Monday, December 31, 2012

Updating a Web Site, important?

I do wonder quite often, just how important is it to update my main web site. Of course I offset not updating that web site by actually using this Blogging site a Lot more often.

Still, all the advice you see about getting noticed tends to revolve around keeping people informed, keeping them appraised of what exciting things are going on in your development life.

I'll be honest, I don't think it really makes much difference if your audience is not already there, OR if you are not going out and finding an audience. Like me and 99% of Indie games developers, we don't get much time to go and grow our audience. Most of those Indies that have grown their audience seem to me to be a number of people bandied together to create their games. I do not have the luxury of multiple people working on my team, or not lately anyway. Still I do wonder if I should spend more time getting people interested in what I do instead of actually doing it, sic.

Back to the point of this post...

So how often should I be updating my main web site. I last updated it about a month ago when I finally got my iOS Book Apps out. Maybe I should now litter it with my current development of HoopFighter, as it does star Shaq and that may make more visits for my site. Still, I am not sure it has any real value at present. Maybe when I have a real in game shot to show off or something.

Probably still worth a mention however,

I do wonder how important other small Indie devs think updating their web site is, maybe they have had more success at attracting an audience?

Da Voodoochief

Friday, December 28, 2012

Super Duper Sprite Atlas

This is my current Sprite Atlas,

As you can see it is getting a lot more full, and a lot more complicated. Those frames of Kal are 256x256 original sized sprites, yet when trimmed they pack into this texture really well. In fact I would only be able to get 8 x 8 = 64 frames of Kal onto a 2048x2048 texture like this one if not trimmed. Yet trimmed I have 45 and a bunch of other stuff, and STILL nearly half the texture free for more frames.

I have also altered my sprite effects routines and they now work with the atlas as well. In fact the changes have made the effects drawing more efficient and less complicated. Which I am very happy about.

If you see the Hoops Fighter Logo in Red, that is because I am now developing on my laptop.. yes, even posting this via the laptop. So the license is not setup on this machine. Soon, but fortunately Andreas at is very generous and allows anyone to play with the texture packer for as long as I want in this mode (random red sprites).

Loving the texture more and more,

Laters, Gotta get back to implementing some bad guys.

Da Voodoochief

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Trimmed animating sprite offsets

With all the headway I have made with the exporter for the Texture Packer ( I am now setup that ALL my sprites come in from the texture atlas. This has caused some issues of course, related to animating sprites and trimming them.

I have the main hero sprites running in a 15 frame cycle. All his frames are rendered inside the middle of an area of the sprite, as you see below.

Then we have another part of the animation where Kal takes up a whole different area of the sprite, as you can see below.
When these are trimmed only the actual rectangular area containing colored pixels is placed into the new Texture Atlas image. Which means that the size of the sprites for rendering has of course changes.

However we also need to know where the new center offset is relative to the original frame. I need this as the artist has painstakingly placed each animation frame relative to its previous one. So in a flipbook style the animation looks like it should. However IF you render these trimmed sprites from center with no offset, you get a Very awkward looking run cycle. In fact what happens is poor Kal Bobs up and down and backwards and forwards, like he is stuck on a Yo-yo string.

To fix this I could have a table of X and Y offsets I can apply to the rendering position. However I hate that solution. I want the export to have all the information I require to render the sprites correctly. Now as it happens the Texture Packer can export the offsets for me. Yahoo I thought, only to find later there is an actual bug that means it is currently not outputting.

After a quick Tweet or two with Andreas (the coder of Texture Packer) he came to the same conclusion I did, that I should be able to calculate it from some other data that the exporter can export. So off I went to make it happen. In the end it was very easy.

 Here is where I calculate the top corner offset (my renderer uses the top left corner as its origin, so I compensate by using my xpos and simply minusing half the width...) 
int16 xOrigin = sprite_atlas[_sa_index]->offset[0];
int centerOffsetX = (int)(((float)(sprite_atlas[_sa_index]->originalSize[0]/2) - xOrigin) * _scale);

Using this I can render my sprite, scaled or not at the correct location. Looks good too and smooth.

Next up is to sort out the offset for the X flipped sprites.. bah! Always more to do.

Da Voodoochief

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Texture Packer pt 2

I got some very quick help when I posted about the Texture Packer and the changes I was making to its exporter etc. I received info from Andreas himself (the auther)..

All this addressed a couple of issues I was having.
  1. EdDiGeronimo from Twitter told me about the 'Trimmed Filenames' so I could use those and it has the '.png' removed. Less manual labour is great!
  2. EdDiGeronimo also told me about the rotation not being a variable rotation, it is in fact true or false and gets rotated by 90 degress. Depending on your exporter settings this could be CW, or CCW.
  3. I did get a notice from Andreas (@codeandweb) saying my request for multiple sprite sheet exports is in the works and will most likely be in version 3.1. SWEET! I only have a simgle sprite sheet at the moment, So no real issue, but this should chnage in a month or so.
(side note: EdDiGeronimo told me he has been using the Texture Packer for a while, and cleverly used a Python script on the output to create binary data files to use at load time. A very nice solution, but I really want the output of the exporter to be used as is, no more steps.)

I have made great progress with the exporting template now. It produces a nice '.cpp' file and I have it placed into the game code. I had a few teething syntax errors but nothing earth shattering at all. So a few quick edits and it is done. Only...

Well I really like to reference assets by UID or Defined name (usually setup from an enum or some such). So I created a section in the exporter to create a nice enum that matches the order of the atlas information. This has worked wonderfully, only now I really need to export just that section as a header file, so all my code can use it and simply call my renderSprite function with the enumerated value they want to render.
For now I will simply cut and copy this section into a hand made header file.

I have not managed to spend any time on this since Monday, otherwise I am confident it would be done. Instead I am rebuilding my kitchen and also my new Laptop has arrived, which I am busy setting up for development purposes... So I am making no progress, gah!

I'll update when I get back to coding Hoopfighter again (hopefully on the new machine and tomorrow!)

Da Voodoochief

Monday, December 17, 2012

Texture Packer for C++ is the place to go for an excellent texture packer. It will pack a bunch of sprites together andexport a new Texture Image alongside a nice texture Atlas.

I want to use this kind of functionality for several reasons listed here:
  1. Less textures to have to load
  2. Faster load times due to less texture to have to load
  3. Less memory usage. Packed textures will take up less memory
  4. Simplify sprite lists in memory (exporting is so much easier to manage)
Andreas has created a wonderful tool that runs on several systems. In my case I am using the PC version. The tool offers many options and my favourite has to be the Trim option. This will pack all your sprites as close as possible to each other, whether they be wide or tall or simply small. This creates a wonderful saving of memory and allows me to get more sprites into a single sprite sheet. As you will see in the next couple of example images of the texture packer itself, along with some of my Kal sprites from Hoopfighter for iPad.

In this image above you can see a number of the options available to this tool. In this case You also see Kals side on running animations all nicely laid out on this sprite sheet. Taking up a considerable amount of it as well.
Now this second image above us show what happens when I click the Trim button. It basically removes white space from the sprites, but will not overlap x or y of images. As you can clearly see, this has saved a lot of space on the sprite sheet. Leaving me with space for more haha!

As it happens this lovely tool come packed with several export options. Xml to specialized versions for various SDKs. It does Not however yet cover Marmalade, my SDK of choice. The other thing it doesn't do as yet is export the sprite atlas data to C++. Now  I would lvoe it to do marmalade natively, yet to be honest C++ is widely used and is not problem for me with Marmalade.

So what am I going to do about this? Use the Xml, well NO, I won't be doing that. Parsing something at run time is not my way when I know already what the assets are.  Something Rigid like assets for this game are not something I would want to parse every time it is run. So instead I really need something I could simply include into my code. the answer of course is to have a '.cpp' file created with all the appropriate data and structs or class built in.

To do that Andreas has created a Template style exporting system. Now I do not have any real instructions (I perused but never found them), but I am always game for playing with stuff. So I tracked down one of the otehr exporters I felt created soemthing close to what I would want to use. In the case I decided upon the BatteryTech_SDK exporter. and it exports a texture atlas that looks like this...
btx = 1.0
texture.assetname = test_bt.png
texture.width  = 2048
texture.height = 2048

image.assetname = Kal_Run_side_0000.png
image.uvs = 0.4072265625 0.6875 0.5390625 0.6875 0.5390625 0.90625 0.4072265625 0.90625
image.rotated = false
image.trimmed = true
image.origsize = 512 512
image.offset = 120 61
image.trimmedsize = 270 448

image.assetname = Kal_Run_side_0002.png
image.uvs = 0.16015625 0.6982421875 0.3095703125 0.6982421875 0.3095703125 0.921875 0.16015625 0.921875
image.rotated = false
image.trimmed = true
image.origsize = 512 512
image.offset = 91 50
image.trimmedsize = 306 458

Not exactly sterling C plus plus eh? Well if ya look again at the second image above, you will see that I am exporting the data using my new and shiny 'C Plus Plus' exporter. and what I get looks like this...
char tp_version[] = "cpp = 1.0";
char textureName[] = "test_batterytech.png";
int  textureWidth  = 2048;
int  textureHeight = 2048;

struct  sSPRITE_INFO
 char name[32];
 int size[2];
 float rotation;
 float texturePoints[4];

static const sSPRITE_INFO *test_batterytech.png[] =


sSPRITE_INFO  Kal_Run_side_0000.png = {
  "Kal_Run_side_0000.png", // name
 { 0.4072265625, 0.6875, 0.5390625, 0.90625 }, // TexturePoints
 false, // rotation
 { 270, 448 }, // size

sSPRITE_INFO  Kal_Run_side_0002.png = {
  "Kal_Run_side_0002.png", // name
 { 0.16015625, 0.6982421875, 0.3095703125, 0.921875 }, // TexturePoints
 false, // rotation
 { 306, 458 }, // size

Not yet correct, but getting along very nicely. As I see it I have a couple of real issues left.
  1. get rid of those .png suffixes all over the place. I will try this tomorrow anyway with those manually removed.
  2. Rotation is true or false, and yet I really need a rotation value, Degrees/Radians or whatever.
  3. As this will be going into the Sprite drawing helper routine I use for rendering sprites. I do not have to have a '.hpp' file, I can simply include this one directly. Not the best coding practice, but pretty darned efficient.
So I am very excited to do this. Andreas is very responsible and responsive and I am sure these last items on my list will be resolved very soon.

With that, I am going to bed,
Gnight all,
Da Voodoochief

Friday, December 14, 2012

ahh Kal not in 3D

I have been working on a new title for the iPad called Hoopfighter. A Soon to be released game based upon the franchise of a Movie, Web comic and more (yes, more to come!) You can check it out at the address below, or the Facebook page also listed below.

The plan was to have a nice 3D rendered version of Kal, the main character in our story and also the main character in the iPad game (the dude you play as). However we ran into some complications as so often happens when starting working with a new team on something 3D. There is always some hurdle or other slowing progress and more. Below in this first image you can see that Kal as rendered in this viewer has a few problems. Notably he head and right arm are missing, also his left hand appears to have some very strange fingers.

I looked over the skeleton and also the geometry. It was not easy to spot anything really wrong. One of the problems is that this model has 65 bones, and sorting through 65 bones takes quite some time. It is simply too big and we needed to make a much smaller/simpler example with this kind of error. then we would be able to move forwards once that is fixed. However the original model was modelled in Max using something called Cat. This means that its rig did not use actual bones, but instead used objects. Alas the exporter from Marmalade exports Bones and although it would export these objects, it would not see any bones to export, so it simply won't export them. This means we would have to completely re-rig the Kal and other models... Something my friend Scott did for this test of Kal. Simply put.. it would be too expensive and time consuming.

Still I was playing with the model and determined to figure out what had happened to his head. As you can see in the next image, I found it!

But I have to say this is not quite as it seems. To make the head show up, I attached the head to the left ankle bone, and hey presto there it was.. in its rightful place oddly enough. I feel that maybe the transform stack was not cleared before exporting from Max, though I am no Max expert, it is a problem we have faced in the past with our own exporters.

Now though.. this is on the shelf as a 3D game and instead we will be going to pre-rendered imagery. Which will be a lot bigger and a lot more cumbersome for me as the programmer (blended animations anyone?).

It will look awesome pre-rendered though I am very excited about that.

Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I have my Win 8 Phone

I received my new phone on Monday, just 9 days after I lost my last phone in the desert. My last phone was a classic clam shell phone and certainly not smart enough not to get lost (ok, maybe it was my fault).

Still I now have upgraded to a real smart phone, the T-Mobile Nokia 810 windows 8 phone. First impressions are that the OS is very VERY like the windows 7 phone my wife has had now for a number of years, and I will add is very happy with. So happy in fact she didn;t want to upgrade to Win8 phone haha.

I have been busy trying to setup the phone and get accustomed to its way of behaving etc. Now the thing is I am getting along well with the phone. Heck, once I found it ran Win 7 apps and games I went to the store and bought, or downloaded (some are free) my games I did through XNA for the win 7 phone. Yes they work great!! However I am very excited to update these games. It will mean reprogramming them from C# to C++, but I do not think that will be to bad. It wasn't when I did just that with Hot Chicks the Card game. I will of course be able to simply rebuild that distribute to a win 8 machine. Or I will when...

Marmalade get their new version to support Windows 8 Phones natively. They say they will release this version in December sometime, yet I find myself tense as I await this new version of their SDK. ( ).

I will say one thing that strangely saddened me at first was....
I did not expect win7 phone games to play on the win8 phones. I thought this would mean if I could get my games out quickly I would be a fish in a small pond. Now I realise I am the same sized fish I always was within the windows phone pond.. and oddly enough it is disappointing. Probably because I would not call my 3 win7 phone titles a success (or even close).

Laters all,
Da Voodoochief

Monday, December 10, 2012

Buying Dev Machines

How does a home Indie Games dev justify spending the bucks on hardware?

Generally today we can work cross platform (I certainly do using This means we need as many pieces of hardware to test on that we would like to publish on. that is where the dificulty is, or it is difficult if you are not wealthy.

For example....
  • iOS (4.2 and above)
  • Android (2.1 and above)
  • BlackBerry PlayBook OS
  • bada (2.0)
  • Windows desktop (7, XP3)... full-screen and windowed applications
  • Mac OS X desktop... full-screen and windowed applications
  • LG Smart TV (for Professional licensees and LG registered developers)
That is a list of supported platforms for Marmalade. If I wanted to test my game on enough of these machines to feel comfortable (differing screen aspect ratios and sizes matter). I would have to own a fair number of tablets/phones etc.

The cost of having a selection of the above must be well over 3000 dollars. OUCH'

Currently I own... (that I work on)
  • Kindle Fire
  • iPad2
  • iPod3
  • iPod4
  • PC
  • Android phone (ice cream sandwich) (gingerbread phone just broke!!)
  • Windows 7 Phone
  • Xbox 360
So the thought of buying a Blackberry playbook at the moment is frightening. But also Windows Phone 8 has gone Native development, which means Marmalade is going to be supporting that platform as well. ARGHH!!! Now I need a windows 8 phone (side note: I already have several games out on Win7 Phone via XNA).

Luckily for me my new phone that I hope will arrive today will be said hardware. So expect a new version of Hot Chicks the Card game and also my Book apps to appear fairly quickly. (ok, so not lucky at all, I opted for this phone simply because it is easier to justify the cost as a dev machine).

Jst maybe,being a Big fish in a small pond might pay off for a while.

Laters y'all,
Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Plumbing vs Coding

I like Plumbing... I also dislike plumbing.

One thing about plumbing is you have some time to think about stuff, like why it is I like it, yet dislike it as well. What I discovered was a bit of a revelation, but also a lesson I try to adhere to when coding. It all breaks down to one word 'Granularity'

I like using my hands to fix stuff and build stuff, it is such a great break from using only my mind to solve problems (like my day job). So why would I not like plumbing? I learned to do soldering and also what compression joints were used for many years ago while helping my Dad rebuild our house. Since then I have fixed up my own houses and usually do a good job.

This particular job had 7 soldered joints in it, the first one being a T that I cut into an existing cold water pipe to fit, then I would be able to create a spur to a new tap for the refrigerator. Now 7 joints is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, only any joint that leaks will be depressing. If a joint leaks you have to clean out the water from the pipe and dry it, then sand, flux and re-solder it. Once again turn on the water to see if the leak is fixed. As you can tell there is no real granularity as you have to complete the whole pipe with all it's joints to know that it is watertight.

Now lets look at me coding.

When I write a system, say a manager class and its objects class. I will write the manager class and make sure it compiles and links. Once that is done I will run its update and draw and setup functions. Once this works at runtime I will move on to its child class of objects and do the same thing. In all about 6 steps or close to it. Yet I was able to test each one, without breaking anything, or getting anything else wet, like a water leak would.

That is why I prefer coding to plumbing.

GRANULARITY Rocks... use it, it is a tool!

Da Voodoochief

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Day at the Zoo published

Phew. apple has just passed my new Book App 'A Day at the Zoo' and is now available on the Apple Appstore along with the update to '5 Golden Coins'.

I was busy this weekend updating the two web sites for these apps. It was sort of fun, but I have to say that using the official 'Download from ???' style badges are two things. Great and annoying. As my games are available in 3 places now (google play, Amazon app store and Apple Appstore), it is a pain to place that many logos of their sizes onto a web page. The web page is a bit tighter as it has so much on it, but I managed to Cram it all on there, as you will see if ya clock that link.

On the other hand with more space like on the official books page at you will notice how much better set out and pleasing the look is. No longer do those images overpower or clutter the screen. Still good to have something official to link with though.

Now I simply need to find someone to market these two book apps to the correct demographic (parents) and we shall see how it goes. If I can do well enough to pay for the third book I would consider that a success.

I am hoping this Xmas that people with buy my Book/App as a present for their friends or for their nephews and nieces etc.

Heres hoping,
Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Prototyping a Game

I love prototyping a new game. However the prototype is not where the development of the game really started. Heck I don't start coding till I already have a good idea of how all the gameplay and fun will be attained. So the prototyping in reality is the realization of the fun gameplay ideal I have in my head, or on paper. It is more the proof of concept than the idea itself, it is also not a full game.

So once I have the idea of the game in my head I tend to put it down onto paper. This is not always a set regimen either, it varies how much I write on the type of the game and most importantly my familiarity with the genre. Shooters for example I tend to write less, but platform games I will write more.

Once on paper I start deciding how I will code the game if I go ahead. This always leads me to start actually coding the game and therefore the prototype. The prototype can be simple as well, as I only really need to prove to myself that the game is viable. Sometimes the control will simply not come along nicely and I will then abandon the prototype. If as is usual the control scheme feels good, then I get all excited and need to move along as fast as possible.

This is when it is exciting as I code in the details of the game to expand the prototype and start in on making it a complete game.

Da Voodoochief

Monday, November 12, 2012

Web Pages updated

I have been busy and now I have 'A Day at the Zoo' published into the Amazon Appstore and also on Google Play. These ar e both active and to go along with this, I have the Book App submitted to iTunes alongside a new revamped version of '5 Golden Coins'. I hope these two can come out fairly soon.

Once these are through it will finally be time to get some marketing going. However the two people I had researched have disappeared and so I will have to look around once more.

Other than that I have been experimenting on a fun side scrolling racing and collection game. This uses one of the important mechancis of my Xbox360 game Pellmell. This time I hope more people will see this feature and understand how cool it is.

Da Voodoochief

Friday, November 9, 2012

Odd happening with In game Ads

One of my Android games is Ad supported. Though in truth the small amount of money it has made my in the last 6 months is so low, I should have sold it for 99 cents and a single sale a month would have been better. Still the game seems to me to be fairly popular and generates about 1K Ad requests  a day. Still only pennies per month.

Well about 4 weeks ago I got a nice informative email from Inner-Active. It informed me that due to complaints it was going to cancel my gamea ccount. This game is 'Hot Chicks TCG', and as you can see has some bikini clad women in it. So Ok, np, if you really want to do that go ahead (not that I could have stopped them anyways).

Just as this happened I started receiving emails from someone at Inner-Active asking if they could buy up all my advertising in ALL my products. Well erm.. The main one I have you just cancelled... This was odd. So I simply ignored the email as any sane person would. Still each week since then I have received more emails. Last week I decided to tell this salesman about Hot chicks and what happened to its account. I explained very simply I have no other ad revenue etc.

Well I got a reply a few days later telling me that was great, and could I supply my daily views and average ecpm so they could work out a deal with me. :O

Now I am back to igbnoring him, as he obviously did not read my reply!

Laters all,
Da Voodoochief

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Day at the Zoo now being submitted

It has taken me way longer than it should have. So many distractions and so much work for my day time job. Still I now have the new Book App done and so far I have submitted it to Amazon Appstore. I expect it will take approximately a week to get through fail or succeed.

tomorrow night I will attempt to submit what is most likely to be the most troublesome sku. The iOS (oh crumbs, i cannot use the OS name to describe these products!) Well phooey, I am here! Still the iPad version looks great, but I have not managed to test it on an iPhone 5 yet as I do not have my friends UDID at this time. Soon I expect. Still I also need to upload the new 5 Golden Coins book app as well. Never any rest.

Once all the version are published, including of course the simple to publish Google Play version, I will then go in search of soem cheap but effective marketing person to help me out. I will hopefully have some great news on that front at some point in the future.

For now, I am happy to be finally at the end of this App. Maybe now I can get on more seriously with an App that has actual gameplay?

Laters all,
Da Voodoochief

Friday, October 12, 2012

Artists should do art, not programmers!

Ahh, what a waste of time. My time, my Precious time!

What happened I hear you ask.. Well let me tell ya a story (short one, honest ;)

A Few nights ago I am working on 'A Day at the Zoo', and it is going well. we are nearly finished with the App and I get all excited. I have already made a list of all the final changes required to finish the app, and well the list is not very long. So while my artist Nathan is busy working over the last few pages and any mods I need to the existing images. I decided to help out where I can.

Now for me I have some audio work to redo, but cannot get to that till Sunday (for various reasons of the voice actor being away!). So what am I to do.. Wait? lol, that is not likely. Not when i am this close!

So one of the items on the list is the title buttons. I have my generic grey ones on there, and they look so drab and dreary. As I had previously had some success in making buttons for the 5 Golden Coins app, I decided I could do it again... Woe is me, what a fool I was.

I decided as this app is about a Zoo I would take animal skin textures such as a snake skin, or leopard skin or even a bald eagles feathers and meld them onto a button. Well the final result is that I have 3 buttons on the title page and each one with a different texture.. It looks freakin horrid! What a mess.

Still, the only way to go from here is upwards, lol.

The moral is, don't waste my time when I have a talented artist who can do a great job, and go do something more useful instead.

Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

JSIL? Xna->Html5?


Yes, really!.. Linky Here

There is a cross compiler that can take my XNA C# code and make it work in a browser.. Hmm, sounds really tempting to try. If only I had more time. Though If i did do this conversion, I am not certain what I would do with it.

Place it on my web site, so people can play my games in the broswer? Well that could be good for drawing people to my site. But I would have to suffer the increased badwidth requirements and so might feel that I was paying for people to play my game, not an ideal situation. Though peolpe playing my game is an exciting thought.

Maybe if it works I can place it on a flash/html5 game site and have it use their bandwidth and yet still have people (probably more) playing it. Now that sounds like a better plan.

I do wonder how much work this would be for one of my games, such as A Shooter or Aceball. I do not think that HTML5 wouls manage Pellmell, that game is just too intense with so many freaking crazy sprites and effects going off. Heck even the sounds might send it througha  loop, haha!

If I get some time, I might try and set this up.. Though if anyone would like to volunteer :)

This is still exciting news though, very cool.

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

AdatZ getting closer

My artist Nathan has been busy these last few weeks and been working hard on the artwork for A Day at the Zoo. In fact the game is getting really close to being in final testing (YAY!).

All I have to do now is get the title/cover picture and tidy up some odds and ends and some audio anomalies and then get the whole thing setup with all it's different sized icons etc and it will be ready.

Doesn't sound like much does it :)  Hopefully it will be fully done by the end of this weekend and I can submit it to Google Play and Amazon apps and the Appstore. Good times. And on that front I have just submitted the 5 Golden Coins book/App update to Google apps and also re-submitted to Amazon, and I already heard that they will be publishing it tomorrow sometime, Also a big YAY! Now I simply have to get the new iOS update sorted out, maybe tomorrow eh :)

It is all coming together which is nice as once the ADatz book/app is done and released I can get some PR going and hopefully get it all promoted and maybe, just possibly get seen... One never knows eh!

Wish my luck,
Da Voodoochief

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Updating Game Screenshots

Yeah, It is true. This is what ya have to do when ya change the look of ya game. Though in all honesty the new look is so much more professional looking than the old one. Now i have the job of updating all the screenshots wherever they may be..

Lets revue:
On my web site.
On the ABC Books web site at .
On the Google Play 5GC page.
On the Amazon 5GC page (not yet approved).
On the Apple AppStore 5GC page.

I will add that I also need a few extra screenshots now for the Appstore as their new iPhone is a different aspect ratio.

All in all I find this kind of thing a bit tedious. But it has to be done. So far I have completed the Google Play pictures. Next up is Amazon.

Meanwhile I am updating the second Book App code to match this new look from 5 Golden Coins. Maybe I'll get away with only one set of screenies for this game :)

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Marmalade License, Paid for


Is that your question? Why have I paid 499 dollars for the pleasure of using a cross platform development system? Or maybe it is Why have I paid for this Particular cross platform development system.

To answer the first question you never asked. I will say that I really need to update my Games and Apps, and so I needed to renew my Indie License.

Maybe the Why is asking about why the 499 license and not the 149 dollar license (License info). That is a fairly easy thing for me personally to answer. The main differences between these licenses is that the Indie will let me publish to all the machines and devices covered, yet the standard covers less. (Supported Platforms)

Why buy a development SDK anyway. Why not simply use Java and Objective C or maybe HTML5 or some of the other options and SDKs. Simply put, I feel this is the most powerful and easy to use cross platform SDK currently available. Yes I tried some of the others, and yes they are ALL pretty darned good.

This you might find great news. As I did not really HAVE to buy my own license. I could have gotten into this most excellent new program that will GIVE you a License and Blackberry Playbook, though you will have to apply etc, check out this Link BlackBerry.

Laters All,
Da Voodoochief

Monday, September 17, 2012

Staying true to your Vision

I was trying to get Five Golden Coins into the Marmalade Apps Program and I have had several nice discussions about my app and what they would like to see etc. I have also made several enhancements and changes to the App already to try and help me get it accepted.

Well since the last correspondence with them was them asking for several more changes, and ones that would change the nature of my app completely, well. It is time to call it, and move along. I really wanted the power of marketing that their program would bring to me, but alas I am not going to change my vision in the ways they would need.

Not that they were being unreasonable, no not at all. But changing my reading and story choice book/app into a children's entertainment app, including minigames etc is just not what I foresee. Even if it would be fun to write those minigames etc.

So maybe I will get chance to try again on my next App, time will tell.

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paper to Electronic is a pain

I may be called a traditionalist by some. Heck I feel odd enough about this issue myself. It seems no matter how used to all this tech I am that I have around me, I cannot just use it for all my creative purposes.

I am talking about the fact that I write my designs down. I sketch and write about the parts of the game design on a big pad of lined paper. The odd thing about this is of course that in the end it needs to be in electronic form, and I have several machines that should allow me to simply create this design information directly into them. Foregoing the trouble of taking my notes and writings and typing them up into MS Word. Still, the convenience of my pad.. and the feel of the ink from the pen... It keeps me writing and not typing.

So what do I do with the 20 pages I have written over the last several weeks? Well I start by talking nicely to my wife, who is an excellent typist, and she knocks them into a word doc for me (I am not so great or fast a typist, though I get by pretty well). Then I scan the sketches I have drawn and put them all into a holding directory, and from there I drop them into the Word Document.

Now I have an electronic version of the design, only.. well It is still an issue for me to work with. Once I have the design designed, I need to organise it in a nice flowing manner (not the manner or order I wrote it in I can tell ya!). With my papers I simply get to the floor and space them out and slowly organise them into a coherent whole. Finally flicking through the paperwork pile to enjoy this nice order. In the Word document I feel like I struggle to feel the flow, and it makes me organising it a much harder job to do. The biggest benefit to being in a document of course is the fact that I can edit anything written, not so easy in paper form.

Maybe I am old fashioned or simply stuck in my ways, but the tactile and connected feel I have for paper and pen will take a lot of persuading to go.

laters all
Da Voodoochief

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Going Solar Skepticism

I was contacted a few months back about the possibility of going Solar, by a company that is based down in Malibu, California (not too far from me). I have looked into solar previously and the cost just did not allow me to follow through on it. But there have been advances in technology etc and I am always interested in such things. so when the salesman asked me to setup an appointment I did, simply thinking that I would find out more information, but telling them straight that I did not expect to sign up.

The next week I had a nice chap called Mark Raymond(818 455 1487) turn up on my door on time. He was very pleasant and I have to say that maybe I was curious, but also a little stern. There was no way a salesman was going to come into MY house and sell me something I possibly could not afford. I really felt that I was ready for this confrontational meeting. I expected it to be such , as he would be busy trying hard to sell me something, and me parsing through what he says to pick out the facts and figures that I know would show me it is not yet viable.

However the conversation soon showed that I may have been wrong. It appears that maybe there is actually a chance that this was worth signing up for.. Oh my goodness, all my pre-conceived ideas were going awry. Well I asked a LOT of questions, I had also done some homework and found lots of awkward questions to ask ( I love putting salesman in awkward positions :). So I asked each one, I was honest and also a bit brusk I am sure as i brushed aside several 'facts' that he had. Taking some number even with a large pinch  of salt still made this whole thing look interesting. As it went on I found myself searching for more questions to ask to make this deal unviable. However I was running out of them fast.

In fact I told Mark to setup the next stage in the process, as his numbers showed me I could actually save money very soon with the Solar installation. It all comes down to me paying a lease, and ALSO paying California Edison each month. How can this be good? Well simply put the lease cost is dependant on the size of your installation. The amount of electricity the installation generates is relative to the size of the installation and the sunlight it gets (shadowed gets less etc). So the amount of electricity you generate means you do not have to pay Edison. Therefore we add the cost of both sides and you get your monthly payment amount. for me it was rather close to what I am currently paying (on average for the year).

BUT.. There is a kicker...  Edison put up their rates each year. My lease cost will not change for the next 20 years. So it causes the cost of my electricity to stay pretty much the same for the next 20 years (the part I still don't generate has to be paid to Edison, so that will go up). Unlike if i am totally Edison and the cost goes up so 6% or so a year (though currently it is slated for 9% for the next 3 years). Maybe I need to point out 'Tiers', and these effect your bill each month to a huge extent. Tier 1 electricity from Edison is much cheaper than Tier 2 and so on. I barely get into Tier 4 for my own electricity, but I am sure if you are in Tier 4 or even a higher tier, then there should be possibly more to save.

There are several stages to getting Solar put in (or there are with American Solar Direct), and so Mark left my house with some information and we were going to meet again after they had crunched more numbers and made sure my roof was viable.

At this point I was excited that there was a possibility I could go Solar (what an attitude change eh!)

More to come in a future post
Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Midway1 & 2 Popularity listing in Home

Several people have asked how the older games from Midway 1 and Midway 2 work out for popularity. So I asked and received the list below.

No real surprises as in Midway2 'Swingers' is number 1, I am told by a large margin. this is no surprise because it has that special exclusive perfection prize. Well worth playing for.

In Midway 1 it is no surprise to me to see 'Ball Sqeezer' at the bottom of the list, as people tend to find this one very difficult (though I personally think Bell Ringer is harder).

  1. Darlas Darts
  2. High Roller
  3. Bell Ringer
  4. Spilt Milk
  5. Fickle Flapper
  6. Miz Fortune
  7. Frog Flinger
  8. Trigger Happy
  9. Rebound
  10. Ball Squeezer
  1. Swingers
  2. Glue Factory
  3. Teed Off
  4. Wet & Wild
  5. Kitty Cannon
  6. Blue Balls
  7. Miz Fortune
  8. Bite Me
  9. Half Cocked
  10. Pop Weasel
Hope you al find this information interesting. Though once again I cannot understand some of the games positions.

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Midway3 Minigames in Home Popularity List

In Playstation Home people are still busy earning their rewards and Avatar items by playing the Midway games. I received a list of the popularity of these games and so figured I would post them for those interested players :)

Now some of this order may surprise you (it does me). So after the list I will post a few thoughts on why the order is like it is.
  1. Beans, Beans
  2. Penny Pincher
  3. Dead Ringer
  4. Pull My Finger
  5. Big Foot
  6. Puck It
  7. Miz Fortune
  8. Scattershot
  9. Light Me Up
  10. Whack Off
 So whats surprises you? For me there are several, not least the most played game being 'Beans beans beans'. Also I would add that the least favourite game is 'Whack off', which I thougth was pretty fun, but is bottom. I was expecting something like Penny pincher to be top, as it has that Special Exclusive prize that people play for, and it was indeed close.
I think Beans beans beans is top as it is just so fast a game to play. I think the fastest out of all the game in the Midways to be honest. Therefore I think people can throw away a game very quickly and so just simply have another. Also with it being so fast, freeplay frenzys on that game will allow a larger number of players to participate than a slower game like 'Whack off'.
Any thoughts on why the games are popular in this order?
Da Voodoochief

Monday, August 27, 2012

Programming Mobility

For quite a number of years now I have wanted to be completely mobile with my programming. I want to do this for many reasons, but the one that most excited me is the chance to go on vacation in the summer months when my kids are off school, and yet be able to work. Therefore extending my summer vacation time (sort of), and allowing us to travel through more of this wonderful country. Only I have not really managed to get there yet. Although I always feel I am close.

Well the truth is now obvious to me, and that is that I am not prepared at all. And heres why...

I have my computer at home in the spare bedroom, the one that is reserved for visiting friends and family. When not in use by those people it doubles as my computer room and creative den. Well several months back my Mom came to stay with us for a month and it was great. During that time I move my desktop computer into a makeshift area in my living room. And as you may guess it is stil there 3 months after she has gone back to blighty. Well my excuse was that another member of my family was gonna come out in september. Only that has been delayed a month or two now. So why not just move back into the spare room?

Well it feels like too much trouble, adn IF this is too much trouble, how the heck do I call myself portable? GAH! It galls me to realise that I am really so far away from my portable manouverable dream.

Now I need to work on that. I am sure there will be more to this story (soon i hope).

Da VoodooChief

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Researching Menus

The Questions I would like to ask is:
  How do you do your research when designing for new game menus on devices?

Me personally I write down all the things I would like on a particular menu screen, and then I go to check what others have done and refine my basic layout/design with what I like and dislike from my trials. However I have choices in which other apps and games I can investigate. Do I check out the most popular games, thinking that being most popular means they must have done the best job... right??? Only.. Well I do not personally believe that in of itself.

Still I also have the option of checking out the games I already own. This is the option I tend to go for. In fact i refine my list even more to the games I have enjoyed myself. This has the benefit that the games I want to check out I don't have to go find and download, it also tends to mean that I already know which games have menus that do something similar to my needs.

Once I have played with several other apps menu pages, I finish out my own and hopefully make them feel not just better than if I had not done the research, but also I hope to improve on the designs I liked most in other games. This gives me a lot of confidence in my New menu designs.

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

iPad 2, nice display!

I am going Solar electricity at my house. They will place 13 panels on my flat garage roof in the next month or so, then months later the council and utilities company will allow them to turn it on. As a signing bonus they have given me a nice shiny and new iPad 2.

Now i do not have an ipad of any sort, as the Kindle seems to do anything I need and more. And so have not bothered to obtain one, cos of their hefty price tag. Now it isn't that I don't need one, as developing for this platform means I have to test out my apps on them.Luckily i have several friends who have them, and they very kindly allow me to test on their machines. So as it happens, surprisingly to my mind.. I have never seen '5 Golden Coins' on an iPad. Though I have some specific tests and setup I do for them. In my defense Marmalade makes it real easy to go to this platform, and so makes me a bit lax I reckon. Anyhow...

Now I have an iPad 2, and last night rather late I put on the new version of '5 Golden Coins' and Wow... The display is amazing. Now my graphics are tailored to just under the ipads resolution, so I get a small amount of stretching, though you really cannot tell. Instead what you see is this gorgeous display, so clear and detailed. I am astounded. After using the kindle now for 10 months, I am shocked to see how much better this iPad display looks. I know I shouldn't.. but wowza!

In fact I am so happy with the way it looks, I will be showing off my app on that device in future!

Not sure yet if it will end up being my default development device or not. The kindle is pretty darned handy for that. As well as the fact it fits in my jeans pocket!

Have a good un,
Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Improved Buttons for 5GC

I have been working on improving the overall look of the '5 Golden Coins' Book App. One of the improvements on my list was to improve the way the buttons looked. I had some good tuition from one of my workmates (an artist obviously), and on sunday i mae what i envisaged, Woohoo!

Before and After images.

Do ya like my new butons, they match the coloration of the logo now. They are also less boring and staid than the original grey ones i had intially implemented.

Also in the second picture you can just about see the rainbow waterfall effect over the logo and raindbow in the title image.

Finally you can see from this image the new backdrop i am using, and it is a picture of a slightly aged page. This adds more to the fading than anything else though. still a nice subtle improvement.

Once i get this new version setup properly on an ipad (or 4:3 aspect ratio) I will be ready to resubmit.

Da Voodoochief

Friday, August 10, 2012

Its so Easy

Isn't it amazing how easy some things can be, when you know how to do them

I'd bet that you have said that line to several people already in ya life. They were looking blankly at say the monitor of their desktop and wondering what buton to press first, or maybe what way up the keyboard should go! Still you knew what they wanted to do was Soooo Easy. Then ya showed them and they were astonished at how hard or complicated it still was. Learned knowledge is a powerful thing.

Well I am currently working on trying to understand (in fact my whole team at work) how this GDK that we are working with works. Or how it connects all the data and code and scripts to end up making the game work and show up correctly on screen. I feel this is one of those cases, where, someone who has used this GDK to create a game, could easily just say to us, Oh you want to do 'that'. Well np, Its so easy, ya just gotta do this and that etc.....

However, until we get this mythical person to show us how to use this GDK, we will keep fumbling in the dark. At times it is a frustrating process, yet.. I have hope and a desire to see us gain the knowledge to make this all work. With mine and the teams desire I know we will succeed.

Even if it feels Like i am bamnging my head against this wall of unfathomable code. Strength of will and purpose will see us through.

Laters y'all
Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Value In Perception

I recently applied to get into Marmalade's App program. Something I also did with my previous Hot Chicks the card game title. They didn't want Hot Chicks, which was no real surprise, being that it is controversial to some degree. However I hoped for a lot better with my first in a series of Book Apps. Not that I was breaking any ground in visual effects or 3D or anything else that would show off their wonderful SDK in any way. Still I figured as I am the only person creating this type of interactive book, I stood a chance from an original gameplay perspective.

Well last Friday I was rejected. In a really nice way I might add. The nice fellow who is my interface was very kind and has asked for some enhancements to the App itself, and he would love to see it again. He mentioned he loved the idea, especially if it can be a cross promoting series of Book Apps (which is my aim). He suggested a few simple things that would enhance the game.While I have made a nice list of things that I would like to do and in some cases would NOT like to do, to improve the look of the game.

Notice how above I mentioned LOOK of the game? This is really what I am doing at the moment. I am not necessarily improving my Game/App. In fact all i am doing is dressing it up with more 'Bling' as a friend Andy said yesterday. At first I was a bit frustrated at the thought of altering the most simple UI layout I have ever created (this is for young children after all). Then on reflection and playing the App on my Kindle Fire as objectively as I could. I realise that I went too far. I did not create all that bling for several reasons. But now I feel I should have some. The title page for example has no animation on it, and I HATE dead title pages. So that one was easy to feel good about changing. Now I could list all my current blingification items, but i'll leave that for now.

What matters is the reasons to add in all this bling. Perception is the reason, and first impressions counting. If someone sees my bland title page, they perceive a value for the App. Regardless of the game beneath. Now they will see a much more vibrant title page, making it more inviting imho.

So I am taking a lot of time to add bling to my app not just so it will have another chance at being in the Apps program, but also so peoples first impressions are of a higher value App. I can and will alter peoples perceptions of the 5 Golden Coins app, in a positive way!

Worth the time... You betcha!

Da Voodoocheif

Monday, August 6, 2012

Midway Sweepstakes Winners!

I have been waiting what seems like a long time to finally announce some of the great news from the Playstation Home

Midway Ca$h Carnival Sweepstakes!
Sony have announced several winners and the prizes they have won. You can view this information inside Playstation Home on the Prize boards in the Hot Zone.
Winners so far:- 
  • Medic4you Won a Sony Bravia 55" (with an ARV of $2,699.98)
  • BrownReclucio Won a Sony 1000W Blu-ray Home Theater System (ARV $499.98
  • mrpayt0n73 Won a Sony Cyber-shot Digital camera (ARV $349.99)
  • smurfdropper Won a Sony Tablet S (ARV $499.98)
  • IXI_JOE_IXI Won  a Sony Blu-ray Player (ARV $199.98)
 These prizes were won by entering the sweepstakes. Each green ticket you spend in the Hot Zone or in the Midways will earn you an entry into the weekly drawing. Also you will entered into the final Grand Prize Drawing for the $15,000 prize! WOOHOO!
And the green tickets are only $1 for 50 tickets, so it is really cheap to enter as well. So get into Sony Playstation Home (Free and on your Playstation 3) and have a Blast winning a ridiculous amount of Avatar gear and furniture items for your Free personal space (awarded when you enter one of the Midways).
THIS weeks prize is...
Good luck in there,
Da Voodoochief
Note: I work professionally for Mass Media Games and have worked on creating some of this content for Playstation Home.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bit of Side on action

So I was busy last night. I was also quite strict with myself and only did about 15 minutes of programming and I was happy, because I proved to myself that what I wanted to do was gonna be fairly easy and pretty fast. Then in a rare show of mental fortitude I left the coding.. and turned off my PC.

Then I went back to the design, which I also carried on while at El Pollo Loco today at lunch time :)

I know, ya thinking HOW do I do the design work while my PC is turned off, and also ho at lunchtime while out. I'll bet ya even thinking I am using a Laptop, but I am not. In fact... I am using an age old technique I have used for more than 30 years designing games.

A Pen/Pencil and paper.

Shocking isn't it. Of course this does mean that all the stuff I have written so far will need to be typed in at some point. But I have a secret weapon that is my wife, and she types ten to the dozen i can tell ya. So no worries from me on that one. I also use paper as i tend to do a lot of simple drawings to flesh out what I am writing about. Those I sometimes scan in.

This is currently what I have for me code. Once agai using CombatEva and a very odd forward shuffling motion. In this picture I am showing our Hero moving forwards (except i cannot see any movement, cos i have no visual queues at the moment (SCOTT!), that was a shout out to my artist :). He is moving across the screen and the camera is following. Except in reality I will conveyor everthing to him instead of him moving forwards. That ball ya see on the floor is CombatEvas head texture on a ball that Scott made for me. It sort of rolls around at the moment and is boring. Though Eva looks like she is about to drill it with a big footy kick, yeah!

So the game obviously will have a bit of side on action, though it will also have otehr angles to play with.

well that's all for tonight. I am gonna write something else in the design now. Cos i am too excited to go to bed and sleep (Me and me mate are going Off roading on our off road bikes tomorrow, Yeah Baby!!).

G'night all,
Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Design or Code?

Tonight I seem to be trapped y some indecision. Should I carry on with this important design I am working on, or should I carry on working on the proof of technology code. GAH! I just don't know.

So far I have worked on both the code AND the design, but neither is realy moving fast enough for my mind. It is like my mind is going at 4 times the speed i can type AND write. So now I am writing this still not sure which to choose.

Sensibly I should choose the design, as that will come first... Only.. Well, If I knew how many polygons I can push on the different hardwares, It could influence the design. Simply by me being able to put on more enemies at a time without the frame rate suffering.

I think I will work a bit on the Camera tonight (maybe 30 mins or so). Then I'll carry on with the design. I will do mainly design becasue it directly effects my partner Scott.

Well, I am glad writing this has allowed me to get it straigh in me head.

Laters all,
Da Voodoochief

Sunday, July 29, 2012

3D is now a plaything

One of the Excellent things I get from using Marmalade is that I get to play with whatever I want, 2D or 3D wise. Even menus or UI has several flavors to choose from. This is a most excellent suite of tools or SDK. I usually tell ya about how easy it is to create cross platform content. But today I am gonna mention my new direction...

I have been doing 2D games now for some time with my Indie game dev company Sorcery Games. Well it might be time to branch out. The 2D is very easy in Marmalade ( and I expect the 3D to be just as easy. I am very familiar with both worlds having created and also ported so many games, both big and small. One thing I dislike is having to somehow wedge in addons to compensate for the game type I am writing. So far I have not had to do that with Marmalade.

Still onto todays topis. 3D, yeah check this out, a picture from my PC desktop, but it lokos the same on the Amazon Kindle...

You cannot see it from the picture, but she is also animated. this is CombatEva and she is part of one of the examples. Only this version of CombatEva is an export from my artist friend, and the animation is also one he created for her. All is well in creating a basic 3D model and rendering it. One of the advantages of using Marmalade is the fact it creates Native CPU instructions to run on the hardware. This makes it a real performance winner. And who doesn't need as much help there as we can get eh! The Backbreaker series is created with this SDK along with Need for Speed etc. It is a proven 3D powerhouse and we need that, as some devices are simply not very powerful with polygons.

Next up for me is to get another model into this game and fly the camera around. I may just do some flying controls, not sure yet.

But I am very happy to be going into the next dimension once again. With Marmalade I expect it to be as simple as it can get.

Laters all,
Da Voodoochief

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Work and Play

I have not posted in a week, it could be the first whole week this year that I have not posted anything to this blog. And that includes when I was on vacation several weeks ago.

I have been lax for several reasons. One is just burn out. I have been so busy frying my brain with my day job that I have not had enough left to be creative with my Blog. I also seem to have split my time into too many directions at the moment and so completing anything is a pain.

Still my milestone is about over and I hope to go back to a more normal creative and brain draining rate at work. If that happens then I should be able to get back to my own endeavours and keep updating  this blog on it's more regular schedule.

I was saddened yesterday to learn that a good friend of mine that I have not seen in several years died recently in a Motorcycle accident. It was fatal at the scene and my friend Mike, who was a really good guy and someone everyone wanted to be around passed away. I feel a bit frustrated with myself for having lost touch with him these last years and now i won't see him again. I hope he is at peace and making friends in his usual easy way up in heaven. We love ya Mike.

...back to milestone documentation,

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Good Night of Work

Well last night went so well. I managed to attack several things and get them to the level I wanted to. A much more productive time than I have had this last week for sure. Heck I even managed to suffer an hour or so of Diablo3 as well.

Watched Chronicle with me family.. I realy enjoyed the raw flavour of this film. I felt for the depressed and picked on kid the whole movie. Though my favourite character was Steve, he rocked.

Read some of a book by Brock Deskins on me Kindle Fire as the wifey watched some master chef crap. It was so distracting I could not work, though by this time I had setup my PC and al my excellent recording equipment. (see i was preparing).

Once Hells chef Master was done and all expletives spoken i was ready for some work. So I got down and started recording the rest of the Male reading audio for A Day at the Zoo. I was soon done with that and I believe I am getting much better at directing myself (sure hope so).

As I had been reading my book I had been pondering a game design challenge. It has taken me something like 4 days but as I was reading the inspiration and idea hit me. YES, i knew i had it. So after the audio work. I wrote down the design layout.

I answered several emails and emailed Google about an isue with my 5 Golden Coins app. Then I typed up my design and sent it to me mate Scott. I really feel this could be a good one.

Next up I played some D3. Killed so many elites and then retired it. The butcher will be taken down very soon now.

Edited some pictures my artist has sent me and created an apk. Though I will wait to send it till later this week I think (i can add my audio :).

And then I went to bed, haha

Da Voodoochief

Monday, July 16, 2012

Porting Others Games

I am in one of those rather frustrated days today. I even feel a bit angry to be honest.

The reason is that my Day job has mostly turned into porting others games onto inferior machines. I have done this kind of thing for many years, usually dotted with development on original titles along the way. Mixing the two methods of programming and creatig games has been fun and very informative.

Yet, here I am sitting at my desk today, looking over this ridiculous amount of code that creates one of the simplist games I have ever seen. I do not feel like this is what I am mean't to do. There is no real creativity to this one, unless you count the detective work to fathom some black box piece of code and then write a system to replace it. Lots of detective work, not much coding. Still a bit of fun to be honest.

Today though, i feel frustrated.. I have several creative developments going along at the moment and I cannot find enough time to really get them moving faster. Instead I sit here looking over thousadns of lines of code that do so very little, gah!

At lunchtime though I will be able to work on my designs again... I will wait patiently for that time,

Da Voodoochief

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sound Recording ready?

I spent some money on obtaining better sound equipment so I can record the audio for my Book App to a higher quality. I did enjoy using works system, but carting that back and forth is a pain. So I bought my own stuff. After talking with several workmates about what to buy (they are mucisions as well as great geeks). Then I went to musicians friend and bought all the bits I need.

After I ordered all the stuff most of it was sent the next day. The only issue was the mixer, which was on back order, bah!

One of the best bonuses of buying all this equipment is that I now have excellent Karaoke equipment to use, sweet eh!

One week later and the moxer was sent out. I got it last night and tried to set everything up. Only to find I missed a bit. GAH!  I missed buying that  RCA->Jak and I need two o them. Still a quick journey to Radio Shack today and 6 bucks later. I now have them in my posession. I think there might be audio happening this weekend.

Take care out there,

Da Voodoochief

Monday, July 9, 2012

Design template

I have been working on a design template this weekend. Nothing too fancy, but a nice succinct layout for me to throw my new generation of Game designs into. A format I hope will be efficient and also allow my friend Scott to easily adapt as well.

Ya see we are both busy designing games at the moment, and at some point we will choose one or more of them to go into production. However his way of laying out designs is nothing like mine. So i am hopeful that if I do this template, we can really put designs alongside each other and work out which we want to do. Not which is better precisely, but which we will do for many reasons, that I will write about when i know the answer, lol.

Here is my first attempt...

Now I have my template I am going to try and put in a design I already did, to see which aspects I have missed. That way i can find which parts i have missed and also tidy it up more (make it more consistant in layout).

Da Voodoochief

Thursday, July 5, 2012

As an Indie Dev, never on vacation

I am sure this also goes for other entrepreneurs and self employed people, but I reckon there is no dedicated Indie game developer that ever shuts off.

For example...

I just spent the last 4 days at big Bear in my trailer camping with my family. It was great, the weather was nice in the 70's and we were close to the lake. I managed to Read several books (which always give me inspiration) and more interestingly I managed to layout designs for 2 more games. Which I hope to discuss with me mate Scott. When I am away from my machinery I am always thinking about what I might want to create next. I never shut off, and when i am away in the open etc, i find my mind is all aflutter with ideas and inspiration.

Scott has an investor who wants us to create some games, so we will try and create some fun games that are free, but have enhanced or alternative content for in game purchase. It is a fun thing to do as we both have set out to create 10 game designs each, then we will battle over (discuss) which are our best starting options. Eventually getting this list down to the starting one. that might be difficult, but it might be our most important decision.

I'll post more information and an update once i have chatted with Scott.

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

5GC and ADatZ links and update

As usual I am rather excited. My artist Nathan is pounding forward like the true professional he is. Sending me those samples to choose a pose from and being quick with it.

Tonight I have been very busy modifying the web sites to reflect the availability of 5Golden Coins.

5 Golden Coins on Google Play Appstore
5 Golden Coins on Apples Appstore
Adventure Books for Children Home page
5 Golden Coins Product Page
SorceryGames Home Page
A Day at the Zoo

Now I have active links to the iOS page. Which is something I feel is very important. his point really promoting the App. In fact I am going to wait until I have A Day at the Zoo created and then promote them both at the same time.

Take care and I'll post after my few vacation days camping.

Da Voodoochief

Monday, July 2, 2012

Snake Sketches

As per my Elephants post, this is another sketch sample from Nathan.

This time I have what I believe is an easier choice, simply because each snake is a different species. I try to look at this artwork from both a parental perspective and and also a childs eye view. This I hope will give me the best insight into which sketch to use.

what do you think ?

Me, I like the Boa at the bottom. Not exactly sure why, maybe it is the coiled nature of it?

I have also included a colored Sketch of the Panda. It was this picture that convinced me I should use Nathan for the art in this book. I hope you too can appreciate the wonderful sense of Pandaness that exudes fromt eh sketch. Yes, it is not yet finished, but on it's way.
Da Voodoochief

Friday, June 29, 2012

5 Golden Coins is accepted by Apple

I am in shock.

Yeah, Not only did the App get approved first time. It also got approved in record time. 1 Week after submission it went into review. Then just hours later passes and says it is now live.

Though we have to wait for it to become truly available to see on ther AppStore and be able to buy it.

Still, this is a great thing and 1 less submission for me to worry about. One startling thing is the fact that Amazon are still reviewing the Book App for their store :O

WOOHOO!  I am so happy this has passed.

Da Voodoochief

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Apple is now Reviewing 5 Golden Coins

I just received the email from Apple stating that my game is 'now in review'. I sure hope things go smoothly, as I still have not managed to get anything published on iOS devices.

Ok, so I only tried with Hot Chicks the card game, but being so incredibly adult and mature, iOS device owners were not able to stomach it. Oh, sorry that is a diservice. Apparently noone with that brand of device even saw it, ONLY the tester.. He or she must have an Iron constitution to handle the explicit nature of the game (joke of course).

Hopefully this time I will get some less pomous reviewing done and it will pass with flying colors.

finger crossed here...

Da Voodoochief

ps. and no, i AM bitter!

ADatZ sample Elephants

My new and most excellent artist, Nathan is his name and he is busy working on 'A Day at the Zoo' artwork. This is for my series of adventure books for children as Book Apps.

he just sent me some sketches of Elephants to look over and pick one of his examples to run with and paint up . this is so exciting, I have choices haha, which I love to have. Only...


How the heck do I choose which one to go with ? Maybe you folks have an opinion?

I like the top one because it is so playful, as is the bottom one. But the middle one is so classic, gah!

Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wasting Time on Game Changes

Time of development can quite easily be considered Money. That is you are being paid for the development in hand. Indie devs can believe that this rule does not apply to them as they are busy creating their vision and are not being paid for doing this development anyway. However this is not strictly true even for Indie devs. Simply because time is still money, or potential earnings.

Consider that if each game took you 6 months to complete you would have 2 titles in a year, earning whatever they earn. But if you did their development in only 4 months, then you would have three titles, Three chances at catching Lightning in a bottle! If it is due to change of something that already works great, it is costing you.

I am sure you are wondering why this is important and if in fact this is relevant to anything. Well it is, simply becasue a lot of changes to gameplay only add a very small percentage of increased exposure, or increased profitability. So you could add 4 new powerups for you platform game to the 6 you already had, then you would have a nice round 10 powerups, yeah, that sounds most excellent (yeah, even to my ears :). The real question is, did you really need to add them. These bits of coding tend to be the most fun to write, but can also eat up a lot of time if done well. Implementing and timing effects can take a considerable amount of time to get nice. So did you need those extra powerups? They were not in the original design, so most likely NO, but they do add a bit of pizzaz. That is called feature creep and is not the point of this Blog post, though it is related, as it can be a real waste of time/money.

So back to creating your game and doing game changes for the sake of making things line up, or seem right, or balance in an OCD way better. As with the 6 powerups becoming 10 to make it a nice round decimal number. Changes in game can be very costly and could easily put back any title (AAA titles also suffer from this). It tends to be worse when more people are involved in the dev process.
  1. Can ya change the way the hair looks
  2. Can the hair bounce programmatically
  3. Instead of counting up the numbers and making them Glow, can they flash and count down?
  4. Can the countdown cross fade and not be separate?
  5. Although that moving effect looks ace and took ya a week, can you make it stationary?
All these are examples of what I have seen and dealt with myself. There was nothing wrong with what was there, and in some cases it was better before the change. But somone wanted it changed for the sake of change.

Late in a project all changes should be considered for the enhancement potential to the game alongside their cost in time and money.

Da Voodoochief

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blog Followers Count so low

I like writing this Blog about my creations and sometimes my meanderings into different aspects of my life. Yet I try hard to keep it on track and I blog often.  I currently get approximately 80-100 visits a day, although that would be in the week, weekends are a lot more lax.

I write in a way that I believe is interesting and sort of storyish, giving what I hope is a unique perspective into games creation and all that entails. Which is of course a complicated and many headed beastie.

The real questions is How Do I Get More Followers and Visitors to my Blog?

I tried in February and upped my readership from 20ish a day to the current 80ish. Now I did this by getting myself listed on Blog directory sites. And I also Ping my Blog posts every now and again. I used to ping them all, but I am not sure it has any real effect. As far as I can tell most of my visitors are in fact bots, crawling through whatever I post for 'I don't know what'. This is disappointing as I believed if people checked out my blog, they would come back occasionally.

Instead it seems that I have very little retention. Or maybe I just cannot reach new people with what I am currently doing. I got the big rush back in Fenruary when I joined the Directories and started Pinging my posts. Only that should have allowed me to continually grow my audience if in fact it really worked. Even if the audience grew slowly.

As it happens a lot of my new audience came from the fact i work on Playstation Home stuff. Which is interesting, as there are a lot more people who play Device and Phone games than play in Sony Playstation Home. So surely I should get more followers for that development, but so far that does not appear to be true.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not griping at all, I would write this Blog even if the only people reading it were my Mum and family back in England. Still I feel it is a missed opportunity if I do not grow it. I do hear about blogs that get posted to once a month that have more followers than me.

Maybe I can get more Blog followers from expanding my Twitter follower list (which is at about 900 at the moment).

Time will tell, but if YOU have any ideas of how I can get more followers, then please let me know :)

Thanks for reading,
Da Voodoochief

Friday, June 22, 2012

Amazon submission continues

After getting notification that 5 golden Coins had failed submision with Amazon for the external link not working. Well I messaged them back and told them the situation. Today I got an email (maybe 36 hours later) that all is good and they will carry on with the submission process. This is great as I expect most parents to buy this Book/App for their iPads and Kindle fire Pads. It does look do much better and appears more like a real book on these machines.

A guy who happens to have followed me on twitter cos for my day job I sometimes do Playstation Home stuff. I am very thankful right now as we are in the process of final contract negotiations for artwork for my next Book/App 'A Day at the Zoo'. His artwork looks great, and I will reveal more when the contract is signed etc.. (VERY EXCITED!!!)

I spent a buncha money a couple of nights ago to buy some audio equipment, like Mikes and mixer and stands etc. I have spent a bit of money, but the gear I am gonna receive is gonna be great, not only for my Book/App audio (and videos). But it will be amazing for Karaoke as well. So I am also very excited to think in several weeks time I might be having a Karaoke party at my house, haha! Yeah baby, living the dream. Only reason why it's several weeks is becasue the mixer is on back order, bah!

Well that's a quick catchup for now.. More laters...

Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

5 Golden Coins failed Amazon submission

It failed and within 24 hours of being submitted. I wonder if Amazon are pushing testing for Apps through quicker now, or maybe there is not such a large backlog nowadays.

Anyway... My App failed because of the credits screen. Yes, it's true. In fact it failed the credits screen because I use links to partner or credited web sites. In this particular case the 'Adventure Books for Children' web site was the cause of the issue. When they clicked this live link it sent them not to (like the link is inside the app, but to instead.

As it happens that web site redirection was setup already to have it's OWN web pages (I did not know this). So it ended up on a web page saying that the address could not be found. GARH!

After about an hour with Tech support on my web site we found the issue and removed the redirection. So now it goes right through to instead, like I always wanted it to. In fact in my testing this is what it did for it's behaviour, so I am unsure what changed recently.

Still, a very aggravating set of circumstances, and now I have emails Amazon to ask that they continue with my Apps submission process as this was not anything wrong with the App, but an external web page redirection issue. Time will tell what Amazon will do, but I hope I don't have to needlessly re-upload the Apps apk file.

Laters all
Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

5 Golden Coins on Google play

5 Golden Coins on Google play.

I took this weekend to make sure all my submission extras were created and written up. I know I still have to put my list out into the Blog, but at the moment it is too untidy. I will conitinue to work on that. Then later I can use the Blog post to make sure my submission extra items are done properly.

It took most of my weekend working through creating extra icons of various sizes (so many!). there were several redesigns along the way for the extra small icons (36x36, 48x48), but I like the iconic look of these now much better than when they had words in them.

I ended up quite enjoying creating the marketing blurb and game descriptions, even the features were fun to do. Not something I typically enjoy doing. However this time I used a whole lot of my research to help me out. I did this by using comps, or comparison titles. There are a lot of childrens interactive books available for Android and iOS devices, so I searched out approxiamtely 10 or so of them, but a couple of diferent companies, such as Disney. Then i grabbed all their marketing and description text for the 10 games. Then I deleted stuff I dislied or did not match my game. Then I ended up with what I would call a suggestion or hint list. This also had the side effect of my accumulating some more common descriptions for this type of App. Such as 'App Book' or 'Word for Word narration'. That was especially useful for me, as I was not familiar with those terms. Then I wrote my own blurb from the notes I had accumulated from these other titles. This worked out so well and I did not copy a single line in the end, just used it all as inspiration. After all they have some clever creative writers at these big companies.

Once I had all this informations and the artwork accumulated, it was time to setup the game on the 3 main stores Google play, Amazon App Store and Apples App Store.

I had some issues with Apple, as i usually seem to. This time I needed to read some legal blurb they had and mark it done. However the web site did not function corectly with my Windows Explorer browser. In the end I got rather frustrated and eventually downloaded and installed apples own Safari browser. This worked seamlessly of course (thanks Apple). Once that was through I found I could not charge for my App. So once again I had to go through more information to eventually have to setup my bank account details. Makes sense though I guess. Once this was done I got to upload all the assets as usual, the only issue being the fact that the screenshot upload is nervous and sometimes just stops working. So I just kept refreshing the screen.

The Amazong setup went as smooth as usual and this time I did not have any extra paperwork to submit, as I already have a full setup with them and my bank details. I was worried at the point where I was uploading my apk file. As the screen said any apk file bigger than 30MB needed to be sent via another methid and not web page upload. I checked and realised my apk file is in fact 29MB, and that wasn't designed that way. So I felt pretty lucky.

The google play setup was good, only at some point after I was about done I needed to upload a new apk file. I wasn't sure what to do so I decided to delete the old apk file from their system. This had the annoying side effect of removing the App completely.... So I had to start over, gah! Still with all the information in a text file and folder for the artwork, the re-submission went very smoothly. then Setup my Bank details once more as I wasn't able to charge for an App, and hey Presto the title went live.

After all that it was Sunday night about 12:30am or so. I was waiting fro the Google play link to become active so I could put it into my web pages. but got too tired of waiting an hour later.

Still the game is NOW live on the Google play store HERE.
Amazon should take about 7-10 days, then it will be live for Kindle (YAY!)
Apples App store will hopefully have it live in approximately 3 weeks or so.

So that leaves me 3 weeks to get all my stuff togetehr for marketing and promotion etc.

Da Voodoochief