Monday, May 31, 2010

Demo stand Picture 2

This is the latest pic i have of my demo station. Ok, so i know this is just the monitor, but one thing at a time. The side panel i have created are pretty much what i want, only they are currently just printed paper. I tried to print them properly and my printer refused to work right. It kept printing the main body of black text as grey. this is real annoying, as otherwise i think i would have them created onto the mounting board etc.

Next up is to do the base board for the bottom of the monitor and then start assembling the rest of the actual stand, and locking pieces into place etc. But more of that later...

I did get my joystick pulling code done today for A Shooter, but that was it. I haven't even had chance to test it properly yet. More to do as usual. I may need help or something. Maybe just less Apathy.


Sunday, May 30, 2010


It is sunday. A fine day of the week. One of the 7 i look forward to. But today i am being pretty apathetic about everything. Not sure why. I am sure though it has to do with a number of things.

Today is my Dads birthday. He is in England and i am out here in the US. I am missing him today. Not being able to just dawdle round to the house he lives in and stay longer than he wants me too is a bit of a downer. He is the type of dad who tries so hard to please everyone. That is not possible of course, but he tries so hard. When it doesn't work out he gets a bit down about it. Wish he were here with me today, in super sunny california. Though i hear the weather ain't so bad in England. He recently changed his phone number and i cannot find it, argh! So no phone call to him today, maybe i will have better luck tomorrow when i call me mum, at least i have her phone number. Happy birthday Dad, love ya lots.

I did not have a good nights sleep last night. Suffered a bit more with my shoulder, but i suspect that i am also suffering from fatigue. Having a full time job and also working on my Indie stuff is tiring. I just have so many balls in the air at once. All demanding some level of attention most days. Today i feel very weary of all this.

This weekend i really want to finish the the monitor surrounds and also get the box built that it will all sit on top of. This is now a tall order with only 1 more day left of my extended weekend.

Still i had a nap this afternoon and am feeling a little better, but not really excited about much of anything. Doing the technical stuff for A Shooter right now is at the low end of my enthusiasm scale. Maybe i can work through sme of my wish list.

Hope you are all having a better day than i feel i am (cos it isn't really a bad day of course!)


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Need a picture of me stand

I know this is weak sauce, but i cannot take a picture yet of my stand. Well actually i can take a picture.. Only i cannot get the photos off the camera atm.

I am gonna see what i can do abuot this, as i haven't gotten very far, but i have gotten somewhere.

I was a good day today, watching my tenni team win the division and celebrating with them. Even though i cannot play at the moment it was a good time. Then we go to Taco Bell for some grub then back home. A good day, then my kids went off to a friends house wher they played with the two boys there  (mostly castle crashers). Then we went over later and the kids were in the pool for several hours. On the way home much later there was a sobriety checkpoint in Wood Ranch. I have never seen one of these before. Quite interesting. As i had not been drinking at all i wasn't worried.

So now i am back home abnd back to working on the stand flanges. (hmm, great word flanges). Yeah, i did work on them in the afternoon. But i was an idiot... Yeah, ya heard it here first. Don't try and do text layout and design in paintshop packages. Like i spent way too long doing. Instead use a package like word. Well i hope that is gonna work, and i am about to find out.

When i get a picture or two, ill post them up.


Well i found a nice SD card reader i had forgotten about, so below are my first pictures of my developing Demo station.

This is the whole demo station. With my bed behind it andscissors and velcro and all that great stuff one needs to have to make anything cool.
This is a Closer view of the Top deck, though you can clearly see in this picture the bottom deck, and that is where the Xbox will reside soon.
This final closeup has the actual maounting board company logo and the XBLIG logo on it. That one is velcro'd on and ready to go. The left side one is the new test printout from the new Word Docx that i made. And yeah, I was dumb and word is so much easier to do this in. Good knowledge. now i have to print the lect one properly and then start work on the right side. Then it is back to more preparing of the stand i guess.

with that... Good Night.

Where does all the time go?

Tonight I managed to copy some discs of my sons Black Belt promotion/exhibition from last November (yeah a wee while ago eh!). I also managed to fix some more bugs in A Shooter. Had dinner and erm.... yeah

So what happened to all that time. It is amazing that time can seem so inconsistent with how long it takes to pass. Sometimes hours can go flying by and minutes can take forever.

Take a few days ago, i went to the Doctors office to get my shoulder MRI results. I got there 10 minutes early, but i had to wait in the waiting room for a whole hour. This was slow but people were coming and going so not too bad. Then it went into super slow mode when i was taken to one of the jail cells, erm.. i mean't treatment rooms. There i was bored to tears nearly for 40 more minutes... This was a very long time, or it seemed like it. The Doctor saw me for only like 10 minutes and they went super fast. Go figure!

On an opposite type thread, i visited Dave High today. This guy has a printers shop very near me and i was after quotes from him to make me some t-shirts and hats etc for contest prizes. I have visited Dave befroe and he is such a nice chap. Roxy in the front office is also very charming and i have to say that the hours we spent there last time and this were like rocketship time. It passed so quickly it is amazing. I have to say i love visiting their shop. They are both very cool people. I hope i can get some money together to buy some of what they offer.

Tomorrow i am sure the time will go fast and slow at the same time. This is because my tennis team, the Moorpark Raiders is in their final match of regular season. If we win all 5 courts we will be in the divisional playoffs. If we lose a court the currently second place team might be able to overtake us. It is very exciting and I will be there to cheer my team on, as i am too injured to play (bummer!!). So i am sure while i watch us winning will be fast time, i reckon that any close court will take forever to get done. Either way, it is going to be interesting.

g'night and stay healthy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Xblig, the land of the Avatars!

Hear them ROAR!

The land of the Avatar games is on your Xbox. If you haven't found this fabled land. Then you need to get yourself over to the Games Download section and choose Indie games. In there you will find all manner of Avatar games. Created by talented and not so talented people. Games that will make you laugh, or wince or cry out loud.

Xbox Live arcade (XBLA) is the big brother of Xbox Live Indie Games(XBLIG). It has a lot of quality games on it. Games that have been vetted by microsoft and then put through some pretty rigorous testing and work. These games are professionally created and usually show that in all aspects. The Indie games are not so heavily tested. Or vetted in any way.

What does this mean? What are ya waffling on about?
The land of the Avatars is popular. Most Avatar games seem to be garnering a considerable amount of downloads (even if some have not got a good sell thru). so what we know is that Xbox owners really love to play games with their Avatars in them. Not really a surprise. The surprise is the lack of choice in the XBLA area. The reason is pretty simple. It takes a lot of time to create an XBLA title, whereas an XBLIG title can be created from the examples in a week or so. So XBLA cannot hope to bring out a large number of games featuring the lovely little Avatars. But XBLIG can (also MS has several restrictions for XBLA titles pertaining to lots of stuff like leaderboards and presence etc). For XBLIG once again, there are no real restrictions. I am sure if there were we would have a lot less Avatar, or any other games to peruse on the service .

Why do I care?
All developers on the Xblig service are seeing the large download numbers, on some really crap games. It makes it hard not to jump on that bandwagon and create something. I myself am considering this as a form of advertising or marketing. It would get my company name out there to maybe 40K potential buyers. That is an impressive number. If i can then lead them to my other games of better gameplay and quality, then is this virtual advertising? Would it work?

At the moment i am looking for funds to finish my current game in a way that will make me more proud. I will be pondering my options as i go along this next couple of months though for sure.

Good Night and Avatar well.

Note: Of course some people think that MS are already being over restrictive on it's rules for Avatars. This however is MS decision, and i guess they have good reasons for controlling them. Though it does make reveiwing games with Avatars more difficult.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blizzard Hacked my Wow account?

How can i say such a thing as the title to this post?


My account was hacked a few days ago. As were my friends accounts of the last several months. Ok tos this isn't new news really. But what is new news, is that i believe it is not the Hackees fault. There are no key loggers on my machine. There were no key loggers on several of my friends machines.

Blizzard tells us that it is our fault. OUR machines have been compromised etc. That is BS i tell ya. There is nothing on on any of mine or my friends machines. (ok, so one of them had a key logger ok!). The rest of us feel secure with our solid virus checkers and scanners and firewalls etc.

Ahh, it's that Curse gaming and it's addons mate! No it freakin isn't. I can tell ya that cos i don't use addons. I am a Neanderthal when it comes to such enhancements.

So please someone tell me how Blizzard can possibly believe that an account that has been dormant for over 6 months could possibly have been key logged? Just how is that done now?

Her is another oddity about the recent 'Hacks'. the accounts had their passwords changed, and some had authenticaors put on them. Now mine was just a password change... But.... where was the email telling me that my password had been changed? I got one when i went on and changed it myself to get back my account. How can this possibly be? This is also the same thing that happened to my friends accounts. This is BS i tell ya. Somehow someone changed my account password and i wasn't notified by Blizzard... Let me think about that.... does that mean that in reality Blizzard is the one being Key logged? Then they use those admin paswords to suppress password account change emails?

Something is wrong, and someone needs to do something about it. Class action for all those 2 week periods that everyone is losing. I have to say that emotional trauma is another point. My son cried when i told him we had been hacked and all our characters were now naked and poor. This is complete and utter BS.

I am really annoyed about this and i have noone to shout at. I HATE that. I need to vent to someone and i wish it could be Blizzard, but all ya do there is hold the line till ya get a poor sap to shout at, and that isn't satisfactory!


Anyone got any ideas on this? I BLAME Blizzard, they lost my details at the very least. do they have an emplyee that is stealing these things?

Good Freakin Night!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Time to Blog

I have taken me meds tonight. The ones that will hopefully get me at least 5 hours of solid sleep. so now it must be time to blog as usual i did not make it earlier. So what do i waffle one about? should it be a directionless diatribe or something more directed?

Well i am going for the first option, as i love that idea a lot more at the moment...

Ilerion, Welcome to the whacky world of Xblig and Xna programming and playtesting. I see ya got your first one in there on Old School Racer. For anyone that wants to know, Ilerion is a cool dude that i do have the pleasure of knowing. Though darn him for finding several bugs in my game tonight haha! ;)  No really, great job. I am sure everyone in the community will appreciate you as they get to know you.

A Shooter is about ready for the Playtest section once more, however Ilerion found a bug i just cannot seem to find. Sooo, i might just put it up there anyway. Not sure. So it will have to wait till tomorrow now. so much to do, so little time.

Talking bout Meds, it is also a game that some web site i read said was worth a look. How wrong they were. I hate it when i get cheated (or feel cheated) out of living or succeeding in a game. This breakout game (i love breakout games, as you could tell from my Pong/breakout mix Aceball) sucks badly. I just felt cheated from the first moments. Not the way to start a game, no wonder it only has 2 stars. Pity as it looks like the programmer can program too!

Onto PS3.. Once again i have gotten The Midway sent off to Sony. I cannot disclose why it has not gone live yet on PS3 Home, but it should now be slated for Mid June. I know you folks are gonna love it. Well certainly gonna love it more than a lot of home. When i get more info i will post something up. Our secret agent is still on the loose in the Midway.

Tonight i don ear plugs and Vicodin.. Hmm, can i don Vicodin? Maybe i will consume Vicodin and consume ear plugs.. Hmm, nope.. that doesn't really work either. Just how would the ear plugs know where to go ?

With that random Thought i am Outta here!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Splash screen

I keep forgetting to put up the new splash screen. It is action packed and dynamic, though not too cluttered.

Here ya go.

The new splash screen is quite the improvement over the old one, i am sure you would agree.

Well now i am serious about good night!

The Demo Stand

I have started on the Demo stand. I am using an old table that i made for my sons room many a year ago, this table was to hold his PS1 and it did it well. Then it moved onto holding his gamecube. Now it is going to be repainted black and have an addition on the bottom (to make it taller). Then a curtain and a monitor on top and ooh, an Xbox 360 at it's heart.!

So this weekend we bought all the bits i would need. Velcro strapps, and a couplea sheets of plywood a can of black spray paint. I am sure we bought more stuff too, but i cannot remember.

Well tonight i painted the stand black. I also redid the top splash baord for the monitor. I didn't like the old one as it looked a bit crap. Like i had just knocked it together real quick. which i guess i did. However this led me to a much nicer top board. Currently it is being compressed to let the glue dry and it stick real wel together. I am not sure if the stand will look great, cos in my excitement i have spray painted it black... In the dark! Yup, i did it at about 11:30 at night, outside, haha! Tomorrow might tell mne a story methinks.

Apart from that i have a monitor and really need to made the 16 inch high box that will be the base of the stand. Then the stand wil be attached to that and finally that will make it high enough for people to stand and play my games on it.

I am rather excited tbh. I am also excited as I fixed the bugs a friend found in the game, but also i added a new type of credits screen. Specifically for Sponsors credits. Here's hoping i get some at some point soon.

I think maybe tomorrow the game can go back into playtest for a week or so. It has a lot more stuff in it now. Ok, i know most is just stuff to make it look nice etc, but it still needs to be tested. And stuff that looks nice is what will probably sell it. I need more good stuff!

Once i get something going with me stand i shall post up some pictures. Yeehaw!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Work and Thoughts

So now A Shooter has it's sounds in. Yes it is true, we finally got a few collection sounds into the game. It seems complete, though i am sure there is somewhere that the sound isn't correct. Maybe i will catch it when i do real playthroughs.

uff, my typing is so much worse tonight than usual, and it is never great :S... bah!

The game is about ready to enter Playtest for maybe once more. It is hard to tell how much more i can afford to put into this title. I am ramping up production on my marketing strategies and stuff.. So many things to do and try and get done. Yikes! Still it was too windy today to spray paint my console tower (the one i will use for demoing my game live outside of Gamestop!).

Here is a link i found funny.

I emailed a guys about the possibility of doing me some Company music. I really want a track that reminds people of 'Live and Let Die' from the Bond movie of the same name. time will tell if he can do it, and if i can afford it. Sure hope i can afford it, it will be coolio!

Not quite sure what else to say, except wait and see what i hope to have up my sleeve very soon!

Indie Devs ftw!


Latest verion of A Shooter

My latest version has come a long way since it was last in playtest. Yet it is about ready to go back in there. This time there are a few more technical additions to my game. Onces that will require people to test them.

They are:-
the Global Hghscore System.
the Presence system.
the Tell a Friend system.

Oh how i have worked on the Xbox version....

I have put a lot of bells and whistles into the Xbox version. Stuff that just will not work on the PC. So now my artist will not be able to see everything properly, which is a pity.

Anyhow, here is the latest update notes i have for A Shooter...

  • All graphics are in and working. I believe them all to be done. however I have not done a formal pass over the game, as i will early next week. It has looked great as i have been testing stuff today.
  • .New Score animations are in and look great.
  • .New pita is in and now i got him animating (oops missed that first time round haha), he looks sweet.
  • .Carousel is now in properly under it's own alien name. Again, real sweet.
  • .The new boss health bar is simply Rock on tommy! Everyone loves it.
  • .New splash screen no longer screams at me for being so different to the title page.
  • .Added an option to the title page for telling a friend, this on the xbox brings up the message send requester. However i do not like the fomartting, but love the name. bah! more work to do there i guess.
  • .Added 'Shout your Score' button in none trial mode. This allows you to send a message to friends with your score in it at the end of each level or at game over. Great challenge idea.
  • .Added presence to various places within the game. It could be sweet to know your friend is playing 'A Shooter' and fighting a boss!
  • .Added a whole bunch of player signed in and profile privelage settings for the above two addons.
  • .Tweaked a few things, mostly animation timings and of course the new fade out on the scores.
  • .Sent messages to myself and friends. they seem to work.. Woohoo!
  • .Global highscore sharing is active on the xbox. deactivated on the PC version as it seems to kill the debugger and renderer. Bah!
  • .Sped up some rendering routines. Mainly the way they create garbage. so it was a real garbage clean up day haha. I could do more, but if noone sees slowdown, i won't bother.
To Do...
  • Still have audio to do. My audio man has been strangely quiet today. Guess i will have to do it myself tomorrow.
  • Add a new credits screen for the sponsors i am in hope of getting.
  • Pass over everything in the game and make comments. Some comments will be for the future of my games, others will be things i need to fix. Some will be if i am bored, so optional.
  • Marketing...
  •    I need to get my marketing texts ready for the Xbox description.
  •    Need to prepare the pulic announcement. Or press release.
  •    Need to get my stand ready for showing off my game.
  •    Need to get Marketing and more marketing setup before the title goes out.
  •    Get me T shirts made. Then start the competitions (get em ready, rules etc). Once more minimlism as they are so expensive.
  •    Get me a nice Sorcerygames hat, for prizes and promotional work. wonder how much they are :O
  • Sort out admission to Pax10
  • Sort out new Playtest version for Xblig
As you can tell, i have a lot to do. More than i have on this list, but some things will have to wait.
So wish me luck, and Hopefully by the middle of next week i shall be back into Playtest for the 3rd or 4th time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Once again Twitter Buddies to the Rescue

Today and in fact a few days ago i was stuggling with some Xna coding. I know i probably should read all the help and documents pertaining to the C# language and the Xna suite provided by Microsoft. But i cannot bring myself to spend the time. It would be time not spent on programming and gameplay. So what do i do when i get stuck.

Well to start off i try to find any web page with the right info on it. Then i browse the Xna forums and Faqs. But if these turn up empty, as they have recently, what should I do ?

In both these cases i ended up posting a simple question to my twitter feed. Then wait a few minutes or less, and Voila.. refresh and the answers are mine. Not just simple answers. Some people give me links and more info than i ever needed. WOOT! It is like having my own workmates, or online live help. Seome people from twitter have helped me sort design items out and color etc.

These people ROCK and deserve a lot of credit for caring about lil ole me.

Thanks eveyrone for the recent help.

This is only the recent selection of help i have received. I apologize if your name is not present and you have helped me recently. I cannot get it all right all the time. Or even some of it right some of the time. HAHA

g'night and Twitter on!

MRI number 2

So i got to have my second MRI in a 3 week period. I have to say that not having one would be more comfortable. This one of course is for my shoulder. Which is a new problem and not the same one i had the first MRI for (that was elbow).

The upshot is that i have been out of comission as far as playng games or coding for a number of weeks now. Anyone who has dislocated their shoulder i am sure will undertand and comiserate with me. The shoulder is definitely getting better. I am now off the Vicodin and onto more mellow painkillers for sleep. In fact i am gonna try to sleep tonight without any pain medication.. so wish me luck.

Today MRI got me stuffed into the machine like a sausage in a donut. If ya can picture that. Then half an hour of tortorous noises where the machine seems to be telling me there is an emergency and i should get the hell outta there. Well i stayed the course even though my shoulder was burning a bit. I sure hope this result is a good one. ie: no soft tissue damage.

Time will heal, and i hope it will heal fast. It is at least well enough to program with and do some reviews these past few days.


Global Highscores .. Again

Yup i am here to talk about Global Highscores.

The Good news is I got them working. The GREAT news is they are working. Ohh, erm.. i repeateed myself again. Oh well, they are working and good enough for three Yippees in my book.

Anyone notice how i don't capitalize my singular i's? Well it is because my Capitalizer Key is broken. My fingers just don't seem to want to work that way. I have decided that is it is gonna be that way, then so be it.

Back to Highscore sharing. I had in fact made a single error in the removal of the saving code as I suspected. It was just never getting to call Aggregatescores(). That was bad for a number of reasons, and once i added in a simple bool and set it when appropriate, voila! it worked a treat. Well not quite a treat at this point. But was apparently working from the debug output i was seeing. YAY!

Then it was onto the interface code i needed. The reason i ned this is I am gonna maintain my local highscore table, which also has other information in it, like options etc for the local player. However the sharing highscores only needed 3 elements. So a conversion function was in order. In fact it required a minimum of two. One to set the scores correctly in the global system, then one to retrieve them. This in fact took me a lot longer than i would have expected. I blame brain farts and it being late and me still being in pain from my shoulder. Anyway, i got it done, the most time being wasted on how to convert a string back to a number. This was nescessary cos the global system has it's third element be a string, and i have an int.. Well I got the conversion working, and with help from a couple of people on Twitter i managed to convert the stupid thing back. 8 c# web pages and nothing. Twitter took like 4 minutes and i was sorted.. haha!
Oh course today i realised that i could just change the class and not have the message as a string, just have it as an int. HAHA it did make me laugh at my dumbness this morning. So tonight i changed it and it is the best!

Testing the highscore sharing has been a real pain and also has wasted a number of hours. the reason is that the PC i have is running the Xbox version so i can see the output window. It is laso running the local PC version. so that means the runtime game and the debugger again.. Well once i log into windows live on the PC all hell breaks loose and my PC grinds to a halt, or the game does. So i cannot view the highscores on my PC, or even make one, ARGH!

So today i realised that i could seed the PC version with some mock scores etc. this worked freakin great. then for some reason for about 15 minutes the PC was running fast. so i got to see the highscores on both machines. YAY and WIN!

I hope everyone else has success with the Highscore component from J.Watte. It is fine even if a bit spares on comments. However it does work, and works out of the box very well if you do not need to alter it. If you are altering it and having issues, I will try to help ya best i can, pop me a message etc.

One last Note. Thanks to J.Watte for messaging me what he did. That looks like a nice way to go. I like it, though not for this project.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Player Ships

This is what i saw when i got up this morning. Ok, not quite as i got up. But soon after my PC was on and i was looking at my emails. This one made me smile in a way that can be quite rare. I expected Terry to knock out some ship graphics for me, ones that cuold even have partially resembled what i had drawn myself. I never quite expected them to lok so georgous and faithfull to my original designs. check them out below.

The main reason for different designed ships is for the colorblind people out there. Yeah it's a bit of trouble, but i am Indie and control what is going into this game. So i control the fact i wanted to do something to differentiate between player ships. How hard would it be to play a shooter like this ith a friend or wife and fine you could never be sure which your ship was ? For none colorblind peolpe like me it is easy, and i just go with what color i am.

I sure hope these ships work, as i reckon they are lovely..

Any opinions, please let me know.


Global High Score Component Issues

So here i am now getting round to putting in the Global Highscore Component by J.Watte. I tried once before but could not get my machines to talk to one another. I was trying the systemlink method so as not to buy a second Live account and creators club premium membership. So let me talk about this thing for a short while.

So far I have not really been able to find a nice resource or help for this component. Yeah, i know components are supposed to be drop in and work. However with this one that is not strictly what a dev will want to do. For example I do not want the high score savin that it does. I mean, shouldn't it just do global high score sharing? Not take over the saving of data from your game? I think it could be nice that it is in there for some people. Definitely not for me.

So i removed the high score saving code from the component. This was actually quite easy to be honest. I am pretty sure a lot of developers are going to do this. I have a good solution for memory card savings and it is a much more fancy and featured one than this component supplies. however removal was not just set a define at the top of the code page and it would remove the saving stuff. ???? At this point i am wondering why not? Why is this 2 part component not able to be switchable?

Second thing i find bad is the fact there are hardly any comments. I grabbed this as so many people are using this in their published games. Therefore it is already tested in the field of battle. If i wrote my own it would require a lot more testing. However using this is a bit like wandering in the dark. I just hope i dont run into any walls. so far I have run into a wall though.

Third thing.. I managed to glean from a number of XNA threads that it should be possible to test the sharing between an Xbox and a PC with only 1 live gold account and creators club membership. This is actually feasable by changing a few lines of code and setting up system link and removing the signed in players privelage test. Again this is NOT wrapped in something that could easily beswitched by a define. It is Also not commented. who produces code for the comunity and doesn't comment it up as much as possible?

I know it sounds like i hate this code or J.Watte. that is not the case. I do however feel like the component is really quite unfinished. What we really need is a central place that has actual help for it. But then would anyone care but a few of us devs? I am not sure.

So i finish this piece with an update to where i am right now.
  1. Last night i had my Xbox and PC running my game.
  2. Neither of them wanted to Host, so they never saw each other.
  3. There is no comment to explain how this system to supposed to have someone start as a host.
  4. I ran over the code many times and cannot see how a machine can start out as a Host.
  5. So i debugged into the Xbox and told it to host.
  6. Then the machines connected and i believe swapped scores.
  7. I added some more debug output, but I will add more as I think this is something else that is missing from the component.

So todays job is either to rewrite the host/search methods, or figure out how all those published games have worked up till now. BAH! I really thought this was gonna save me some time, so far I think it is accumulating into more time than i wanted to spend.

My new method of Host or not will be time based.
  • spend 5 minutes Hosting + everyone that connects to me will extend this by 30 seconds
  • spend 5 minutes searching + everyone time i connect i will cut the time by 30 seconds
I hope this new method will make the system more dynamic about hosting or searching. Resulting in faster connections to other people.. Of course for my testing i will have to use smaller numbers to simulate. If it lokos like it works, then i think i will head to playtest.

Thanks for listening, and if anyone has any bright ideas, especially on how hosting works, please let me know.

NOTE: I do believe the not hosting problem is somehow related to my removal of the saving code portion. I will add more information as i get it.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Some Devs just Rock

Lately i have been chatting quite a lot with various other Xblig Developers. We hav been sending little messages across twitter and back. It has been fun, it has been revealing. It has been a litle bit of an eye opener.

I have gotten closer to some of these devs because they are like me. In various ways I see what they are up to and can most definitely feel their pains and as well as their hopes and dreams.

Here are a few points..
We all want more from Xblig
We want the channel to be more successful, not just our own titles.
We see that other titles being successful has the potential to be good for our business too.
We all put our hearts and souls into our games.
Disappointment when soemthing worked on so hard is not successful.
Some level of disappointment when an Avatar zombie game that is crap sells well.
Although we do not all have the same experience or talent, effort is measurable.
We want to do more from our games, but feel that current Xblig will not support our efforts.

Ok, i am gonna stop there. I have had a lot of conversations with other devs. It has ben fun and that is something i never expected from Twitter, which at one time i hated and thought was worthless. I no longer feel that way. It has given me a way to connect with my Peers and i love it for that.

So... To all you Indie devs that I chat with each month or week on and off. Keep doing what ya doing and I wish ya all the best of luck. (yes, i know some people i am refering too are not on Xblig, but Xna and iPhone etc).

Time to work on the Global high score again :o

Monday, May 17, 2010

Side Scrolling Shooter tips

I'll start off by saying that I saw the Orthopedist today. So now i have to go for an MRI on my shoulder... Geez, i just want my arm back damnit!

Onto this post proper...

Here are the tips i have just written for my A Shooter. I know, ya all thinking that nobody nowadays should need instructions on how to play a pure shooter like this. However I beg to differ. At least a bit. I really do expect most people to know how to play a shooter, but lo and behold, i see players making the same mistakes over and over again. So this time I wrote up some tips. They are not comprehensive in any way, but they do give a good base for people to start being more successful at playing this type of pure shooter. I will of course add to these tips over the next couple of weeks. so it only take me a little time to add such things to my game, and ya never know who might actually read these instructions... I am sure hardly anyone.


1. Dodging bullets is your NUMBER 1 priority. It is survival. You cannot shoot stuff when you are dead and it is game over.

2. Never stop shooting is your NUMBER 2 Priority. You have auto fire. Though it is not as fast as you could fire, it is good to rest your hand for the next big enemy or boss encounter. Sometimes you will just get lucky and shoot a dangerous enemy as it enters the screen.

3. Shooting the most threatening enemies is your NUMBER 3 priority. Practice will tell you which enemies are most threatening. Most threatening are generally the ones that fire the most, though there are times that enemies encrouching on your ship become more of a threat

4. Collecting weapon powerups are your NUMBER 4 priority. Without collecting these you will die a slow death as enemy toughness will eventually outclass your weaponry.

5. Collecting and using smart bombs is your NUMBER 5 priority, but using them is more in line with survival, which is a much higher priority. Dying to enemy bullets while you have smart bombs in the tank is bad.

6. Learning boss patterns is your NUMBER 6 priority. Most people will die on the many bosses. Pay attention to safe spots and their patterns. Then you will proceed through levels much faster.

7. Not using smart bombs and collecting all the stars is your LAST priority. A High score is a great thing. Something to be proud of. Maximizing your score per level is important, but so much less important than survival.


As you can probably tell I realise I have already missed one important tip out, bah! I'll add it tomorrow.

What do you think is important while playing a shooter? Feel free to comment and add your two-penneth worth, or more 8]


Sunday, May 16, 2010

1000 Pieces of software

Today the news came in that XLIG now has a 1000 pieces of software on it. Simply amazing. I was also informed that this mean't that 1.8 games a day was being produced for the channel from it's inception.

This is truly amazing that this much could have been created by people and placed on this successful service.

However, it makes me wonder a few things.

So I called it all software, to avoid the distinction of calling everything an App (bad word on xblig), and the Games would have taken umbridge at that too. So Xblig is full of games and applications.

oh my wonderings...

1. How many games are there on Xblig?
2. Therefore how many are apps?
3. Which gives the channel more press coverage (remember there is no such thing as bad press!)
4. If the average is 1.8 a day. Who has been writing software and publishing it that took less than 11 hours to create? I am sure there are some examples out there, i could name a few but i won't.
5. Will i also get lucky or something and get one of my games in lights? Or do i already need a name to make a name?
6. Should I jump on the Avatar / Zombie etc bandwagon. This is one of those questions that so many Developers are asking at present. I am also asking myself... And , yeah.. I sort of hate myself for it.
7. Should I just go sensationalist with my next game?

Too many questions, too many choices... And if you get off to a good start when released, you are so much more likely to be successful. anything that misses that early boat, for whatever reason is probably doomed. sometimes you cannot control the tide..

8. When will i be able to control the release date of my game. This is still so freakin STUPID. I have money and prizes and promotions to setup and I cannot truly set them up properly till I know when the game is to come out. Give me some control. I know most of the developers couldn't give a hoot. They do not advertise Xblig, they do not advertise their game.. Hell most don't even do a stinking poor attempt at video. But some devs care, some have the understanding of marketing. Some need just a bit more help.. Please?


New Boss Health bar

This is my boss from A Shooter. This version thuogh has a brigth green bar stuck in it's nose. This is in fact the boss's health bar. It shrinks from the left to the right and changes color as the health diminishes. In much the same way your ships health bubble does. I am not sure I like this at the moment, but i have put it in to see if it is useful. so far one playtester has confirmed that they liked it. So it might be here to stay. this is a proposed change to the health bar that shows at the bottom of the screen for the boss, but so far i think both might stay. The boss health bar was highly requested and in fact I tend to like it myself. the issues with the one on the ship is that it is relatively hard to see,especially when the ship is moving, also the fact that it is so small means it does not have a lot of granularity per pixel. The big bar is way obvious and has currently 8 times the granularity. I will ponder the situation more.

I am late posting tonight as I have had some people round to chat about stuff and it was a great night chatting with them till 2:30am this morning, WOW how time can fly.

While they are here I managed to get a Four player test in on the Xbox. It went so well i am shocked. We pounded it first try on Easy mode. then I set it to hardest, and this eparated the men from the boys and it killed us all on level 9. this seemed good to me and I never saw a single bug :|  I am shocked too haha. A great fun experience. Now i just have 3 player mode to test :)


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Xbox and Xna is nice

So i got to work a bit on some bugs today for A Shooter. It was nice to solve some Xbox specific bugs. I love the way I connect to the xbox and can live debug so easily. In my professional capacity it isn't quite so easy to work with professional debug stations. So i am loving this.

Last night I did manage to play through the whole of the shooter. It was good to finish the game, however it did crash rigth at the end. After some debugging today I found it was the old save game that was loading in and breaking the new save data format. DOH! I have done that before and that is why my saved data has a version number with it, so it can easily be rejected :S.. Version numbers in such things are a great thing to do, if ya not using one. I suggest you change that now. I can for instance change my format and include a reformatter in a new version which would upgrade the save data to the new format. Very important bit of info that!

Oh, cos it crashed, i do not know what my score was.. ARGH!

Well g'night.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

the Big Daddio steps up

He sent me a sprite sheet today for his Drone Bee. This is a sprite that he will be using in his upcoming game (no name as yet). I have already placed it into the game and given him a mention on the credits page. I do have to say that I am very excited by this. A few other Devs have talked to me, but none have gone and sent me a sprite so far. I hope to have 3 other Dev game sprites in my game by the time it ships. We shall see if that is possible.
Here is what ya have been waiting for, pictures of the Bee in question and the credit I have so far given. I hope this does something, I am not sure what. Though what do we really have to lose?

It looks smaller on this shrunk picture, but it the bee swerves up and down across the screen fairly quickly, animating those buzzy wings as it goes. It is worth 20K points and a really nice full screen (nearly) effect.
This is my current work in prgress credits screen. Shrunk once more for the internet. I am Hoping that theBigDaddio can name his game before A Shooter goes to Review, sometime in the future.

So one down, hopefully 2 more to come. Three is what i feel i have the room and patience for. Patience to put into the game and test.


Once again I fail at Facebook

It seems it is finally time for me to call it quits. I have no idea how Lighthousegames manage their page. It appears to have all the functionality I would like. It does not seem to hard to get going. In fact I just got some of the stuff working on my personal page. however this is not where i want to post my blog pages and twitter feeds. All i want is simple stuff, but seems to be held away from me by the facebook business page system. One that wants businesses to be faceless and anti-social. Which of course i find funny coming from a social site.

I want my twitter to be fed to my page. (works on personal page, won't sign in on business page)
I want my blog to RSS post on my wall. (works on personal page, doesn't do anything on business page)
I want to show indie and other dev websites. (favorite pages works on personal, will not work correctly on business page).

It is a simple wont.. But one that I am unable to fulfill..

G'night from a broken man

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cross XBLIG marketing Idea

Some of my fellow developers are awesome... Yes, not all!

Anyway i am going to try something a little different in A Shooter, that is to put in a sprite from other devs upcoming games. Presuming they want this. So..

Get a sprite from their upcoming title, Place it into my game somewhere. my example is a bee from an upcoming shooter, place it into a couple of levels as a simple collectable.
Then put a special section into my credits page. Something like, 'Special Appearances', 'Bee from upcomingshooter'

This sounds cool to me, not sure if it can generate any hype, but one never knows.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wheres me Pen Drive?

It was a good ay today. Though the pain in my shoulder has not sibsided at all, I got a good nights sleep (thanks vicodin). Then today i really wanted to start on the collection of items for my marketing campaign.

So at lunch time my partner Paul drove me to Dave High Inc in Simi valley. My aim was to talk to them there about making me T-shirts and Hats with my company logo on them. I figured it would take like a couple of minutes, maybe even 5.

One hour later we left Daves shop. This guy rocks, and is talented and knowledgable. He had a lot of different style prints to show me and we got chatting about his history in animated movies and more. It was a great time and both me and Paul enjoyed meeting him, oh Dave is the owner of the shop :) while I was there I used my Pen drive to show him my artwork. And of course we left it when we went to get lunch. DOH! One final note is that Dave showed us a lot of his artwork, this guy is amazing. I am hopeful that I might at some point  get him interested in doing some artwork for one or more of Sorcerygames books.

Today was a day when I got more artwork from Terry my artist for A Shooter. He has been working on the player ship. The first iteration i didn't care for and I got to explain that i wanted the player ships to look like they are made by a different race of creatures. I compared Klingon design with Federation design. Which he took in his stride and toady produced a lovely player ship. YAY!
Player #1 ship
Lovely isn't it. I liked this ship and am now so excited to see the other players ships. I just need to get my color chart to Terry. I will do that later tonight. the other graphics he gave me are also nice and are already in the game. I hope tonight we can sort out the audio balance isues and add a couple more Sfx in the game.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Facebook here I come!

You may have read about my facebook issues over the last months. I hate the place... Well ok, i Hate the stupid interface, the way it hangs barely together. It just seems like so much broken code to me. the design is odd and a lot of the time unintuitive. Basically it is a buggy place without many options. I setup a business page for me company. This was ok till i tried hard to become a friend of another site. It wouldn't let me. I do not know why, still don't... So it's crap. However i am commited to getting the facebook page sorted. Soo here I go again, for the umpteenth time. This time though i am armed with others pages I like, so i just need to emulate them :)

Here are a few pages I wanna link to when I have me page.
RBG Entertainment
Xbox Arcade/Action & Shoot em up games from $1 (£0.85)
Xbox Indie Games
NXE Wallpapers
Xbox Puzzle and Trivia games from $1 (£0.85)
The Official Xbox LIVE Indie Games Fan Page
Xbox Indies
Dehon Freegame DehonGames

Now i know that must just be the start, So if you have a page I should link with, please let me know. I will add you to my list.

The page will be up and running once i know one thing.....

What kind of page do I create ?
  1. Business
  2. Brand, Product or Organisation
  3. Artist, Band or Public figure
I do not know! I do not understand what they mean. My current page which is broken is a business page. anyone who has any insight i would welcome the advice.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Marketing A Shooter pt?

Well here i am injured. It is hard to even write notes as to what I need to do at the moment. However typing is less painful and so maybe I should do all my work on that. Not quite sure how I will fare tomorrow at work in my day job. Heck, I cannot even drive atm..

So I have made a list of the things I reckon I need for Marketing. My marketing strategy is listed in previous posts. my short list loooks like this:-

  • Sorcery Games Logo Board 26"x5" or so.
  • A Shooter Logo Board 13"x3.5" or so.
  • Printed materials for monitor sides (for demoing my game etc) 5"x13".
  • Sorcery Games Logo T-Shrirts for prizes and to wear while promoting.
  • Sorcery Games Logo Embroidered hat, also to wear and possible prizes.
  • Table for putting my Xbox360 in/onto and lock in place.
  • Montior that can lock onto table.
  • Flyers for easy give away promotion in bags etc.
  • Info sheets for gathering emails and names for promotional activities.
  • More company business type cards with twitter/facebook/webpage listed.(thanks Michael)
I reckon for now that is it. Of course I am also still acquiring email addresses of anyone that will review my game. I will be continuing to collect those lists as I am able.

This week I start on compiling this list of items. it is very exciting, but i never realised how hard it is to find t-shirt printing and stuff. It seems they work weekly hours only, :S bah!

Once the stuff starts coming in, i shall start taking pictures to put in this blog for you all to see.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Marketing Where art Thou

The game in nearing completion. I know you have heard that before. But every day that goes by makes it more complete. When will it truly be ready. Well once i have the last few things sorted. At the moment that list is quite short.

Global High Scores
New Graphics
More balancing tweaks.

Yeah, still not got to finish the global high scores. I need to spend that money on a second creators account, and then hope that will sort out some of my issues. Noone has responded to my XNA forum posts about my issues, so it is go it alone time. I really just need time and that bit of money spending. with all the network experience I have, it should be easy enough to fixup watever is wrong. Even though this is not my code.

New graphics are coming along and I am putting them in slowly. at the moment slowly is an ssue i face in everything. Ahh well.

Balancing is something that is never done. A job I guess. It will be as good as it is when it goes live. But at the moment I am quite confident the balance is pretty darned good.

Still i put more tweaks in today, balance and graphics wise. The game is getting there.. so i need to get on with marketing.. But now my arm hurst (shoulder).. so the title of this post will have to wait to be fulfilled tomorrow.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Lucky and Jovial

People have commented on how Jovial i am today. even though my arm is in a sling and it hruts me to walk etc. I even got a sprained ankle yesterday while getting out of the car. some people say injuries etc come in threes, so i hope i am done with this last ankle one.

Anyway, they seem to be quite surprised by my chipper attitude. I have to admit to being quite jovial too. Even if in pain and walking with a limp. The reason is simple.

I was lucky.. I am lucky...

When i hit the fence and is bent the way it did, it was my arm one way vs my head and neck the other. This was a truly bad situation where something had to give. Well i am soooo excited that it was my shoulder and not my neck. That would have been truly serious, whereas my shoulder will just take a month to heal, or thereabouts. Now for when i can play tennis again i do not know. But it would most certainly have ben a longer layoff with a neck injury.

Sometimes you have to focus on the positive and not the negative of the situation. That also happens to include XBLIG and making Indie games. So far I am not usccessful, yet I believe there is more to come.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dislocated Right Shoulder

Yup, last night I had a collision with a wire mesh fence. I am 235 pounds and was travelling at great velocity. When i hit the fence it bent lik a reed in the wind. As my arm was upwards and my head downwards it managed to flex enough to dislocate my arm. I yelled as it popped out. It was painfull. Thern as i bounced off the springy fence i landed on the foor and it fortunately popped my shouldert back in. I hurt once more.. Yup i yelled again.

So i am not going to be writing any epic blog posts for a while. It was my right shoulder and i am right handed. Bah!. Yes i have typed all this left handed. It is slow and awkward. Work is also off the cards too, as is playing my game.

G'night all.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

No blog today :(

Well, as much as Rob would love to be chatting today - unfortunately he had a run in with a fence tonight playing tennis and the fence won out!  He is currently bandaged and iced.  We will be assessing the damages in the morning as at some point he dislocated his shoulder - but he says that popped back in.  Hopefully it is nothing major and he will be back in the land of Blog soon.
Have a great weekend all!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Mate Terry

My mate Terry is a great asset to any creative endeavour. He knows stuff, he accepts limits, he comes up with great ideas. He also knows how to draw. I have to admit I love working with people who as well as being talented just Get it. You know, get what page your on, or where ya coming from. They may not always agree with your reasoning etc, but it is great when they understand ya. It can certainly make development easier.

I love the way currently he keeps coming up with simple and yet smart ideas and observations. He will make my product so much better than it is already. Everyone needs a workmate like Terry. Someone who i have not had the pleasure of working with for nigh on 18 years. Good friends, good professionalism and good times.

But I did not write this post just to Brag about how good and professional my friends are. I also wanted to show you shome of his graphics.

Fodder alien

Main fighter

Tracking fighter

This is the New Boss!

The style is there, and along with consistent graphical stylings, this game is gonna look real sweet.


1 Dollar game... Of course ?

So here I am working on what is supposed to be a 1 dollar game. Already I have overspent my time in rather a big way. But i make games to have a certain minimum quality. I also make them cos it fullfills some part of my creative soul. I really love it when people play my games. So far I have not been particularly lucky in that last regard.

My argument for games on any service is that I write games for people to play. However if noone downloads them or plays them, why do I bother ? Luckily for me I have a strong sense of worth (rightly or wrongly). I feel that one day people will see my games, especially an under the radar game like Pellmell, and see just how well put together this game is. Then after that maybe they will just how unique the levels and scroll control gameplay really is. I think this all keeps me going, as as the fact I need to create something. One day It could just possibly turn into a real business for SorceryGames, but till then I will keep doing conversions and semi-original stuff and getting paid for it.

So what price for games? Recently there have been some real stonkingly great games released on XBLIG. They seem to have all hit the 1 dollar price point. Oh woah is me. We have set a precident and now noone dares step over the magic 1 dollar mark for their games. So the quality of 1 dollar games goes up and up. Now competing with such is really hard. Just how do you make a 3 dollar game when 1 dollar games have at least 3 dollars worth of value in them? I am stuck on this conundrum now. The sad part is that I beleive I will also go for 1 dollar. This is also a travesty and my only feeling is that I have no choice. The choice has been made by my Peers, in the search for more downloads and popularity (I do not blame their logic at all). Yes, you heard that right. I do not blame them at all, the system is setup to reward pure numbers. Hopefully one day this will change. Before we all lose our own backing, trying hard  to keep financially supporting Xblig buyers.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Pax10 Research and Fun

Well i spent way longer than I should to validate a mere 50 bucks entry fee into the competition. However I always try to be diligent. In this case it was to see if I had any chance with A Shooter. Ya know what.. I think I do. These people really prize playability above all else it seems. Their PAX10-2009 entries were all great games with so much going for them play wise, if not all of them looked amazing.

Here is what their Pax10-2010 says:-
The PAX 10 is a showcase of independent games to be exhibited at the Penny Arcade Expo. Taking submissions until June 15th, our group of 50 industry experts will cull the selection of games into what they collectively feel are the ten best in regard to gameplay and overall fun-factor.

So there ya go, the Yellow highlighted part tells me to go for it. This means of course that the stage I am curently in (make the game more fun etc) is a real meaningful thing to do.

But what is fun ?
This is a tough one at times. One that can send a sane game designer batty. I believe my game has a lot of gameplay. I also think it is quite good fun. However I also feel that more fun can be added. So here are a few things i have done. Starting with the latest :O

I added a star, well i added a number of them. They scroll slowly down the level and you can collect them. YAY collectibles! However this was not enough fun. so after talking to me mate Jeff i have gone back and altered them. They used to just give 1000 points. Now for more fun i made them get incremental points per level. so now the more you collect the WAaay more points you get for the later ones. They can top out at 10K points. I like them.

I have writen a bit about another fun item, which is to play with the starfield. It can get quite crazy with Gigantic stars. Still this is value added fun. So a word to the wise. Finish your game, and in those last few weeks (yes WEEKS!), make it as much fun as you can.

Ok, i am done for tonight, So


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pointless work and Options?

I am sure some people will think the last 30 minutes I spent coding in my new game a pointless and waste of time. I do not agree with this of course for a number of reasons. Oh, first I should tell you what I spent that time on I guess.

I have added a couple of new Options to my Options screen in A Shooter. Here is a picture of the Options screen as it is Now.
A Shooter Options page as of 5/2/2010

As you can see there are quite a few of them. The new ones are the bottom two. Both are related to the starfield. I have put them in because I think they are both fun items. They do not alter the gameplay in any way, but People can play with the way the game looks, and how can that not be fun? I have done similar but more over the top things in some past games. Krakout had some of the wackiest phsychadelic modes I have ever come across and that was a breakout type of game. More of the Jeff Minter style color cycling etc. Anyway, why did I add the functionality? For two reasons, One is that it is more fun with them. Two I really wanted to see what colored stars looked like, and so wrote the code. Sometimes when you write code you really want written, it is like it didn't take any time at all. On another plus side of course I now have more options making the game look bigger than it did.

You might have noticed the order of the options and wondered why I have not ordered them to be a cone shape or something artistically appealing. The order is denoted by how important I think an option is. So difficulty mode has to be Major, followed by volume controls. My new Fun options are least important, so go at the bottom.


Work to no avail

I worked hard yesterday on some of the stuff i have to do. I really wanted to get to some of the new games in Playtest on XBLIG, but was unable too. After spending way too many hours trying to get my wordpress blog up and running on my web site.

I really want a much more seamless integration of my web site and my blog. Then my few advertisers will be a lot more happy I am sure. However editing the look of the wordpress site is not a fast and furious thing. It does have an importer that will read blogger into it. However it does not keep the html formatting. Ok, so who wrote that crap. C'mon, i can copy and paste the html in, but i have 189 posts. So i am now gonna have to do them all manually. WTF?!!!

So no real Blog posts as the work in progress was quite long and tedious. Here is the link if ya wanna see how far i have gotten.

New Blog


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wow is a great Game

Everyone knows World of Warcraft is a great game I suppose. By now I am sure there are very few people that have not played at least the Trial version. What people need to consider though is just how many games there are within the very large expanse that is Wow.

Tonight instead of coding or marketing or anything to do with work. I played wow with my son who is 10 years old. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable time pounding through levels as it can only be done in the new wow. We work very well together and it reminded me just how much I love to play games with other people. You see I am not as much of a solo player as I used to be. It maybe that I have less time, so I want it to me more than me locked away by myself. It happens that SorceryGames games are made to be multiplayer. It is something I wholeheartedly believe in. I always wonder why it is so poorly supported by the bigger games. They just seem to expect you to go and buy a second console and second version of the game. Now does that seem fair ?

I will always try to remedy this situation, and I applaud any other Devs that do the same. Don't get me wrong, there are different challenges when combining multiplayer games into the mix. I think they are something that needs more attention, more time and concern. I have to add here that I also hate games that are only multiplayer. This seems like a bad coding example, and does not allow a player to improve their skills to be either a more competent partner, or better rival. Games need a single player, but can swell in greatness with the proper multiplayer aspects added.

Examples of such:-

A kingdom for Keflings. What a nice game that my children love. I bought this so my children could play it together. Instead one takes a back seat while one drives. This is nuts, and I wonder who could have made that decision. I know they say the sequel will address this, but I do wonder why it was not in the original.

Castle Crashers. Ok, i know this is popular. Ever wondered why? This game allows any players to join together. It covers the joining process with such ease. Enticing the player to play with friends. And if you don't have any, then it will help you find teammates to play with. That rocks and I believe along with the original graphic design, MADE this game what it is today.

My games cannot have that kind of time spent on them. My games are also a lot smaller in scope. But I will hold to these principals wherever I can. When I finally one day get the technology of remote multiplayer added to my Library, you shall see that in all my games as well.

Till then, party on with a friend and enjoy the Losses and Triumphs together.