Thursday, April 13, 2017

Optimizations..!

Moving right along. Many heroes for my idle game have been animated and fully programmed, along with the main systems for particle effects and such. With some more art and features underway, it should be playable quite soon.

Unlike Zombie Guard, I'll be releasing this sooner rather than later, followed by more regular updates to features and bugs. Eventually it will make its way to some of the bigger portals like Kongregate, then, as a standalone app for Apple and Google Play.

This is an HTML5 game that plays well on a PC/Mac browser with superb performance. I played it on my phone as well, both in the Chrome browser app, and, as a standalone app by packaging it with CocoonJS.

The good


Everything just frickin' works so I do not have to waste time porting my game to a different library for a different platform. HTML5 is proving to be very useful and I hold a lot of trust in its future. The design of this game allows me to introduce additional features over time. Google Chrome has incredible features to debug and benchmark performance so it will help tremendously. I would much rather debug on my PC, rather than fire up some esoteric software packages to extract debug information off my phone, for bugs that only appear on the device and not the simulator *cringe*.

The bad


The game can run quite slow on mobile devices like my Android phone. I can work with this, by sprinkling critical optimizations here and there. Particle effects will have to be reduced as that seems heavily expensive, likely due to the code compared to the actual rendering. Compressing all the code with Minifier helps a tiny, but it is better than nothing.


The game has excellent performance on PC, despite many art assets and animations.


Eventually I will be able to compile all LiveScript files to Javascript, reduce and obfuscate the Javascript with a service like Minifier, and then upload to a private domain along with recent changes. All this will be done automatically with a build tool like TeamCity which came recommended to me.

So, enough tech talk...



I recognize I have been going even further into a casual gaming direction. My previous work already was fairly casual, and now this idle game even more-so. The market for these kinds of games is strong and reliable despite the competition. My plan however is to create something far more artistic, stylized, and meaningful, following this idle game.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Idle, and why?... because botting is fun!

I want to share with you my motivation for making an idle game, a quickly growing genre in the past several years. These are games that do not require a lot of hands-on time to play. To me it just all comes down to one thing: progression. And steady progression tends to feel rewarding and "fun" to the player. It can be addictive.

One of my favorite idle games is not even an actual idle game. It is Diablo II that still has a community of online players. The game gets very tedious near the end of the game, to further progress and find items. That is where botting comes in, using custom scripts. Basically you design a character, play through the interesting content, and then have a program do most of the rest.

Sounds ridiculous and pointless right? But it actually is fun, to check in and find that your character mindlessly found that extremely rare item with a 0.000002% chance of dropping, while you slept through the night. You can then further refine your character by trading items online and revising the script files to improve your character, in order to reach level 99 more quickly - this takes an insane amount of actual time even for a bot.

Wait, it gets better. You can buy additional CD keys and run multiple characters at the same time. This is not my video, but it demonstrates the point:


By doing this, you get to find those extremely rare items more quickly, to arm additional characters. This way of "playing" transforms the game experience from skill to optimization strategies. Like, being a coach rather than an athlete.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Global Game Jam 2017

Global Game Jam 2017 was recently held worldwide. The event just keeps getting bigger with more cities and locations participating each successive year. NYC alone had over 500 participants hosted in the Microsoft Building in Times Square.





I showed up and collaborated with five others (four, after one had an emergency the first evening). We used the Unity engine and Discord to communicate easily and share extra files. I was really impressed by Unity's collaborate feature - built-in cloud source control.

The theme was "waves", which was open to interpretation - especially for fluent English speakers. Waves may only translate to physics based waves suggested by the keynote video, and not the additional interpretation of gestured hand waves.

This was the first game jam ever where I wrote virtually no code. I was basically an assistant artist, filling in gaps, and hunting down audio. So, needless to say, it was fairly relaxed for me, with the exception of the 36 miles I walked according to Google Fit.




.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Prototyping some interfaces

This is a stage of development where big decisions need to be made. I have to design the interface and most of the game design at the same time. I already have some idea of how this game will be played, by merging ideas from two existing games together: Clicker Heroes and Zombidle. This may be the first game I make that has the feature of guilds to offer a social aspect.

Interface sketches to elicit solid design ideas.

I have a good feeling about this project. I have gotten a better grasp on this type of genre, which is "clicker" or "idle" oriented. I actually play a few. It offers a great sense of endless progression and should be easier to balance over games that are designed to be played continuously in long sessions. For example, traditional first-person-shooters and strategy games can easily feel too easy or too hard if not balanced correctly, and is contingent on the player's skill, anyways.

It will be technically difficult to handle cheating if I make this game competitive online. Frankly, based on income from Zombie Guard, ads earn far more money than in-app purchases (thanks Google!). So, as long as people are playing the game, cheating or not, it ought to be lucrative anyways. I plan on having currency earned by watching video ads from time to time - it may sound incredibly greedy, but it simply works; as a player, I do not mind at all if it is optional.

Zombie Guard is more of an arcade game that has some freemium features tacked on. The player eventually runs out of gas to continue playing levels, unless they wait three hours in real life to earn more. Based on critical remarks, I eventually neutralized that feature so the game is more of an arcade game. Again, ads earned more, so I had less incentive to encourage players to buy gas "pay to play". Scratch Tickets on the other hand, had a similar three hour freemium feature, but it succeeded because of the limited depth of the game.

This game will have a little bit of randomness and a little bit of strategy. The various upgrades, heroes, items, and fighting locations will offer an interesting long term experience, especially as it grows with features post-release.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Heroes!

Basically all the characters for my "clicker/idle" game is finished, with various poses and animations. I've become more efficient using Clip Studio Paint, easily able to do line work and fills with shading in a simple two layer process. It's an excellent program.


I have forced myself to attempt poses that have more energy compared to characters from my previous games.

Now, I can move onto the programming, before I work on all the less important art and interfaces. First, I am making programming and design changes to Gassy Goat, which I have delayed releasing because I was not satisfied with its design.

Zombie Guard has gotten a few patches on Google Play in the past month. That app has performed quite well and income through AdMob and in-app purchases is quite nice. The game is expected to reach half a million downloads in the coming months.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"Go Idle"

I have settled on making an "idle game" for my fifteenth project. Idle games are gaining a lot of popularity these days. They tend to be very basic and straight forward, where progress is gained over a long period of time. Generally people can play for as little as five minutes a day, checking on progress, and setting course for progress over time. Optionally, players can gain progress more quickly by doing tedious tasks like clicking an object repeatedly.

Here are some heroes that offer more dynamic animated poses, compared to my usual character design.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Adobe Animate CC and CocoonJS

Wow.. wow.. wow..! I downloaded the trial for the new Adobe Animate CC. Not only does it fully support HTML5, but it is fast. I took my HTML5 test project, uploaded it to CocoonJS and it spat out an Android APK app at full landscape resolution. It runs just fine at full frame rate.

In other words.. this is going to save me a lot of time. I can now create HTML5 web apps quickly, with the easy option to deploy to the mobile app stores.

It simply works.