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Month: March 2013

Game Development Housework

Game Development Housework


This week I’ve been doing the game development equivalent of housework; cleaning out some bugs and tidying up code. I’m pushing out the releases I’ve completed so far on as many platforms as possible- something that’s relatively easy due to the software I use- but something that does take time nonetheless.

The way I see it, I want to get ‘all the versions’ out there. At the moment they are distractions- a nagging thought “what if I port xx to x platform? It wouldn’t take long…” I’m consciously trying to grow my player base this year. Right now I’m focusing on past releases, specifically ‘Planet Wars’- which to be honest I’m sick of. I always get the sense while working on it “I can do so much better than this”, which on one hand is a good thing as it means I’m progressing. The bad side is a loss of confidence in publicizing the project– nobody really enthusiastically wants to bang the drum of project when they know they could do better. It’s not a new feeling.

So I’ve been coming to terms with that. Whenever I finish anything, I will of improved and learned along the way and therefore the actual product quality is less than what I can achieve with my new skills. I’m come to this realisation before in some of my other art-focused work, and I think it’s something almost every artist or developer can relate to.

‘Planet Wars’ is a project I started way back at the tail end of 2010. It actually hasn’t changed much. The code is a mess quite frankly. I’ve learned so much since. BUT, you know what? It’s still a blast, on Xbox especially. I’ve played it in co-op mode with some friends a fair few times, and it’s certainly worth 80 msp I feel.

When this is all done I’ll get down to the serious and occasionally unserious business of my next project; the MegaCity sequel. I’ve already started the game engine. Right now I’m wondering whether it should be in the vein of a direct sequel, or straight up a different game, abeit with the city-building theme of the original. I’m leaning toward the latter seeing as my ideas are so different to the original concept.

Till next week!

Things to do March/April

Things to do March/April


1. Update MegaCity on Android– I’ve got a small update which should fix some issues on some devices. Developing for android is like whack-a-mole.

2. Update Planet Wars for Android– see above.

3. Release my free quiz game side project for Android.

4. Put Planet Wars and said quiz game on Amazon app store for Kindle.

5. Make Planet Wars for Windows Phone– Why not, right?

7. Flash version of Planet Wars?

8. Make a super amazing other game over the next year or so.

9. Party.

Better late than never, right?

Better late than never, right?

Planet Wars

After several months of trying to sort out payment stuff with Microsoft, I’ve finally given in and somewhat reluctantly purchased another subscription to their app hub for xbox. I’ve detailed my reluctance before– their absence of a user-friendly and on-time payment method for developers and the uncertain fate of XNA itself made me cancel my original sub.

But I’m back! Despite Microsoft, not because of them really. Because I actually really like XBLIG, despite it’s obvious severe lack of faith and funding from the company that spawned it. Because at the end of the day, I actually love that my games are available on Xbox, and I want to support my xbox players. I loaded up MegaCity for xbox the other day, and jesus, that version feels old compared to the latest. So new gargantuan update heading your way Xbox players. Plus I’ve had a version of Planet Wars that’s pretty much ready to go just sitting on my hard drive collecting dust. Couldn’t let that happen could I?

So I’m back in the community-driven XBLIG release process. Fixing bugs here and there, re-uploading and generally whoring out my review services in the hope that someone reviews and approves my game in return.

I’ll probably update this post with the XBLIG review link, if any of you happen to be app hub members. The rest of you, stay tuned for a release soon (hopefully).

Where next for MegaCity?

Where next for MegaCity?

Ok, it’s been a while! So here’s the (relatively) usual update stuff out of the way:

-MegaCity update 1.7 has been released for iOS and Android! I’ve completely re-coded most of the game and it runs much smoother! Hooray!

-There are still some bugs on a small minority of devices on the android side of things, and those will be fixed soon.

-It’s also now available for Kindle, yay!

-The Xbox version will be also updated when Microsoft pay me the earnings they owe me or their XBLIG service closes. Whichever comes first. (I’ve been waiting for my first payment from them for over a year now and my indie games membership has expired). Boo! The same applies for the release of Planet Wars on Xbox. I love the XBLIG service, but it’s severely under-supported by Microsoft, which makes things very difficult.

-MegaCity will almost certainly appear on the OUYA! Oh yeah! Don’t know when exactly. You can thank Clickteam and their awesome upcoming android exporter.

-Obligatory ‘I’m going to update my site more’ statement. I want to document the development of my projects a lot more and not just post when I have an update or whatever. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve posted just to announce a few bug fixes when actually I’ve been working on some much more exciting things! So here goes…

Now for the really exciting stuff, MegaCity 2!

It’s been in my head for a while now; “what is MegaCity 2 going to be?” Some awesome ideas have been cooking, so I finally think I’ll share some ideas with you which I’ve decided are ready for digestion:

1. First thing I want to say is that I’ll probably have a ‘classic mode’ which will be a much updated version of the current game mechanic, because I want to change the way it works quite a lot for the ‘main’ mode. Due to popular request, this will likely also feature an ‘undo’ button.

2. One of the more prominent issues for a lot of people was the randomness of the buildings you would get in the queue. They could make or break your game, no matter how good you were at city planning. At the same time the randomness was what also made it fun and unpredictable  I’ve been thinking a lot on this and I think I’ve come up with a really cool evolution of the mechanic:

The buildings in the queue are essentially like a deck of cards. The card order is randomised (like a shuffled pack) BUT you the player can customise your deck, in a similar way to card games such as magic the gathering.

Once all the cards have gone, your deck is shuffled and you carry on. This way, you do have a certain amount of control over what buildings will appear, and it will also guarantee that you see the cool super-duper buildings you unlock when you play. But it’s also still got that random element. It’s also going to add strategic value to the game, although the amount of customisation will have to be limited to avoid balance issues.

3. The city building will now be competitive! What I mean by that is you will be playing against an opponent who also places tiles, either against an AI or quite possibly in actual multiplayer (tbd).

The way this works at the moment is you take it in turns to each place 4 buildings. This makes placing the buildings such as landfill much more fun as you get to screw over the other player. He’s got a +6 apartment?  Surround it in landfills! You could be a super mean player for example and customise your building deck to have a load of landfill sites.

4. This works in turn with the other big change: The points accumulation is taken from all buildings in play, not just per column. Since your playing against an opponent, it becomes about having more points than them, and not about having the points in the right columns. Careful placement of buildings will still be of the utmost importance to maximize your points while screwing over the opponent and protecting your best buildings. It’s hopefully going to play a little like city building chess.

When the screen advances in MegaCity 1, it gives you more room to build. You can advance the board in MC2 in 2 ways; either by being the first to reach the target number, or by having more points than your opponent when there is no more space. These goals are subject to change depending on testing, and it may be the case that I end up with a few different additional game modes to accommodate them.

But perhaps the best part is that your buildings no longer disappear forever- you can scroll around the level after the play has advanced. Each area contributes to your city, to give you a much better sense that you are actually building something.

5. Different playable (and unlock-able) mayors, each with their own special ability! This will be really cool. I’m not going to say this early about the kinds of abilities each will have, but like the customisable decks it’s going to bring a lot of strategic depth.

6. Here’s what you would probably expect; Looooads more buildings types to unlock. I really want to amp this up, perhaps as many as 100 different buildings.

7. Other cool things: Buildings bigger than 1 square! I’m thinking if you place adjacent buildings of the same type, they can form a ‘super’ 4 square version of that building. I’m not 100% on this yet, it could end up being too much work to implement.

Stackable buildings! stack 3x house tiles for it to become an apartment etc. Again, not 100% sure this will work well yet. The idea will need testing.

8. The main target platforms are PC, Android and iOS. I’d love to get a version on steam, but that’s going to likely be a whole other challenge. Other possible platforms include the OUYA, Mac, Linux and Windows Phone. These will almost certainly be later on though.

Still undecided on the payment model. It’s either going to be a flat price of £3-6 with no micro-transactions. Or the core game is free and you pay to unlock different characters/buildings. I’d like to go with the former, but we’ll see.

I’ve got a whole lot more planned that I haven’t touched on here, but I’ll save that for a later date. It all sounds quite ambitious no? Maybe I’ll have to dial it down a bit, we’ll see. The one thing you can be sure of is that I’ll be working on this night and day for the foreseeable future.