From The Sun: Tutorial and A Simple Level

Been working on some level planning tools and refining the UI for From The Sun.

My initial toolset was an editor that placed each obstacle individually. This grew tedious quickly and I started setting up groups of spawns as waves and a couple of basic types of waves to generate programmatically. My favorite of those types was one that divided the screen by fifths, picked a random ordering for each of those subdivisions to get a waves, then use the same ordering to place five pieces of debris within the subdivision. I liked it because it created a good spread that hit every point on the screen but wasn't too hard to avoid, plus the first wave of debris describes where the rest of the waves will be on the screen. Those are still in use in the sample level, but there are some new types that I'm generating as well.

In addition to the generative waves I added some new tools to create groups of debris using splines. Following the Cat Like Coding spline tutorial I was able to learn a lot more about custom editor tools to help me lay out paths of debris. Next up will be composite debris that consists of multiple types of debris as a single physical object. That will allow for some interesting debris to navigate that rotates as a unit.

The UI has a new side bar layout that uses its background as a quick color indicator, plus easier to read score, and a less distracting ammo icon. There's also a tutorial that helps describe the mechanics of color changing and gathering ammo.

One big task that I have't even started approaching is audio. I should find some creative commons music and sound effects to use, at least for now.

Play and comment please!

Direct Link To Game

Test level of From The Sun

This is the first build of a game I've been working on for a little while. You control a photon travelling through space. Collision with other photons give you energy, which you can use to destroy obstacles. WASD to move and space to shoot.

Link to web build.

An Open Letter to Gen Con

Dear Gen Con organizers,

To preface: I know you have a couple one time events that cause huge server loads, the opening of event registration is one of these times.

That said, the wishlist system you're using, and which thousands of people are fighting against this morning, is terrible. I'm writing this in 3382nd place in line to try and reserve tickets to an event that's already sold out. I'll be in this line for probably another hour. There is no way to leave this line even though I know the only thing at the end of it is disappointment. This brings me to my first suggestion for next year:

1. Allow your users to cancel waiting on a wishlist to process.

Now this leads into another issue with your system: it's overloaded. That's why the lists take so long to process, and of course additional database or memory operations would be required to allow cancelling, adding to the already great load on your servers. Clearly it would be overkill to invest in a big server cluster for the two times per year, housing registration and event registration, that you get this kind of traffic. Which brings me to my second suggestion for next year:

2. Make use of a 3rd party system to scale and load balance these two yearly events.

There are plenty of services available that will enable you to run this wishlist system or the housing lottery on their servers. These services allow you to scale up automatically as traffic increases and you pay for the time you use, paying extra for only these high traffic events rather than investing in the hardware to handle this kind of traffic at any time.

I think these are two fairly simple, although nuanced, steps that GenCon LLC can take to improve your customer's experience at a reasonable expense. I understand that handling this many customers at once is a big problem and I appreciate that you provide the service at all, these are my observations as an end user.

Thank you for all you do to make an amazing con,
A currently frustrated, but otherwise satisfied customer.

 

Discussion on Reddit

Ludum Dare 35 and Circumstances Beyond My Control

CAUTION, CARTOON WEINERS AHEAD

Got me and Karl's Ludum Dare 35 entry submitted almost a week ago now.

For the theme 'shapeshift' we went with our idea of a reverse werewolf, cursed to change from a regular wolf to a helpless naked human during the full moon and be hunted by the wolves. The ultimate goal of the game is to kill the gypsy queen to free yourself from the curse.

We changed the idea for the plot a lot as we went, finally settling on this one early last Sunday. Until then we had considered setting it up in a zoo instead of the woods. There would have been an inventory and some sort of goal acheivable by going around the zoo and trading items for tips. Once we realized that was too much to try to put in we scaled down the scope to what we have now.

Karl made some assets that didn't end up in the final submission because I didn't have the development time Monday after work that I had planned on having, thanks a mechanical problem with a bridge on my way home. I felt so impotent seeing the time tick away while traffic failed to move, my 1 hour commute taking just over 2 hours. Luckily I still had time to actually upload a build and submit it during the submission grace period.

Today I took the assets from Karl that didn't make it into the submission and put them into the game so we can at least show what should have been. Play that new complete build here.

Here's some of the initial art, as well as zoo art, that didn't make the final version:

Reverse werewolf #1, too happy

Reverse werewolf #1, too happyPompous Lion

Pompous Lion

 

 

Helpful Giraffe

Helpful Giraffe

His flashlight doesn't even work, budget cuts are rough.

His flashlight doesn't even work, budget cuts are rough.

 

Clash Royale: Addicting AND Maddening

Since my phone is ancient and useless I have started loving a new large black vibrating device, which of course is my tablet. I am first off ashamed to call myself a mobile developer but not even play the latest games (mainly because of that stupid phone). So catching up to what's "hip" in the mobile market, I decided to download and play Supercell's new game "Clash Royale" which is another game that seems to be addicting, popular, and has a screaming white guy as the icon. I'll say this, Supercell knows what they are doing, because 5 minutes into the training I am having a blast just playing against the computer.

The nutshell of gameplay is that I have 3 towers I am trying to protect while also trying to destroy the other player's 3 towers by placing troop cards onto the battlefield. As my "Elixir" bar fills up, I simply drag a troop card down to an area on the battlefield and it spawns and begins trying to destroy whatever it is programmed to. What's even better is that the game encourages me to join a clan and trade troop cards with each other and after doing it for the first time I get an achievement of a few precious precious game gems which is the currency that I need for EVERYTHING.

Now since I am playing this for 50% entertainment and 50% research I decided to not spend my own money and try to play it completely freemium. I will admit that I am new to this world having human money that turns into game currency A, which turns into currency B, which is used to buy in game items so I can do more.. but my main grievance is was in how I felt misled into spending my game currency A when I didn't need to. And in Clash Royale’s terms that currency is “gems”.  Below is the Battle Select screen where I can decide if I want to play another game as well as decide to open up my delicious booty.. I mean treasure chests. Now the key point here is that I only get a max of 4 chests to hold on to at all times and I want those chests to be opened ASAP. More opened chests means more new cards (unless of course I just want to spend all of my human money).

When the game first gave me my first chest (cuz ya know, I rocked so hard at that first training level that I deserved only the best first treasure chest in the game), it stated the the chest was locked, so like any proud winner desiring the spoils of battle, I wanted to unlock it. It is this moment in time that annoyed me so much because the chest was Locked for "15 secs" and not knowing what that meant, I clicked it. Suddenly I see a 15 second countdown and the words "Open Now" for 5 gems. Well of course I am going to open it now! I don't want to miss my first chance at that sweet sweet loot!! So I did this over and over for the first 5+ chests or so and spent about 25+ gems of my starting pool of 100. Little did I know that what this really meant was "the chest will open up in 15 secs OR I can pay gems to open it now." BAAAA!!! So many gems lost! WHY? WHY DID I DO THIS? WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE READ “This Chest will open in X or If you need to open it now, Pay X” ???!??!?!  …………… well I am going to answer my own question and say that would be much too much copy on the screen. But still, I LOST FAKE MONEY!!!

 

Am I mad? Nah.

Have I spent any money? Nope.

Is this game super addicting with ninja fast matchmaking, high polish, and great fun thus I am still playing it? no.. YES!

*Sigh* … I have become a monster perhaps my ancient phone was wise and became a piece of crap to protect me... then again my lovely tablet is now always here by my side ensuring that the dopamine is always flowing.

 

Hello World!