waving at me as i fly him around in A Shooter. Here is a picture of him.

See him in midle right. In this version of the game i am also firing in the joystick direction. I have to say it makes this game very hard to play, haha! Though it did give me inspiration to put in a twin joystick control for A Shooter, only i would need more downloads to take the time to do it. Or i will do it in a sequel. though this would make the game easier i cold just add a different scoreboard for twin stick player scores.

sounds exciting to me anyway.
Now back to real work again.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

All Games Are Crap part 2

Not content with writing about games being crap just once. I home come back to do it again.

So if it isn't the good or bad in games that allow them to do well, what could it be. Why is it that some games do so well compared to others in the same or similar fields. Well to start with i want to say, advertising. Yup, as simple sounding as that is, it is not simple. In fact there are many aspects to advertising a game. From the posters and artwork you see, to screenshots and carefully leaked ideals of gameplay that the new game brings. some may say that advertising (and marketing) do not play a huge role in the selling of a game. I have to refute that idea right away. Why would a large publisher spend 2 million dollars advertising and promoting a game if it did not need to?

In the end a game must be seen by the potential buyer to actually get them to buy it.

Of course advertising a game that has a big 30 million dollar budget is a nescessity, as seen by the huge budgets i just mentioned. What would the sales be like of Darksiders for example if they had not spent so much on blanket advertising and marketing. Just getting that game to E3 must have cost a fortune, and in theory that is just an industry event (yeah right!).

Of course we have a microcosm in the Xblig area. Though all the devs know that visibility is still the key component in selling games, whether they be bad or not is less relevant. Having 10K downloads and selling just 5% is much better than 2K downloads and selling 20%. Of course i do believ something else...

Quality of presentation and gameplay, including music makes a better conversion rate.

This also includes crap games. It is possible to have a simple game that will do well because of it's presentation. I would offer up a particular Avatar game as evidence, but they have had plenty of press recently. The point is that it looks nice enough, the gameplay is ridiculously simple. Yet their conversion rate is high, and why not.

So what can Xbligs do to get the word out about their game? That is a good question and i have been working very very hard this year to try and get word out. I have failed, but i try. One recent group has apparently resorted to publicising their new application by ridiculing the Xblig community through Kotaku. this appears to be a brilliant move. Unfortuneatly i am not very good at that good cop bad cop and being the bad guy thing.

So far the only answer i have to the visibility is to have an Avatar in the title and game. so i will continue to play with them until i have a good game to put them in. I cannot just put them in for the sake of it, like a number of current Avatar games have.

Well thats all from me, Get a huge budget and maybe it will pay off, i have tried spending, but cannot seem to find the Xblig buyers.

Good luck to everyone else


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All Games Are Crap

Everyone has their oppinion about a game. It doesn't even matter what that game is. Everyone has an opinion, whether it is good, bad or just meh! What is interesting as a designer is looking at all the comments you are given for your own game. Trying hard to acertain what all these opinions mean. Trying hard the whole while to put togther an image of what your game might look like. To different demographics and such.

I have heard so many comments lately about one person not liking this or that about a game. These observations were queued to the fact that the Indie games in question did not do very well. What i find interesting is that if you asked these people to give an opinion on the 60+ dollar AAA titles that they continue to buy, i am very very sure they would say pretty much the same stuff. However these AAA titles did very well thank you, AND they were Not a dollar to buy.

In the end there is only one conclusion, all games have their annoying or bits that are sub standard. However it is a very subjective area and from 20 people you would most likely get 5-10 different opinions, some total opposites to each other.

So are all games crap? Noooo, not by a long shot. But neither are they perfect, there are alsways flaws in them, flaws that cannot be taken out as taking them out would just get anotehr group of people to feel that was now flawed. I guess as a designer there is only one final choice. Stick with what you believe in, and listen by all means. Only, take all the advice and add it up. If it balances out, then you must be doing something right.


Monday, October 18, 2010

UberGeekGames Avatar Wrapper

Having been playing with the Avatar stuff these last several days (i haven't had much time for my own work). I knew i needed to write a good surrounding class to put all the crap in, the stuf that needs to be done regardless, the messy stuff that should be easy and straight forward. But before i could get to that i would need something else.

The default animations for the Avatars are very nice. But apart from allowing a game to play Simon with them, i do not think there are many other uses. so i did a search to see if any kind soul had put out any other anims, namely i wanted a run animation. Well lo and behold Microsoft had an avatar animation pack. It took m a post in the forums to find it, but i did get it from the new app hub in the end. This pack supplies a bunch of stuff and a run anim is one of them, woohoo!

This however opened up a can of worms. Ya see, to get custom animations into the Xbox (yes, these new ones are counted as custom, cos they are not built in). ya have to go through some severe pain. Namely you have to have a content importer, and of course this means work, cos well. why would anyone wan tto put this into a real nice tidy simple to use wrapper? I mean, why bother. I know i should not complain, but it seems to be that they did the work to make this system, and then just stopped short on a few things that would make it so much tidier and nicer for new and old developers.

Anyway, this casued me some consternation and i figured i would not bother, until i also decided to search for an Avatar animation class, feeling like maybe someone had already done some of this work. And woah, there it was. Lying in wait for me at UberGeekGames was an avatar wrapper, and also some extra goodness.

The extra was in the form of they had made it so on the PC there were the bones of the Avatar displayed. This is big, as Avatars cannot actually be rendered on the PC, and as most Xblig devs do a high percentage of their work on the PC (like me), this should prove a real beneift. BONUS!!!

I have now integrated the wrapper class into my test application, with much trouble over the oddites of having to have two separate libs for the skinnedModel class. Once i was over these issues i can see the dudes rotating on my Xbox screen. funnily enough getting it working on the PC was real fast.

Thanks very much UGG, you folks rock, along with the other people that helped you give this to the community.

You can check out their Blog here.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

My partner in pain is back

Yup, it is true. My newly married aprtner in pain and of course work buddy is back from Vegas. Now a married man and ready to help me through the data mining i have to do for my current conversion at work.

He is a top lad and as i expected having someone else look at my code would reveal the bits i had been missing, and this held true and he pounded out the thing that i had missed. Of course i could be sad i didn;t notice it, but i am not. I am actually rather happy for a couple of reasons. Number 1 is that i now don't have to keep banging my head against that wall. Number 2 is that he came back after a week of getting married and was very quickly productive. This is a great feeling i'll bet.

Now i expect we can manhandle the data and the only major issue we should face will be the parallel workflow that we really need to achieve asap.

So the moral is, you can find excuses to be sad, but when something good happens. Try to see it that way.


Friday, October 15, 2010

I know i shouldn't

But i could not help myself.

I had to start playing with rendering Avatars. This was going extremely well and i had no issues watching them dance around my screen and generally frolic around in their 3d world.

Then i decided i should stick them in my Ortho Viewport, so i can use them in a more 2d way. Then i started to have issues. I have spent more than 1.5 hours on this, yet it should be so simple. I have given up for the night, but i just saw a tweet from a friend called Mikebmcl(twitter name), saying he had recently done this. Woot! He is gonna find me some code it seems.

Isn't it wonderful that we cna get help in this way, and at this time of night. I loves my tweeple. Maybe i am getting payback after giving a ride to a fella hitching a ride into Simi valley. Wowza if so, cos that pay it forward stuff worked Quick!

G'night everyone

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some web sites make me feel good

Here is a web site that decided to offer  something that everyone with an Xbox should be interested in.

I have to say i am very proud to be on that list.

LIST of Xblig Worth Checking out.

Apart from that i have to also mention that my job is currently kicking my Butt. I am working extremely hard trying to reverse engineer some combo binary data packets and then grab the vert data that is in them. I am even having trouble finding vert dtaa at all, never mind extracting it correctly. Now these are binaries created for a PS2 game, but geez, i usually handle this stuff no problem. Instead i feel weak and annoyed.

I certainly hope tomorrow goes better, as two weeks working on deciphering this is getting real old, fast!


In Game Instructions are under rated

I know nobody really reads in game instructions and i am no exception of course. I just go for it when i get a new game. Usually games are pretty easy to pick up these days. However to really master a game you might have to go deeper into the game knowledge base and learn some useful tips and tricks. Hell, ya can learn some more buttons you had no idea what they did etc.

So lets take A Shooter. I took a while to put these instructions together and was quite proud of all they said. But as the weeks have passed since the game went live, i have come to realise there is an error in my ways. I am missing vital bits of information and if a player wants to know them, he will somehow have to find his way to this blog most likely. That is just not optimal.

Here are a few examples just to give ya more of an idea of what i am talking about.
1. Going for a high score in the game. In easy mode you can earn approximately 2.1Million by completing the game from the start. for normal it is about 2.5million and then 2.8million and finally for hardest mode 3.1million. this information would have been invaluable for people trying to win my top score competitions.
2. Practicing a level you just failed on is the fastest way to learn a new level or Boss and progress through the game.

So although those examples are quite different to each other. They are both really important. I chose those two because they are so different.

Any time anyone gives you feedback about your game. Any question at all, you should note down the possibility that you need to add it into the in game instructions. Don't be lazy, just do it, and you will be rewarded with understanding of the game and therefore more likely to get good word of mouth.

good luck

Monday, October 11, 2010

Top Score Competition Post Mortem

My main 3 Event competition is now over. Sunday night was it's last hurrah. In the wake of this ending i am going to try and do SorceryGames first Post Mortem, and it will be based on the competition i was running.

Although a lot of this stuff might cross over into the actual games post morten, i want to get this part out first, as best i am able.

What went right...
Got organized before the game went live. A lot of stuff gets left on the shelf when developing games. Not just ideas but also other useful materials for marketiing and such. I knew quite early on that i wanted to run competitions once the game was ready. I did not know quite what to run at that time. But i made it a priority to keep writing down ideas before the game was live. This really showed in the fact i had rule ideas before i needed them.
High Score Sharing was introduced to the project development. This was a real boost to the game, as i grew up playing arcade games in actual arcades. Racking up a top score and seeing it there along with my initials the next weekend was a great feeling. Though with todays leaderboards most people experience a version of this more readily. With the development of this score sharing i was able to set my initial competition goals for the high score.
Knowing what is going on out there is also paramount to being able to create new competition ideas. With the sharing scores i could see people playing my game and make some quick adjustments for competition ideas etc. That was how the first person to score on my leaderboard was created. I just got so excited to see the first shared score. Now if that had been multiple scores at once it would have been more interesting. I shall also use that sharing feature to give out a prize for the first person to complete the last level of A Shooter. Something i find very exciting.
The Press release was a big hit, it went everywhere and a lot of sites listed the fact there was a competition. A lot of the Indie sites i know and love also did special posts to help get the word out that there were prizes to be won in this game.
Life is about Stories. Ones you can tell your friends or wife or children. I was very blessed when the competitions second event produced a real fight for the top of the leaderboard between two brothers from Germany. I got to follow this unfolding rivalry live, even though i am 9 thousand miles away. I of course already wrote about this particular story. It was exciting and i am not sure that it would have been so epic if there were not a competition involved.
There was more interest in reviewing A Shooter than i have recieved for all my other games combined. Some quite large web sites actually asked for review copies and press packs. This was amazing and i put that down to the fact i was willing to run competitions based on my 1 dollar game. This pleased me a lot and felt like a real boon provided by the competition.

What went wrong...
Although i was organized before the game went live, there is no actual control of when a game goes live. Thanks have to go to a lot of my Peers who really helped the game come out about the time i needed it too (Thanks you Xblig Peers, you rock!). So organizing a competition was fraught with danger, what if i failed reveiw for example. The desire to have a competition running when the game goes live had risks for sure, but it also added  alot of time to development. I placed A Shooter into a lot of playtest sessions and did a ridiculous amount of testing for the stuff that fails games.
High Score Sharing is wonderful and i started with JWattes high score sharing component (much like everyone else). This however turned out to not really suit to my needs. It has some issues like garbage collection and to be honest was a lot more than i needed (version 2 is out now btw). I already had a high score class written. I just needed something to interface with that and then share scores. So i took it upon myself to rewrite the component, and now it isn't even a component, and i am not sure how much original code there really is. It is however pretty solid and there are no hiccups when sharing. So i can share while people play the game. However all this took a long time to rewrite and test. I also had to buy a second account so i could connect two xboxes together to truly test my sharing code (i borrowed a second Xbox off my friend). The live account and new cco membership were real money.
Knowing what is going is a great thing, only... It can also tell you when nothing is apprently going off. there are times when my game over the first weekend had not a single highscore shared with it. This was ultimately a very depressing time. Whenever an hour went by without a connection i felt more down about the release. This was more unpleasant than not actually knowing.
Although the Press release went everywhere, it was also late. I never checked with my press release guy and he was on vacation when the press release needed to go out. DOH! that was stupid on my part and so the release came out after the weekend and not on the friday (again delayed dated releases for Xblig would be good!). So i missed the best opportunity, but still it wasn't awful. The worst fact of the press release is my games name. It is very hard to find a press release for 'a Shooter' as any first person game released in the last 10 years has that combination of letters in their own press release. So it is actually hard to find mine.
Life is about Stories and as you know i had 1 epic one last weekend. However since then and before then there has not really been any stories, except maybe between my artist and myself. I should really type that one up at some point soon. So although the one i have is great, i have only one story from my high score events.
Although there was more interest in reviewing by the larger sites, not one of those larger sites that asked for a press pack and review copy actually seem to have printed a review. All the friendly Xblig covering sites did a bang up job and i am very pleased to be a part of their community (i do not care if the review is good or bad, everyone has their opinion). However asking for that kind of information from me and then just not doing anything with it bothers me and makes me feel taken for granted.
*edit* Advertising in Game is not allowed on the Xblig games. It is an imediate fail. So i was not allowed to advertise my competitions directly to those people that had taken the time to download the trial version. I would have hoped that this knowledge would have had two effects. Making a better conversion rate and also allowing this Xbox players to tell others that one of the Xbligs had a competition running. I truly believe thios would have helped my conversion rate by about another 50% and also my downloads by about 25%.
Although i got a lot of press telling people that i had this competition running. I am ultimately not sure it was worth it. I had quite the time investment and commitment creating the background functionality and setup to handle running this competition. Each prize cost me money along with time. Money that so far i have not gotten back. Now of course i do not know if my game would have done worse download wise if i had not got this competition running. Though at this point i do not know how it could have been worse, as it now stands as my lowest downloaded game in its first two weeks. It appears from where i sit that even with all the coverage i feel i got about this competition, I just did not reach the Xbox players themselves. Posting on Facebook, Twitter and various Xbox fan forums did not seem to significantly effect downloads.
If people had downloaded it and just didn't like my game, then fine, don't spend ya dollar. But it hasn't been that way with a 20% conversion rate and one that is getting higher each day.

Final thoughts...
I do not believe i will be running more competitions on future games unless i find a way to get the actual Xbox owners to know about it. I believe they are a great idea, but not worth the investment till i can reach those potential buyers.

Thanks for reading. I hope this give other devs out there some ideas to do better than me. Good luck.

Da Voodoochief

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Shooter Competiton Event #3 Winner

In a great turn of events, Lohen has gone and posted a higher score than anyone else this week. Congratulations. Even outdoing his brother. That is such a glorious thing. Below is the hallowed winner picture :)

He managed to get himself onto a completely new level to pound that score out. His skill is now evolved and I wonder if completion is possible. Certainly i believe the brothers can complet the game together. However multiplayer scores are not shared.

There will be a posrt tomorrow about the competitions and information relating to its success.

Thank you everyone for your interest in this game.

A Shooter sunday Competition Event #3

Yes sunday night at 9pm pst it will be time to annouce another winner.

I see several people playing up the leaderboard near the top. Who will win?

I know this is a small post for today, but i am ill and after Indiecade i am also really tired.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pellmell stuff

In last nights post to this Blog i mentioned that i was working on Pellmell. Well just to remind ya, here is the short list of stuff to do.

1. Add Auto-fire and double the refresh of the bullets
This is now done and makes the game much more of a shooter, only it makes the first 20 or so levels way easier than the original design. I am not sure if this is ok or not. Is it so bad that people can easily play through a whole bunch of levels. I guess it is aok if they are enjoying themselves. for myself though, there needs to be some level of challenge. Needs more wowork.

2. Research how many levels to fix.
This one is about 20 levels. research shows they are now too easy. Even the next 6 or so after this provide little challenge, but at least some. I am not sure what to do. The first version of this game took so many hours to balance. Changing this seems a bit drastic right now. Needs more work.

3. Reduce the size of the ccgame file.
Done, now at 19MB and counting back up as i improve and add stuff.

So now i need to find a new challenge in those first 20 levels. I am not sure i can change my initial game vision that much. It might make it a completely different game.

Tomorrow i go to Indiecade so long as i am well enough. You can meet me at the Sony booth, Home section. I would love to meet anyone that follows my blog etc. And it's ok, we don't have to just talk about Home.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pellmell needs some loving

Taking what i have learn't over the last year or so and applying that knowledge to Pellmell is my current undertaking. I love the basic premise for my game. I love what i did with all the extra effects and transitions etc. But there are a few obvious shortcomings i wish to address.

So players found it annoying that they kept running out of bullets. Well the game was supposed to be a choice between shooting now or later and dodging now or later. By balancing the two ideas, one can achieve harmony with the game. However this is not wanted. Soo the game will change slightly. It will become more shooter oriented.
* Add Auto-fire and double the refresh of the bullets

Players have complained they can simply push their dude to the right and really run Pellmell down the level. Yes they take hits, but they finish the level. Where i bestow upon them a huge health boost. So nullifying the damage they took running there. This is a tough one, as the levels are balanced with the introduction of new enemies as you get through the levels. Bringing in new enemies into something like the 40th level (off the top of my head). So whatever i do, i cannot make those later levels (where you cannot possibly just run down the level and make it) harder than they are. So i need to fixup the first 20 or so levels.
* Research how many levels to fix. Maybe only refresh you life at the end of the level if it below a certain amount, or maybe i start off giving you nothing and then each level up the amount of health i give back.

Price point is too high? Well i haven't really had any complaints about this. But i would hope that if i made the price point only 1 dollar it get a few more downloads (currently about 20 a month).
* Reduce the size of the ccgame file. This is now easier due to better handling of assets etc.

55MB, not sure i have the space mate. Ok, so it was a bit large, but it has a lot of music in the game. Now with the newer Xact i can compress that way down. YAY!
* Already reduced the ccgame to 19MB, a much more appealing size.

I am not sure what else to do to the game at this point. I will examine some reviews and any feedback i missed in the previous playtests and reviews. So after working on it for 2 hours, it is time to say.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A shooter Update Now on Xbox

YAY! Thanks have to go to my Peers who got this minor update through in about 4 days or so.

Now there are a number of minor tweaks and fixes, the most obvious one being shooting the Purple Asteroid to retrieve your powerup from inside it. I hope this makes the frist several levels much more enjoyable for new players.

don't forget about the competition ending this Sunday evening, and you can check out my videos for playthru's of both level 5 and 9. although watching them will teach you how to also play the lower levels.

Good luck

Da Voodoochief

A Shooter Level 5 Playthru Video

I hope this helps those people that might be having issues on Level 5. Good luck and if ya practice, the kills and skills will come.

Good night.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Next ?

Is anything next? at least for my lovely Xblig?

At the moment i think not. With only 2000 downloads it seems very few are interested in what i do. I will however do a post mortem as soon as i can. detailing decisions i made for the game that have ultimately stunted its spread.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Competition Event #2 Winner

Here is what i saw at 9pm pst tonight on my xbox.

A very definitive win for sure. Placed directly below my own new score and my artists score. I am very pleased to see someone win who has improved on last weeks score. This makes me happy people are improving at the game.

Well after all my internet and virus problems this weekend i have to call it a night. I look forward to sending off a T-shirt to Germany no less.

Don't forget that next weeks competition is in a wekks time.

Good luck and please pass on the competition info to anyone you know with an Xbox360.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Win - Competition Event #2

Can you take the Highest score for the Day on A Shooter?

Today at 9pm pst I will be declaring the winner for the second prize giveaway. Get your copy of the game Here. Read up on the competition instructions Here.

Then get practising and see if you can knock off the current top place person.
Please note Terminhater, Voodoochief and Gontyanbaby are not eligible for this weeks competition.

Below is the current status of my Global High Score Table. as you will see i have low lighted ineligble players. This mean that Lohengriehn is currently ahead.

Good luck to all those people playing for the win.

Please remember the score must be shared and appear on Voodoochiefs Xbox. To that end, it will be left on acquiring scores all day.

Da voodoochief

Bonus:  And just to help get someone else into the mix, here is a code giveaway. DVBWQ-P4M7P-GY99V-CFHTD-HMC8Y