Friday, April 30, 2010

A Shooter feedback #3

Yup, another nice Playtester has spent some time testing out my game in XBLIG land. I am starting to feel more pressure to do more myself and stop with the annoying global high scores coding. bah!

Here is what they wrote:-

1. Graphics are definitely the thing holding the game back currently, though looks like you've got some changes lined up to improve that? Mainly bullet sprites are ugly, could also use more visual indicator when hitting enemy ships, and ships wings tilting when they move "vertically" would add a lot.
2. The limited range of the player's bullets felt off to me. I felt that I should be able to sit at the back of the screen and hit enemies/bosses at the other side of the screen, however I was forced to move closer to hit them. This may be an intended game design choice though.
3. When the trial time period is over, if you select to buy the game, after purchasing the game it resets to the main menu, losing my progress. Would be nice if I could keep playing from where I was after purchasing, though isn't a necessity since it would only be a one time inconvenience.
4. It may just be me, but I could not figure out what to do with bombs. I expected them to damage all ships in my vicinity, but I saw the bomb graphic come up and nothing seemed to happen to the enemy ships. Is there something special I need to do with bombs?
5. Overall the first few levels felt about right challenge wise for my first few times through. Could use some power-ups for the player's gun in those first few levels to make them more interesting. Solid game at the moment though, no bugs/crashes to report.

Lets see what i wrote in reply. I will also add some commentary in a different color.

1. Yup, Graphics suck. I know. I am so glad they are being worked on now, I feel like the graphics i have in their are so old and tired. They just wanna get renewed. A lot of them will be in the next version. (Although i have written this in one form or another each time i get feedback. The fact it is still being raised means i should be calm and reply to each querry or comment like it is the first. simply because it is the first for this Playtester)
2. The range of the bullets is a direct gameplay element, it make syou have to go into danger to make the enemeies less dangerous (by killing them). This gets more lenient with the firepower upgrades as you progress simply because there is more on the screen and you will need more room to maneouver etc. I hope this makes sense. (Explaining my design choices is aweseom and always gets me excited. This time i chose a fairly short explanation, But i have written a lot on this subject in previous posts, so onwards)
3. Yeah, The game resets currently. I believe that was an oversight by me. In my previous titles I allow you to continue, I see no reason for me not to alter and fix this. Even if it is once. I do not want to start the player who just bought my game off with an , Oh noes! They might feel like it was a bad choice and not recommend it to others. (This is a good find. One i was particular about in previous games. although it happens once. It could make the difference in the persons mind. someone who has bought your game could be it's greatest ambassador, so make em happy!)
4. The bombs are standard smart bombs (smart enough to only effect enemy firepower ??), They only effect enemy bullets and not the enemy ships. Though one type of smart bomb does indeed change the enemy bullets into your own bullets and fires them away from you, possibly hitting enemies along the way. (Not sure what he expected, but it gave me another chance to talk about an aspect of my gameplay, woohoo)
Your final comment was interesting. Did you find the powerups for your ship? there is one on each level in 1 and 2 player modes, and 2 in 3 and 4 player modes. It sounds like maybe you did not, as the first upgrade is to Fire faster and with more range. The second levels powerup will add some three way fire to you ship. (When the new graphics go in, I am hopeful that this will be a more obvious powerup delivery system. This note did me take notice that it is at the moment not obvious enough. A Good find, though not a bug, could cost me sales!)

There ya have it. Excellent feedback and gave me lots to say.


XBLIG and PS3 Home and Pax10

Woah, a Full day at the MRI clinic this afternoon. They had to perform two scans of my elbow as each scan could not quite get the whole of my elbow in it. They are about 40 Minutes long each, adn my arm was in an awkward and painful positon for both scans. I feel surprised I amanged to last through it, it was rather painful. Of course it would have been easy if my arm could straighten, but then I would not have to go if that was the case :S Catch 22 situation.

So I'll just try hard to be brief and summarise where I am on the above title topics....

I haven't had chance yet to carry on with my Global High Scores code. I reckon I will go ahead and buy the second CC premium membership and at least remove that from problems list. If it saves me an hour then it will be worth it.

I have uploaded the latest Prizes and scenes today The Boss helped and Now all 210 items are uploaded and in the Sandbox, they have also been pushed to QA for I hope final testing. Live date is now only a week away. sure Hope it all passes. To be honest it has been fun fixing some of the bugs and changing a few features these past few days. Wish me luck!

Now this is new news today. Checkout the minor annoucnement on their page Here. Pretty cool, but what does this have to do with me and Sorcerygames? Well, should I, or shouldn't I ? If i go with it and they don't care for my game, it will not be a bad thing. I will be in the same position I am now, having a hard time marketing my games. If however they select it, my world could change. It could launch me onto so much more. This Pax10 comp is also interesting as they mention their main judging criteria is fun and gameplay. Main info Here. The game A Shooter is all about Gamplay. I can add to the fun factor with a number of mods. some of them are more time consuming, but could be worth it for this competition. Ahh, the mind boggles. I am gonna go dream about it haha!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Shooter Feedback #3

yeah, Another soul has deigned to test my game. Here is what they wrote.

1. Just had a play through and I couldn't find any fail issues.

2. Really great look and feel.
3. One thing I noticed is that my score wasn't updating on the global high scores table, but looking at your comments, you are working on that.
4. Also a suggestion about the high scores - I prefer it if there isn't multiple scores for the same gamer in the table, just the gamers highest ever score.
5. Hope this helps. Drop me a line when you need help testing the glocal scores transfer.

Wonderful eh. Usually I dissect each post and analyse and give my opinion. Tonight is no different.
1. This is always good to hear. It means they tested for Fail reasons like MU pulling and screen safe etc. No fails = No more time wasted on that crap. More time for making the game better.
2. What a nice thing to say. It is alwsy a great thing to get complimients, especially releveant ones. Remember they don't have to say these things. so appreciate them, then add more to the game. this person actually seems to have noticed that I went for a feel to this game. I call it gameplay.
3. Yup, my Global scores are a broken work in progress. Tennis took up my night, so I never got to work on it some more. Again, they show they read my comments. Oh comments, i haven't mentioned them before eh. Each time you put a game into playtest you can add notes that get posted into the forums. This is a VALUABLE thing to do. Tell people what has changed. Tell them what you would really like tested or comments on. Use this to your advantage. A lot of games in playtest are not doing this. And it means their games suffers from less playtesting by Peers and also less focused comments. I have seen the Devs write that they didn't need comments on the saving system or the graphics after a playtester has taken time to write down comments for them. Idiots!
4. This is one i always feel for. But i have a plan. Local scores will record all your scores. The global scores will only record your highest. This should be a great thing for everyone to see their place.
5. Yes, it all helps. I do not care how small the feedback or how large. It all helps make a better product. It is also nice that this developer has offered his services for me to test with. That is a real nice person who seems to understand the difficulties associated with this particular game component.

And that's it for tonight. It has been a hella busy day for me, and tomorrow I will write about the busy day working on the PS3 stuff.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Global High Score Component issues

After my rant last night, I thought I should bring it back down to what I am doing and not what other people are not doing. See what I did there ?

Anyway, I got the Highscore component into the game real fast. then once it compiled I called it to set it up etc. all went well, and fast! That was last night.

Tonight I am a little baffled. I thought I had to sign up for two Creator accounts to do some network testing. After many issues I found that I was not handling a local profile that had no online permissions. Ok, should be easy enough. so I set about creating another persona for me to test with. Now just so's ya know. I have two PC next to each other, as well as the Xbox. I figured I could just test between the Two PCs. Well NOOOOOOooo you cannot. Unless you have a live account. So i got one. Then i paid the money and made it golden and shiny. Still no love. It appeared I was now required to make the new Gold account a CC or creators premium account.

While I was studying this though I found a couple of posts in the XNA forums (great place for information or to help others out ya know!) These posts said I could use a Local profile on the PC. Woohoo! Cha-ching I am gonna save some money! Yeaaahhhaw!

Then about 40 minutes of playing with code and otions etc later, i am baffled. I cannot get the Xbox and PC to see each other through the systemlink. The Xbox thread seems to give up on looking for people to join shortly after it starts. Now this is not my code, so is still a little hard to work with. But it has been used in a number of games already. Why does it not work for me. And while we are at it, I do not understand how these machines can ever get to see each otehr anyway. The code requires a Host and a finder. Then when matched you can share your scores. However From what I have seen of the code and the print statements, neirther machine ever goes into Host mode. Hmmm, That could be an issue, but could be one of many.

At this point I might just cough up the money to have my two PCs connect to each other. But I don't know. I would rather buy another piece of music for the game tbh.

If anyone has any suggestions or Helpful advice. I would love to hear some. I have of course posted in the forums where otehr people have said that they are having success with this.

So it is with heavy sadness that I now go to Bed.

Sleep well y'all, I am sure I won't with my mind swimming with network connectivity possibilities.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Why not finish your Game eh?

Any idea what that title means ?

Any idea to whom i am talking ?

Well now. It seems i have failed a few games lately that still went through to the Live list, and they are now available on the Xbox in the XBLIG section. I am a Peer Reviewer, it is one of my jobs to be a reviewer and makes me a better community member. Sometimes I love the job, sometimes I find it frustrating. These last two games are on the frustrating side of things for me. Why am I frustrated with them I hear ya ask. Well, you are in luck as i am gonna tell ya.

Number #1.. I like these games. I would like to buy them one day when they are finished and go live. Hey wait a minute.. did i not already mention they had gone live and were therefore available to buy? why yes I did.

Number #2.. I do not buy unfinished games. I have written so many games over my career I believe i know when one is finished. This detail can be awkward, as some people would point out i am sure that a game is Never truly finished, it just has run it's course, or got to a good stopping point. Though i agree with these sentiments in principal, you really can tell when a game is finished and that means ready for selling.

Let me talk about the latest game that gets me frustrated. It is a nicely put together piece of software. The gameplay is solid. The graphics are good. The menus are even done with a little style. So what is the problem? Well it is one of completness. And this game is just not complete. Below I will list my playtest report to the Devs (ok, i thought the game was in playtest when in fact it was in review).

Ok, so first off, I thought this was a Playtest i was doing, so I wrote some notes up.. I have written them, so figured I might as well put them here in this thread anyhoo.
1. Hmm - The title music is very common music is it not ? And does it really say tennis? sounds like a gameshow. (personal preference obviously)
2. Bad - Sometimes the camera would move upwards and I would see a grey screen, I believe the ball may have been lobbed incredibly high.
3. Bad - sometimes the players ran to the net and stopped there for quite some time. Again i believe the ball was somewhere in the stratosphere
4. Good - nice reactions from the players after winning or losing etc
5. Bad - 40-40 is NOT freakin 40-40, it is DUECE! This will aggravate ALL tennis players no end (oh yeah, i am one!)
6. Bad - The racquet graphic has issues. a, it looks like a Wii tennis controller. b, it has missing polys near it's handle
7. Hmm - Audience Avatars are awesome, but they do not ever do anything. No yay, or clap. Seems very sterile
8. Hmm - When players change court (though it is change ends really), they move to each other and then pause there, I think you should cut before they stop moving.
9. Bad - No options. For the music and SFX volumes specifically.
10. GREAT - I loved the control. Though it was hard to figure out how to pass my opponent, they all seemed to move so well :S

So if you have read the 10 points I listed you will see that none of this points are Big. Not really. Well ok, two players could be real Big, but I never mentioned that above did I? haha. Oh wait back to topic.. So if none of the items missing from this game are so devastating to write. Why not do them. why not clean up that transition timing on the change of Ends ? Why not change the text so it Says 'Change Ends' and not 'Change courts'. C'mon i am not asking for much really. This product must have taken at least 6 months to write, and now you are going to push it out there with a few more days of work left unfinished.  WHY!?? I ASK WHY??

Rant Time!

This then is what ticks me Right Off. So many Devs on the XBLIG platform are putting out their 'Games', their pride and joy unfinished. They want it out, 'Oh c'mon it's close enough' Let's make some money sooner!. Well guess what, I doubt that your game will do so well without those last precious days of coding and touchups. People can tell when something has had that care taken on it. (Not that they always get downloaded). Most of the games that have a good Sell Thru (this is a good metric, not download numbers), have these little things tidied up. Each game has different things, but also most games have the same little things. Like sfx when pressing buttons, or fade transitions when apropriate etc.

So I am going to Appeal to the XBLIG Devs. Please publish your game after you have tidied them up and finished them. It will make the channel much more appealing and will draw a larger crowd. And i NEVER ever wanna hear some one say ever again that 'Oh sales don't matter, i just wanted to get it out, i wasn't meaning to sell it.'. Well this channel is for sale, If ya don't wanna sell it. Then publish on the PC!!

Ok, that is enough Ranting for tonight.


Global High Scores Required now

I have been in Debate about this subject with one of my good friends. The question comes down to 'Is it worth the effort to put in Global High Scores?'

This is indeed an interesting question. One i have thought about a lot. People have had real trouble with this stuff. To be honest it is a pain in the butt. However... I love knowing just how good I am at an Arcade style game. That is where I come from. I loved having the top score or Scores on the arcade machines at my local arcades. I worked hard for that achievement. It means much more to me today than the achievements we can all get in WOW or on the Xbox etc.

So the work IS worth it in my mind. I of course do not know exactly how much work it is. J.Watte has produced a nice component for the use of XBLIG folks. Very very nice of him i have to say. Though i do not like components. They like to work in a nice rigid way.. This is the issue I face. I was looking over the high score component and deciding to rip out all the network connectivity code and just put the rest of the swapping code in myself. This I am sure I can do. However it looked to be a nasty and large job. what to do eh ?  I was getting frustrated.

Then it HIT me!
I would just write a nice simple transfer function. This function would translate my highscore code to the one that the Global High Score table uses, and back again the other way. I reckon this is brilliant and will allow me to keep my custom tables, but still use the generic one that J.Watte has written. (have i mentioned he Rocks?).

So that is my plan. I will write more when I finally get to attack it this week.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

DrMistry Postmortems Blazin Balls for XBLIG

A good chap, DrMistry is dedicated to creating good games. He has recently released another title onto the Xbox, and no doubt you have downloaded and played it. It is a new direction for him, as his last game was such an epic. And unfortunately an Epic fail according to him. This time he decided to make some different decisions and go in this new direction. He did a postmortem on his site which i link below. I am not sure I really like the format, but he always has something interesting to say. Next time he does a postmortem I hope for the Good, Bad, Ok approach. Till then, enjoy his Postmortem

Blazin Balls Postmortem


Could this be the A Shooter Art style ?

I know what you are thinking. That it would be a travesty to remove my georgous programmer graphics from the game. The cahrm the loveliness they have etc. But there comes a time, when one must think of the game.

Anyway, Here is a video excerpt from the game using some graphics that me mate Terry has had in his posession now for many a year. I put them into the game in various places. Not that i did a good job, and some of the sprites are being colored still by me. The big red spaceship looks much better in it's natural colors etc.

Other things to note in the video are...
1. My changes to the game via the Feedback from Peer Playtest.
 1a. High score in game
 1b. The popup help at the start
 1c. The more screen safe placement of text.

On with the show

Hope ya liked the video.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Visual Studio and Xact Compression Issue Workaround

Are you having issues with Visual Studio Freezing or Hanging when building your project. Caused by the fact you changed your Xact project to use XWMA compression? I did and it has caused me a number of issues, namely, I can use a big audio wavbank file (uncompressed), or I can build them and copy them to their destinations etc and stop the XactBld3.exe file with the windows Task manager.

Well it was time to put this thing to bed. My games when published have been way too large. Annoyingly large in my opinion. So I decided to look and see if anyone had a fix for this yet. I first ran into the problem more than 6 months ago i believe. What follows is a workaround to deal with this issue. And now my game is about a 4th of the size it was!

Steps i took to work around the Xact Compression in VS problem...
Important Fact:-
My Xact file will create my sound files all in the same directory it is in. I will use this to my advantage as Xact does not have a problem exporting the files locally. It is Only the VS integration that is broken.

1. I removed my Xact file from the project.
2. I added the XGS, XSB and XWB files into the content\audio folder (this was where my Xact file once resided.
3. You must then alter the 'Properties\Build Action' on all three of these files and select 'None'. Or you will get compile errors on these assets.
4. You then have to alter the 'Properties\Copy to Output directory' and set it to 'Copy if newer' (if you do not do this step, if you publish the game it will not copy your audio files.
5. I then created a Batch file to do the donkeywork for me (the copying). This was so much easier than trying to get VS or Xact to do the right thing with all the files. Believe me when i tell ya that i tried :S Following this is an example batch file.

rem windows version to Release and Debug
copy soundbank.xsb ..\..\bin\x86\Release\content\audio\soundbank.xsb /Y
copy ashooter.xgs ..\..\bin\x86\Release\content\audio\ashooter.xgs /Y
copy wavbank.xwb ..\..\bin\x86\Release\content\audio\wavbank.xwb /Y

copy soundbank.xsb ..\..\bin\x86\Debug\content\audio\soundbank.xsb /Y
copy ashooter.xgs ..\..\bin\x86\Debug\content\audio\ashooter.xgs /Y
copy wavbank.xwb ..\..\bin\x86\Debug\content\audio\wavbank.xwb /Y

rem xbox
copy xbox\ashooter.xgs "..\..\bin\xbox 360\Release\content\audio\ashooter.xgs" /Y
copy xbox\soundbank.xsb "..\..\bin\xbox 360\Release\content\audio\soundbank.xsb" /Y
copy xbox\wavbank.xwb "..\..\bin\xbox 360\Release\content\audio\wavbank.xwb" /Y

copy xbox\ashooter.xgs "..\..\bin\xbox 360\Debug\content\audio\ashooter.xgs" /Y
copy xbox\soundbank.xsb "..\..\bin\xbox 360\Debug\content\audio\soundbank.xsb" /Y
copy xbox\wavbank.xwb "..\..\bin\xbox 360\Debug\content\audio\wavbank.xwb" /Y
As you can see the batch file is very simple. all it does is copy the local files to the bin directories for both the Xbox and PC. You can have these things anywhere which is nice.

There might be a more pleasant workaround, i am not sure. I always export what i alter in Xact, so adding a single extra step when I am happy with the alterations is easy enough. Double clicking the batch file ain't no big thing. Yet, I would like it to be more automatic, so later I believe I will add this batch file to the pre-build steps of my project.

I hope this writeup helps other people stuck on this annoying bug.

If anyone has a better solution I would love to hear it, as i searched the web and found more annoying and cumbersome ways to fix this. Extra projects and the like.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Kris Did a Postmortem for 'Abduction Action'

Here is a postmortem that Kris tweeted about earlier today. I am writing it up here as Devs need to read this stuff. I have been around in this industry for longer than a lot of people have been alive :|  So i think i know what i am talking about!

Abduction Action

Go there, read it. If you learn just one thing from what he wrote it could save you days or weeks. Postmortems rock!

Have a great day.

A shooter Mods and Playstation Home update

I have been quite busy today, but it looks like everything is coming together. I am quite happy. Well ok, i am quite miserable and angry to be honest. I know i shouldn't, but i cannot seem to help myself. Firstly let me tell you all the good news.

The Midway for PS3Home,
We are still in Test with Sony and it appears all is going well since our last bug fixing update over the last weekend. The biggest bug we faced (and a show stopper) appears to be fixed, and I sure hope it is. I removed 4 lines of code to fix that bug, mwuhahhaa! I love cutting code to fix bugs. It's awesome.

A Shooter,
I am sure you are all well read up on this baby after my last few major posts. Anyway I have figured out what to do with the Health and new players issue. I have come up with an attached heads up help box that tells you that the bubble in the middle of your ship is your health. I think it is quite brilliant myself, well take a look and tell me what ya think ?
The arrow points at the Heart in your ship.
You might also notice that it shows the progression of your health.. Till you are dead. Woohoo! i Love it. Now it only appears next to your ship when you start level one, and only for about 4 seconds till it fades away.  I think it works and is something that i might do in future games as a way of training people. With that change i have done all my changes now relative to the second fedback.
currently i am working on the music. I have all the pieces and am going to put them in the game right now, as i type this they are being uploaded to my SVN server in the sky :)  I have also rebalanced a bunch of levels tonight. I really wish i didn't have right arm problems. I could shoot for longer then.

My frustration and annoyance with the day goes to...
I Blame Facebook. It should be called something else if ya ask me. I currently hate Facebook. I cannot seem to get what i want out of it at all. It seems completely moronic when you are not doing a personal page. So i will fight on. But i really KNOW that i need a facebook page. That way people will get to see my Blog and possibly some other stuff i might put on there. It is most important from a connecting point of view. It could connect me with thousands of potential Xbox owners, and maybe i can bring them into have a lok around Xblig.

Well G'night. More crap with Facebook tomorrow i am sure. BAH!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Second Feedback post for 'A Shooter'

Wow, I am so surprised I have already gotten a second feedback post. Only hours after reposting the game up after my alterations in response to the first post. Last time I used the Playtest I got virtually no input for a whole week. So life is GOOD.

Here is what my Peer said
  SDTV offsets supported for in game scores and HUD."

1. Not sure if I am missing something, but I do not see any way to change the offsets. On my 36" HDTV the player #0 is cut off at the top of the screen. The Stage: 1 is outside of the recommended safezone of 80% of the screen as well. You have a lot of realestate to work with... it wouldn't hinder anything to move the upper left down and to the right so the text starts at 128x 72y and the lower right text above 648y (those values are for 1280x720)

2. Do I have a life count? I don't see anything to indicate that I do. I blink red after getting hit. Looks like 3 hits and then I die completely, but it's definately not clear if the next shot is going to kill me or not.

3. Would like to be able to change the options from the pause screen without having to end my game to do so (ie to change rumble, change the control scheme, etc)

4. Would like to know that I got a highscore... I end up having to check the highscore table to see if I got the highscore or not when the game is over... and then I have to remember what my score was to see if I beat my last highscore.

5. Would like it if the collected powerups had a higher res, they seem a little jagged... (for example the apple) completely pixelized would be cool or just a higher resolution.

6. Nice variety in enemies and bosses as you progress through the stages (I mean the bosses have the same model but each have a different pattern which is cool).

7. Aside from the title safe issues... I did not encounter any other issues. Yanking out the memory unit, signing out and in of a profile, trying to purchase the game using a guest profile are all handled.

8. Movement of the ship feels a little sluggish, but I can live with that. I tried the game on easy and medium and on stage 6 there doesn't appear to be any difference (do you get more lives or something?)

9. overall a good Shooter. ( I do feel I have died cheaply a few times after using the smart bomb and then running into one of the bullets immediately after, but since I can start back on a stage after losing I can live with that. It seems it only happens if I move the ship to the left so that it goes off screen after using the smart bomb.)
Ok, So he was a busy bee and wrote a number of things. I will address each one in turn as I did in the Forum thread, only I will add more of the thought process behind each comment.
1. I have it detect 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio and adjust the properties based on that. However i am not sure why your HDTV has screen safe issues of more than 5% or so. Mine actually sees all the borders and is what I work on. I test on a 17" sdtv when i have my main code base ready. So I think I need a bit more info if you have any. I will look into this further though. I might also put an option to alter the position for people to play with if they want. - That was my reply. I do not quite know at this time why on his HDTV and not mine he has such a problem. In the mean time i have taken the precaution of bringing in the Hud elements from the game. Of course i have a lot of real estate, but i do not want my aliens bullets to be residing behind the scores and pop out and kill you, that would feel and be unfair.
2. Yes you have a life count. It is the large heart in the middle of the ship, which starts off green, then yellow, then red. It also gets smaller the less life you have (this was especially for colorblind people). You are correct that 3 hits and you are dead. I will be spending a bit more time on this, as a first time player... this is the most importnt thing about your ship. I will make it better, just got too many whacky ideas to sort through. - That was my reply. As you can see i am obviously concerned that the first time player will not notice the ships 'Heart'. So far i have Made the Heart Bigger, and therefore more noticable. I did think of putting an effect on top of it as it changes (also suggested by a friend), but i think that will just hid th Heart even further. Not sure atm, just what else i can do. I am open to suggestions though.
3. Hmm, the options screen from in game is an interesting one. It is also something i will look into, as it would be nice for it to work that way, but it will not be a fast change within my menuing system (the pause is the same level as the options). - That was my reply. I obviously could do this with work. But i am not sure i want to. Let us look at what it would give us. In game i could alter the control scheme. hmm, something that a person would do once? Maybe twice at most ever. How much development time is that really worth. The next things are Rumble and the Volumes. Well ok, you might want to alter the volumes in game, get that balance of music and SFX just right for ya. However the Rumble is something that people tend to leave on or off. Is it worth me spending a number of hours to get this, rather major change put in and debugged? At the moment I do not think so. I also think this will not alter the perception of quality with my title or effect sales of it at all. so for now, i will not be doing this.
4. This was brilliant, no idea how i forgot to put the highscore on the screen, silly me! I will be fixing that.- That was my reply. Well it speaks for itself really. So I have already put the Highscore on the top middle of the screen, in screen unsafe area, mwuhahha!
5. The graphics, none of them really (excepting a very few) are finished. My artist is busy moving house, so that part will have to wait. They should be nice graphics soon (i hope). But i have to take exception to ya not liking my graphics, geez. (not really though!). - That was my reply. We all know the graphics need some love. Hopefully soon. Did you notice what i did there though? I added humour and personality ito my reply to him. Not enough to say i am not laughing at you. But hopefully enough to engage the reveiwer. This is done so they might come back and re-playtest or review my game later. And angry tone with Peers giving feedback will get you roasted and ignored. Better to go the other way.
6. Thanks for the kind comments on the variety. Also noticing that the bosses were different, even though they ALL look the same (currently that is all 13 of them bah!) - That was my reply. It is always so nice to get compliments. Always acknowledge them, even if they are small or backhanded. Then hope this leads to more.

7. I am glad there no other issues, and thanks a bunch for trying stuff.- That was my reply. This is a HUGE relief so far. The reason is simple. Most games in Peer Review fail for MU pulling reasons, then second on the fail list is the Profile manhandling. Awesome result so far with my rewrite of this stuff.  

8. The movement of the ship is balanced to the enemy bullets, and it can feel sluggish, but the trade off is excellent, as you have a lot of accuracy. Which is better to slip the bullets with..- That was my reply. We all will feel differently about this. But the remark he made allowed me to iterate something about my product.  Something very very important. That is 'I designed it that way on purpose'. This may seem trivial. But some reviewers will totally believe that the ship speed or any other thing just happened to be that speed etc. It is good to show you have actually put thought and design and balance into this work. I love replying to these kind of comments. Makes me feel all proud that i set things this way. We must of course be careful not to be a braggard though :O
8a The easy and normal difficulty settings effect several things.Enemy rate of fire and the number of HP each enemy has are the two main differences. Once again the second part of his comment allowed me to share with the world (ok, XNA world) just what my design goals are and how i implemented them.
9. Your final comment was interesting and caused me to look into the smart bomb, i hate people feeling like they have died cheaply. They should know why they died and feel that they can do better next time. So the smart bomb was designed to be smarter than i should have made it. It is now cured (maybe i am) of being so clever. You will not die on it again. What happened was the bullets it linked to were still active for 0.5 of a second after they were smart bombed. Now they are immediately unhittable. - That was my reply. Here i apologise for something not being right. It was my design idea, as previously blogged about of course. But sometimes things are not easily understood. So back to the drawing board and vanquish my silly idea. Ahh well. It is always good to apologize, unless the feedback is getting on your nerves. This is what you signed up for right?

I then had some final thoughts. I love my final thoughts, as i try very hard to connect with not just the Peer who gave feedback, but also with other Peer who may look at this thread. What I say now might just influence them to come give me feedback too. In the first sentence you will see I describe myself as trying to give the best experience I can. In the second part I am saying that i really want you to do this more or again, and to please you i am going to get on with it now, look at me work hard at your behest. (of course i am realy doing this!)
"I am glad you liked the pickup and start on any completed stage idea. I feel it is important to give people options if they pay for the game.
Once again, thanks for your time and consideration playtesting this for me. I will get on with fixing all the issues you have highlighted for me. It will get better and stronger thanks to people like you."

Well that wraps the analysis up for now. I think i have explained myself quite well. I also hope you can see that Feedback is not something to be taken lightly. It is also something that should Never be taken for granted. Be self effacing and enjoy the Feedback. Even if it does not Gel with your feelings at first.


First 'A Shooter' playtest feedback

Tonight I thought I would post about something that is now happening with my latest XBLIG game. i have already mentioned that i have put it into Playtest, a place where my XBLIG Peers can check out what i have been busy doing, and give feedback in the forums if they so desire. This is a good place to take your game, anytime especially if you are new to creating games. As these peeps will find some bugs for you, and make suggestions that could greatly increase your chances of success when the game goes live.

On Monday i placed the game into Playtest. About an hour later I realised that I had left the default difficulty at HARD and not Normal. ARGH! I was at work now, so was unable to pull the game. However by the time i got home (late), someone had already given my game some feedback. Now i will not name the Peer that did this, as i believe in their privacy, and i don't want to go around asking permission all the time.

Here is what the FIRST Peer said:-
-I did some testing with memory card pulling and didn't find any issues.

-I noticed one title safe issue. While playing the game the player name is cut off of the screen on my television.
-This is a personal one but the controls bothered me (and my buddy I tried coop with). We really wanted to push A to shoot and kept accidentally using the special.

-Another issue with controls, specifically in coop. At the end of a level both users naturally push A to advance to the next level but what ends up happening is one user's push results in advancing the level and the other user ends up using their special. We ended up needing to designate someone to be the level advancer.
Playing through the trial I found myself wanting to keep playing after the time limit ran up. I think it's definitely hard enough, though that was on HARD, and in coop.
Overall a fun, well polished game. Good luck.
Woah, i was so shocked anyone got there so fast. Now let's break this down into what i did about this post.
1. I was very pleased to see no immediate issue with MU pulling. Phew.
2. ARGH i forgot to finish the SDTV screen safe stuff. I have it in the code but never gave it the right coords (so they only use widescreen coords). What an Idiot!
3. Ahh the controls. They feel switched to me also. Having someone remnd me they are the wrong way around is good. Though they are that way because people asked for it in my previous shooter. this time i will deal with this properly.. Thinking cap is ON.
4. Hmm, i have run into this. Stupid wrong firing of the smart bomb. First thought is to not allow smart bombs to be fired in teh first few seconds of a new level starting.. Thinking cap is now getting orangely hot!
5. Woot! they wanted to continue? This is excellent news, though i still feel there is more to go on this front.
6. The final thought was a very kind one. I appreciate this kind of thing, and always try hard to write something positive at the end of a review myself. I hope they mean't it 8D
Now I was thinking about all these issues. I hated the idea of other peeps testing it while in HARD mode. So I pulled the game. Then set about fixing my issues. Here is what i did about each one, numbered for your convenience.
2. Setup and tested the screen safe coords for my in game HUD. Looking good.
3. I switched the control to A=Fire. Then i put a new Option in the options to switch to the B=Fire haha! Solved! (thinking cap start to go back to grey!)
4. Solved this by puting the button through onto the X button and removed it from the smart button. Easy and solid. Thinking cap now at blue and cold)
These items took me a while, but ALL of them make my product better. This is very important to me.
When i get more feedback i will continue to post about what i did and why etc. This may be inetersting to some devs going through the same thing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marketing - Something new

I am a big fan of creativity. One of the big reasons i do these Indie games. I get to be creative. Now creativity for me, does not stop at creating games. I try to incorporate creative thiknking in all my walks of life. From helping my kids to housework to erm... Anything really. So what is the point of this post then? I did mention marketing...

Marketing is one of those areas that I feel I can be creative in. I am the first person I know on XBLIG to go to his local gamestop and give them flyers to put in the bags of anyone buying an Xbox game for example. well each time it comes to the marketing section of my game I have to try and come up with something new. Something that could give me an edge, something that will hopefully be informative or just plain fun. Some ideas have not really worked. Like paying for advertising on Xbox sites. A little disappointing, but we ARE the little service that could.

So marketing strats... What is important?
It is important to advertise the Service, the Xbox and also my own Game. Now the order is more interesting, as to which is really the most important ? I am sure most of you reading this think that my game is the most important, but i beg to differ. And here is my rationale. If i advertise just my game, then people might not know abuot the service, and beyond that might not really have a good reason to buy an xbox360. So here is my pecking order and why...
1. Xbox360 - I place this prominantly because without an Xbox I have no sale. So more stuff with the Xbox logo on it must be good for selling more Xboxs and therefore more potential customers for my games.
2. XBLIG - This one is about awareness. We know that a relatively small percentage of those 20 million live users go to XBLIG, we know a lot of people are not aware of it. So once again, growing our customer base is of great import.
3. My Company - Yes, still not the game. Promoting my company could have all sorts of side benefits, from people following this blog to people possibly hiring me for my work. It is also one of the reasons my games have to be of a high quality for the service. Self promotion is BIG, and should not be taken lightly by any company. Ever seen the big boys advertising themselves ? Yes, all the time huh! We need to do the same.
4. My Games - Yup... Last, but not least. Using this games advertising is a vehicle, a vehicle that carries not only itself but also my company and the XLIG service and also the Xbox, which i should include Microsoft as well i guess. But it doesn't stop there, because everyone on the XBLIG service could benefit from my advertising. We are ALL in this Together! Be positive and be Proud.

So here I am nearing the end of another dev cycle on my own game. It must be time to come up with something new to try. I am sure that is really why you are reading this article...

I am planning on doing a Live test of my new game at the Local Gamestop. I am intending to setup my Xbox and my 'A Shooter' game at the Shop and let people test it while i watch. This is a great way to grab some info about your game. I will allow people to play my XBLIG game before it is finished, right there in the Shop. I am hoping that i can get some promotion from the shop before i do this, but i do not yet think that is required. Yes it is a 1 dollar game, but the exclusivity is enormous. I will most likely alter my game in some subtle ways after this kind of witnessed playtest as well.
I know you might be thinking that this won't help anything, but maybe the quality of my game. But I believe this will help everyone. You saw my priority list, and this will advertise in exactly that order. What I need is a bunch of stuff ready though. Like my Corporate logo big enough to be seen, an Xbox logo, Game logo etc all on big enough card to be seen easily. Same goes for the XBLIG logo.. Though I am sure I will need permission for that one. So this isn't going to happen next week.
One of the things I will do to promote the game while doing this is having flyers that people can fill out with their name or gamertag or whatever they want. I will then have a special credits screen for anyone who fills out a flyer. This means they will then have a personal stake in the game. hich i hope will at least get them to download it when it goes live. It is also a way for me to get a mailing list for people interested in my games. Everyone should know how golden they are.

Once i get this more formulated and setup i will post again. I am Truly excited about this new campaign idea. I hope you are too.

any Comments? Opinions? Diggs maybe ?


When youre feeling Ill

Yup, that would be me. I managed to get work done today and even managed to upload new stuff to Sony.

Meanwhile i also got A Shooter into playtest for XBLIG.

However my head hurts and i feel sick. I hope i don't barf.. i dislike barfing.

Time for bed for me, guess ill waffle more tomorrow to make up for this rubbish post now!

G'night, sleep tight.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Shooter Going to Playtest

I would have put it into playtest tonight, but i am too tired to take screenshots and do a video.

Then again i do have two gameplay videos already.. Hmm, i guess i could just use one of those.

A shooter Gameplay video #1

A Shooter Gameplay video #2

There are the links for anyone who wants to watch them. so the Gameplay is mostly there, but i am in a conundrum. What am i going to do about trial mode. After all my game starts off pretty slow. Then ramps up.. Beefs up and generally gets waaay more exciting as you progress. so many choices i am not sure which to choose. Ok, i hate this part of the dev process, and i am really sure a lot of others do as well. here are my choices as I see them at the moment... Not in any particular order as they say on DWTS...

1. I can make several levels to show off my Aliens and their firepower, and the gameplay... This option seemed good for Pellmell, as that game was a lot more complex and bigger overall. For this game, it is not about the new aliens so much as improving and facing the greater odds/more intersting gameplay. Not sure i can show it any better than the levels i have already. Prolly a waste of time

2. I can let them play the first 4 levels. This is how i have it right now. It lasts about 5 minutes, so hopefully leaving time for them to try again if they died, or try again with the multiplayer. Seems like a good choice at the moment. My issue with it is the first 2 levels are a bit bland... Maybe it is because i have sen them so many times, i don't know.

3. Trial levels will be lvels 1,3,5,7.. Now that is a much stronger experience, and shows a lot more off. However those levels from 5 onwards are tough for anyone not used to shooters etc. So i am worried i will alienate prospective buyers.

I guess i need to get the game into Playtest and see what the Peers say. I can at least ask people what they think of the different options. This is also why i have not put it into Playtest tonight. cos i need to write up what is good and what is expected in the game etc..

Well something for me to sleep on i hope.
g'night and good luck in all your Quandries!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Shooter not quite ready on the Xbox

I have been really busy tonight. Trying so hard to get the new game ready for some Peer Playtesting. I also had a busy day solving with the help of my workmates, all the bugs for Sony. Woah, am i a busy guy! I also had the pleasure of having a couple of boys stop over with my kids. They had a riot of a time, and especially loved playing Castle Crashers together. They were cheering and group hugging when they finally beat the game. They have been working on that for quite some time it seems.

Anyway, back to my night. I am working hard on getting A Shooter to peer playtest for two reasons. One is to Lock the name noone else can seriously use it then). The other is to see what happens when Peer reveiwers (well playtesters), are confronted with an obviously artstically sub-standard product. But one that has pretty sound gameplay mechanics.

To be honest i have spent a good portion of tonight re-writing some of my MU pulling code. It is a bit more pro-active now. I hope this version works out. Was sort of fun to do. If this works i shall also have to regress it back into Pellmell. Yeech!

One thing i did tonight was to produce a temporary thumbnail for the dashboard :D
A Shooters Thumbnail
Exciting isn't it. And all my own work, lol. I still have a few quirky problems, like the fact i forgot to write the 2 lines of code to allow you to progress through the game (saves section). This is something that i'll now do tomorrow, as i am tired. Not quite sure what else is needed for Playtest. I guess i'll just do it and see what happens....

Oh, and i also had to change the name from 'ashooter' to what i really wanted 'A Shooter'. Cool huh! haha

Though somehow i am apprehensive. I have always put finished products into Playtest before...

Wish me luck

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Working the Weekend

So i got my bug report yesterday from Sony in relation to the latest submission for The Midway Spaces.

The Midway is a very large scale project for the Midway, and therefore needs a good deal of testing (testing time should always be appropriate for the size of the project).. Sony have thankfully taken on this job and have been testing the spaces for us. So far we have done quite well for numbers of bugs. Much lower than i expected.

Now it is saturday and the reason for my post is maybe obvious. Some times you have to do what ya have to do to get a product on the shelves on time. Or in this case, on the virtual shelves... :|

I don't mind putting in the extra time to get stuff done on time, and i believe the commitment of all i work with here at MMI have the same desire to get stuff done. We need it fixed and uploaded ready for Sony on Monday morning for their next test cycle. Sure hope it goes well.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and isn't in work....


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tidying up A Shooter

Time for a quick tidy up. Getting rid of all those untidy and unwanted functions from my code.

In tidying up i have managed to save like a whopping 18MB off the zip file, haha! I would never have thought it possible. Now i have enough room to put more music into the game, woohoo!

I was gonna rant tonigth about cheap ass games. Or ones i see as cheap ass anyway. These would include most of the Avatar games on the XBLIG service. And i think it warrents a more detailed approach than the one i would end up doing this late tonight. so hopefully i can get it together tomorrow and alienate and annoy some of my fellow developers, cos i think that might happen. Even though i won't mean it personally i tell ya!

Oh back to 'A Shooter'. I have been filling in sections like the Upsell screen. EVERY XBLIG game should have one. YES i mean you!
An Upsell screen is where you go to befroe your Trial ends, it is where you get the chance to try to sell the features or exciting parts of your game to the downloading public. so make it short, make it sweet, and ya never know. You might pursuade them to buy your game.

Next i went onto tidy up my credits screen. This was fairly easy as it is a copy of the one from Pellmell, and the credits haven't changed much at all. So that was fast. Then it links to my X-Marketing screen.
What is a X-Marketing screen... Erm.. Don't tell me you don't have one of those in your game! Your excuse is that it is your first game ? Well that isn't good enough. do you have a second game in the works? Then advertise that one. If nope, then make one up quick, or do anotehr developer or developers a favor by putting their game in your game. You cannot afford to waste any chance of promoting XBLIG my friend. My X-Marketing screen has my previous 3 titles on it, Aceball, Pellmell and A Dreamland Chronicles Game. So it looks pretty full. This time i took the decision to IGNORE SDTVs. Ya hear that Peer reviewers ? I am going to IGNORE screen safe for this screen. It has none essential info on it, and i am Good with that. Phew.. And i wasn't gonna rant :O haha

With this tidied up i took out a buncha debug code and am now going to go onto looking at the saving code i have. It is pretty solid, but i believe there is possibly a hole in the try-catches... Somehow i reckon a Code 4 can squeeze out of. That is not acceptable to me.

Then i am going to play through my levels once more tonight and balance them again. This will be an ongoing job for the next several weeks i am sure. I do need to get this into Peer review at some point. Though not sure when exactly.

Finally i need to start looking at J Wattes Highscore code to see how i can make sessions work, as he has sharing of leaderboards working, and i would love to have them. Though i really need to save more custom info alongside the Highscores. I'll look at it while the graphics are being done i hope. Though without a second Xbox i am not sure how to test it :|


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Midway in PS3Home - Play to win guide pt2 - Trigger Happy

So Captain Black was taken and removed from The Midway. He was the sneakiest man i have ever met, well met is a stretch, as he always stayed in the shadows. Hard to see hard to talk to, but he knew his stuff. He was one of the best under cover operators ever. So going into The Midway was a challenging prospect.

I am not like Captain Black, i am not an undercover stealth operator like him. The traditional spy. I am more of the So Obvious noone can see me variety, or the hidden in plain sight spy. So i disguised myself to fit in with the Midway carnies and their clientel. this was a bold move, but one i am famous for (well, infamous).

Here i am showing off the game i am going to reveal tonight.
I dare to beckon you close, from right in front of the game!

Lets get closer and see what this wonderful game has to offer shall we ?

Check out the prize board
This is THE best first prize in all of The Midway. Ok, i know that is my opinion, but it Rocks. It somehow manages to transcend visual abilities and make it appear that you have a massive hole in your body. Like you have been shot through with a big bullet or something. Marvellous stuff this.

Ok, so lets start this game and see what the HUD looks like.

The Trigger Happy HUD
The Hud has the usual game timer in the top middle. This appears to be standard in all the minigames in The Midway. We start the game with 30 seconds on the clock, and it seems like an age, till you get to the higher levels. In the bottom left we have thenumber of bullets you have in your gun, and fortunately it is Infinite, yup, endless bullets. So go Ape, fire as rapidly as you can. Then in the bottom right corner we have the scoring counter, the t number is the target scorto win the prize for the curent level, the bottom number is your current score value. Don't ever pay any attention to this meter. It is just a distraction from shooting stuff. And shooting stuff gets ya points, and points get ya the prizes. You will also notice a bright green circle with a cross in it on the middle left side. this is your cursor. Your targetting device.

Let's talk about the places or items you can shoot, as they have different point values. This is a very important point (point haha!).

The Score values for targets

As you can see from the Score values. They are spread around a little bit. The secret to the game though is to FLOW. This means keep scoring as many points as you can per second. (pps or points per second). This is achieved by shooting the higher point scorers, but not letting the smaller ones go to waste. One point before we discuss what to shoot. The cursor (your targetting device) never stops moving. so you need to be in constant control of where it is going. Don't let it go by itself anywhere, as you may lose track of it momentarily.

Here is the best scoring path break down...
You start in the center of the screen, so while you are there, shoot the Bulls Eyes out,
then head downwards shooting any cuddle creature heads that pop up on the way,
then you will shoot a bottle or can and onto the BIG points.
Now you are in the fishy area near the bottom of the game. Time your movment to hit all the passing fish. It is possible to not miss a single one.
In the small amount of down time as you shoot the fish, move up ocassionally and take out a can or bottle,
but get right back down for the next passing fish.

In this way you can easily score more points than even the level 10 has you aiming for. Don't go back for the Bulls eyes, I know it is tempting, and the Midway staff want you to do it, but it isn't worth the travel time. Same for those Foosball models feet, lots points but hard as hell to hit.

Here is me celebrating winning the best first prize in The Midway. Woohoo! And not a soul here at The Midway seems to have noticed me. This is an awesome disguise!

That's me wearing the Super Frist prize T-Shirt

So now you know what to do. This is probably the easiest game to win przes at. But like all the games you may need a bit of practice.
Good luck, and I will bring another report next week.

Oh here come the clowns, and it appears they would like to take me to dinner. told ya it was a wonderful disguise, haha!

Bye for now..
Cool huh!

My Mate Simes

I got to take Friday off last week and spend the day with my mate Simes and his wife, 2 children and his inlaws. We met down in snata Monica and had a wonderful day just chatting and being friends. Friends are so wonderful and although it has been quite a large number of years since we had ast talked, it really felt like i had not seen him in a couple of weeks. The waffle and comrarderie was so good. We had a great day at the beach and the rest of the attractions at Santa Monica.

Alas  it all ends too quickly and they had to go to Vegas (ahh poor things ;) haha). While there they got married by Elvis.

The Simon get re-married!

The video is excellent.And made me and Eliza giggle a number of times. Everyone should get married by elvis at least once it seems.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Down Time

Down Time is that point at the end of a project, or near it. That you have sent off your submission of your game to the testers, and are now awaiting a report. usually at this time I get to test the game i have been painstakingly working on for so many months. This time however it is different.

I am not able to purchase the Tickets nescessary to play the minigames, as i do not have a means to do this (faux credit card number etc). So all i can really do is wander around and play the free games as they pop up. This i can tell ya is Uber boring. Though it could be worse.

So what do i do instead, well fortunatly i got to write the Teleporting Minigame for the Central Plaza. But i finished it yesterday... and then did a big test today. Lo and behold it seems to work great. So that leaves me with erm.... Nothing to do but wait ?

Of course i did manage to interfere a bit on the other projects going on at Mass Media. But they al have very competant people working on them, so  a few minor discussions later and i am done with that.

So what now.. Well i dunno. I got so bored i left early and headed home. Where the kids were hard at homework. I did enjoy checking over their work and helping them a little each. Now that was productive.

I do not understand why people who have worked so hard to get to this point in the games dev cycle, cannot simpy wait at home. till something comes back. not always possible, but in this case it is. Of course this would mean that i could get on with My XBLIG game A Shooter.

We shall just have to see what happens tomorrow, but so far my plan is to go in LATE baby yeah!


Monday, April 12, 2010

It is a Good day

I wasn't sure what to write about tonight, so i figured i would write about my day.

After dropping my son at school and then going to my Physio therapy this morning. I ended up at work (no shock there!). I was hoping to get soem email or other from Sony, but i think in this case, no news is good news. They are busy testing our new submission i sent to then on sunday (yesterday). I hope it goes smoothly and The Midway will be aok to be published on the 29th.

Then i got busy on the minigame for the Playstation home Plaza. Yeah, that's right. We are gonna have a portal directly to The Midway in the Main Plaza area. Woohoo! Well i had to write it, adn today i got it finished. Tested it with 3 people so far and all looks good. I should test it with about 5 people at least befroe i send it to Sony. So by the end of tomorrow i hope it is sent.

Then I got home and had some lovely ambrosia creamed rice, from the Tin, imported from England, yum yum. Then got to work on A Shooter for XBLIG making the Difficulty levels work and also started work on level 12. The difficulty levels are ace. Easy mode is a lot easier, and the hardest mode is most certainly hard, but i played through at least 7 levels before my arm started aching (thats what the physio is for).

So it has been a very successful day, and i am glad i got to remember it here :D


A Shooter Decision Followup

I have done it. I have made a decision, and one that i am happy with. Or at least think i am at the moment.

I ground down the issue to as few Major questions as i could. Then tried my hardest to answer them truthfully. I had help from other XBLIG Devs (thanks DrMistry, theBigDaddio) and a few friends (Jeff and Paul). So without further ado here are the questions i distilled it all down too.

1. Will people who buy the game feel ripped off with only 13 levels?
2. Will this negatively effect my downloads of the game?
3. What effect will this have on the View of Sorcerygames overall quality?

I had a lot more questions at first, but am very happy now with only three that i care about.

1. I think people will not feel ripped off. They will spend a single dollar and get a game that if they are good they can play through the whole thing in about 35-40 minutes (still gotta test exactly how long). I think this is great value for money, as it will take them some time to get good enough to actually do this. So realastic time this game is worth must be about 3 hours or more.
2. I do not think the number of downloads will be effected by the number of levels. Noone knows how long the levels are etc, so a number is just a random piece of information. Though i do believe that there is percieved value in a higher number. (i have 100 levels etc!). In the end the quality of the gameplay is what will sell this game. As that is what it is designed for.
3. This one concerned me the most and in the end cost me the most sleep. I have decided though that quality can be measured in various ways. For this title it will not be the graphics or the effects all over the place (like my other title Pellmell was). This one is about the pure simple addictive gameplay experience. This is where I believe the game shines. Yes, i have SFX on button presses and i will have other quality type stuff in there, bought music and shared hgh scores etc. So for 1 Freakin Dollar this game is gonna be a great addition to the Sorcerygames portfolio.

So there you have it. I have made my choice. I have already designed level 13 and it is in. It makes me giggle when i play it, so i must like it a lot. Now i just need to create level 12s level aliens triggers, and the levels are first pass done. Maybe i'll get time to look at the leaderboard sharing code soon. Not that i am looking forward to that work, bah! But someone has to do it.

Thanks for the input everyone,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Making better Blog + A Shooter Decision

I have been quite active over the last couple of months trying to improve my Blogging skills. So far i have introduced Pictures, this i loved, and a picture can speak a thousand words. Then recently i aded my first video. Ok, so these are a bit more time consuming to create, Also Youtube will only allow me so many videos per my account (8 i think), so not sure waht will happen with that when i get really going. In the last and a couple of previous posts i have introduced coloured text. I wasn't sure what it would come off like, but tbh i am quite happy. The effect is much better than i expected. Now i just need to work on refining what i highlight, and with which colours.

So far i hope you would all agree that my blogging is getting better and not worse in the visual department. I am not so certain from a creative standpoint though. Simply because i get no comment reactions, so it is hard to know what to do. Till i have a better direction i will carry on with my meandering writings.

Really Important Decision to be made...

On a more serious note, i am in a quandry over 'A Shooter'. It was supposed to be a 1 dollar game, but the time i am putting into it are expanding this. The gameplay is exactly what i wanted, and i think aweome. The issue i am having is what to do with it. I can see i have a further 9 levels to create, and i am not sure anyone will truly appreciate the work i will have to put in to finish them properly. I still have a lot of work on the overall balance for the existing 11 levels. So my thoughts are... So far there is about 25 minutes of gameplay so far. So if I add just 1 more level, and then maybe do a special Boss for level 13 (seems appropriate), will the game be any worse for it ? I do not think so, and it will have about 35 minutes of gameplay too at that point. I think the sales will be exaclty the same as if i have 20 levels. I can always do a sequel if people love the gameplay and mechanics, but at this time i think i am just overdoing it.
In all Seriousness.... What Do YOU Think?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Shooter Gamplay Trailer - Level 11

The Advanced Levels. This is where i start throwing more at the player. Make them move around more than before. Further down this article I will describe my design phylosophies to achieve this goal. Firstly though, there is the Video to show you the level. This will help anyone understand my waffle.

There ya go, I Hope you enjoyed Level 11.

Now onto some details. Let's start by getting around some basic facts...
1. I took a hit at the start. Yup, i should have been paying more attention, my excuse is that i was distratced by Fraps :D (always gotta have an excuse ready!)
2. I died on the end Boss. Yup i did. You didn't think i was spoil the Boss for ya now did ya ? I will some time int he future do a real EOLB video compilation. so people can get hints if they want to. Not today though. Or maybe he is just too good for me ?

Ok, let's get on with discussing my design goals here...
1. One goal i have is to make the Advanced levels distinctive. The previous 10 levels could get a bit forgetfull, and that was ok. They were really training, for what is to come.
2. Second goal was to make you move around more, any fool can sit still and shoot something. Though i did today toy with a boss you had to stay completely still to destroy him.
3. Was to make my test graphics as colorful as a set of Smarties :) (or M&Ms)

For the levels to be more Distinctive i am going to choose paterns, patterns of Aliens you will recognize and say 'Woah it's the Big Red Blocker level', or words to that effect. Though if you really say it out loud, people might start looking at you funny. This level is in fact the Big Red Blocker Alien level. They are there to make it harder to shoot the aliens that are your real enemy, the ones that are actively trying to shoot you down. as these blockers move around. It forces you to move around too, especially with all those bullets flying your way.

Making you move around is really part of the last paragraph. The blockers block you from annihilating the weak enemy ships, and therefore allow more bullets to come on screen. The best part is that the longer the small enemies are on screen the more angles they will be firing at you from. Therefore making you move around even more. This same effect can be achieved by putting aliens on the screen from the sides or back (as I have done in a previous level).

Pretty test graphics... Well, i had to be able to tell them apart. And why not make test graphics pretty. The color of the enemies or even their looks does not play in any part of the gameplay. The gameplay will be the same, and just as solid as it is now, when the graphics look beautiful. This is also the same for the boring backdrop. It is only boring for screenshots, cos anyone playing the game won't see anything but the aliens and their bullets, well only that .. if they want to survive.

I hope you can see these easy to use ideas for gameplay mechanics, as they are easy to implement and also can work for platformers and FPsers.


Pacman lives on a planet!!

I had to grab this from the BBC British news website as i coulnd't link to it directly.

The Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn has caught an interesting new view of the tiny moon Mimas. The probe measured temperature differences across the object's surface and produced a map that looks just like the 1980s Pac-Man video games icon.

This proves that Pacman lives in our solar system. Though he does seem to be stuck eating just one giant moon, and not lots of those little dots. I always wondered where he put it all. I at first thought hollow legs like my kids, then i realised he has no legs.

Now no legs brings up an interesting idea. He must slide around, cos we know he doesn't roll around. So maybe he is related to a snake, or Slug!!

Just a few thoughts...


Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Shooter Boss 11 - Advanced Boss Design

Here is a little picture of me Fighting (ok, dodging at this point) the Boss from level 11. Which is the start of the games Advanced levels.
End of Level Boss #11

Now that picture makes this boss look like a walk in the park doesn't it. Just let me tell you that looks can be deceiving though. This is one of those cases. I have not modified the picture in any way, you can even see the debug text on it still. So what makes him nasty, after all he doesn't even move. Yep, you heard that right, he doesn't even move a bit, once he is on.
So just how hard can it be to kill a stationary boss. Well that is one of the things that makes designing bosses interesting. Challenging the player to come up with on the fly decisions or skill to figure out what to do. Most bosses are about methods, even the simple ones. Shooter players know this, and it is an important skill to pickup and improve on. This shooter will teach you how to play shooters, no doubt in my mind at this point.

So lets move onto the main section of this article. What am i going to do with my next 10 bosses ?

Advanced Boss Design
The 11th - 20th bosses will be on what i am calling the advanced levels. This is where i will take what you have learn't and see how well you learn't it. The Bosses however are a completely new breed, yet seem very familiar in some ways.

1. First issue with the advanced bosses is that you can cycle around levels that contain them. This is done by beating all 20 levels, and then wrapping back to level 11 for the 21st etc. So these bosses had to be able to be expanded and made more difficult easily and fairly.
2. They needed to be evolved from the Simpler bosses found in the first 10 levels. I want players to feel advancement, even if my graphics do not loko incredibly new (or new at all :O)
3. These bosses needed to be a taste of new, and especially with boss 11, a view into the future and hopefully a view that will scare people into realizing the possibilities of what these bosses can become.

How do i do that ?
1.... These bosses contain an element that will be so easy to increase the difficulty on. Namely the spawn of the support aliens. If i spped up the spawn by a small amount (say 10%) each time you encounter this boss, it will get harder and harder by an approximately proportional amount. Simple, and yet sooo effective.
2... These bosses now have the power of Spawn. They no longer have to fight alone, and they themselves will also get more aggressive and manouverable as the Advanced levels progress. advancement in most every way. Some more obvious than others.
3... This new view and peek into the future advanced bosses should scare anyone with an imagination. Even though the Boss himself could just sit still, it is possible to spawn support aliens all over the screen, from every angle. Just think of your most hated alien from the previous levels(where they were introduced) and realise that they could be helping a voracious Boss.. I hope you can see my point.

So my Advanced Boss Design follows some simple elements, which is one reason i am confident they will work out. The only tip i can really give is, Complex aliens do not nescessarily make good aliens. Combinations however can be anything and are much easier to control and balance.

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