Prototyping: Minizoid

Screenshot_2014-12-12-13-32-15If you have been following me on Twitter you’ll know I’ve been working on some prototyping this week.

With Gunslugs 2 just waiting for some final 2-player mode bug fixes, and a port to ChromeOS, I figured I earned a little break from that project.

The prototyping stage of game development is probably the most fun, it’s where you just throw various ideas around, dive into the code to create new and interesting worlds, and radically change the gameplay every hour !

To be honest, I had this prototype already in different shapes and forms waiting for some more time and attention. It basically started as a little jetpack dude flying around outer-world caves, trying to survive and get to the end of the cave.

This week it seen a slow evolving from that idea towards a more “metroid” type exploration game. The Jetpack has taken a back seat (could be in the game as a great upgrade) and you now roam the caves running and jumping, very much like in metroid!

The coolest stuff is that the cave is completely procedurally generated, and I obviously love developing those things (see a bunch of my previous games).

Right now I’m still searching for the right direction of the gameplay, which is the hardest part in prototyping (and game development). Should the player run+jump? what should the main goal be? what are the various little obstacles and goals you have on your path? .. it’s mostly a lot of trying various things, not being afraid of writing code which will be completely deleted and unused in the final game.

So as a little #FeedbackFriday how about you go and play around in the current prototype (you can’t die, you can’t win, it’s full of bugs, but it’s a rough idea) and let me know what you think in the comments or on twitter?

Minizoid (sorry, Android only for now)

– press “pause” to generate a new cave and start at beginning

The countdown

gs2_oozing

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks!  Basically Gunslugs 2 is feature completed since early last week, and I started porting the code over to iOS.

I talked about this before, but yes I don’t use a 3rd party engine or cross-platform library of any kind so I have to port code manually.

My games all run on my own framework and I have created “copies” of that framework for the various platforms I support.  So there is a Java version for Android, an Object-C version for iOS and a HTML5 version for ChromeOS and browser games.

For desktop I use LibGDX (which IS a 3rd party engine) but actually I use it in a silly way where I put my own framework on top of the LibGDX engine – which in it’s own right uses LwJGL, so I might even be able to cut out the LibGDX middle-man?  However I like the LibGDX tools, the setup, and for pc/mac it doesn’t really matter having extra code cause the game runs fast enough anyway.

My Framework is basically all the initialization code used to create a runnable file which also handles input, sound setup, graphics setup and has methods for rendering images to the screen.

Since most game logic is 95% copy+paste no matter which language you use, it makes porting a task of only a few days. So Gunslugs 2’s android code was ported and running on iPhone in 3/4 days work. At that point I have to play through the game and make sure I made no porting errors causing monsters to fly in wrong directions, status bar images to show the wrong graphics, and more of that silly stuff where you mistype a digit or two.

Sadly I ran into a huge show-stopper. My last game release was back in April, and since then Apple has released the new iOS 8 development kit.. and in short, it changes some stuff as to how your game has to setup the rendering view and how stuff like screen rotation for landscape/portrait is handled breaking my framework!

So Gunslugs 2 flipped out on iOS8 devices! Rendering only half the screen, or starting in portrait mode while the device was in landscape.. this literally wasted two days with me trying to hunt the problem in my framework code.

Eventually I decided to do a complete re-write of my iOS framework, starting a new project from scratch and adding all the rendering, touch and audio code. I also got some help from pkMinhas who fixed my old framework code and combining that solution with my new framework code gives a very clean and updated codebase for my games. It now builds nicely against the iOS8 development kit, still runs perfect on older (iOS 6) devices, and has a lot less garbage code in it.

My original framework was an evolution of the iOS 3.0 version I created back in 2010 while learning iOS .. so it probably wasn’t the best codebase to start with in the first place ;)

Anyway, the App store closes on December 22nd.. so my target is to have Gunslugs2 approved before it closes, so that I can send out review codes and make sure the game is ready for a January 15th release.. it’s a plan!

Why not use a 3rd party game engine?

Finally a few words on this topic, I know there are tools and libraries out there that handle all the cross-platform stuff so that you don’t have to worry about it or put time into porting. Tools like Unity, LibGDX, Cocos-2d  and many more.

The reason I don’t use them is pretty simple in my view: my games are a business, I live from the money they make, so I need to make sure they work. If Apple or Google suddenly decide to change their platform all over again, or add new functionality like they did in the past with controller support, or changing how touch-events are processed, etc. Then I need to make sure my games are updated and keep working.. cause if they fail, I don’t sell them, and I don’t make any money.

Now in many cases the 3rd party tools will update within days to weeks. However sometimes it’s not interesting for them and it takes longer.. at that point I have a problem.

Besides the big platforms like Google Play and Appstore I also provide my games to lesser known platforms or companies. Various companies make tablets for specific things like hotels, or restaurants, or kids in a specific market, etc.  In some cases these require changes cause they don’t run the official Android software.  Not having to wait for a 3rd party to add support for it means I can get my games on there a lot faster by changing my own framework.

And finally there are always new platforms around the corner. One such platform is ChromeOS of which I’m a big fan, and altho 3rd parties often provide HTML5 support, it’s not exactly the same as ChromeOS requires some changes to support trial-modes and other stuff I can’t mention at this time cause it’s under NDA ;)

 

 

Fighting the final boss

Note: Vote for Gunslugs 2 on Greenlight

If all goes to plan, I should be wrapping up the work on Gunslugs 2 this week.  The only big thing left to add is the final boss and some animations and “the end” stuff.

There are still various small things I might change and add in the coming weeks, but basically it makes the game feature complete and I plan on starting the porting to iOS and ChromeOS versions at that point.

This past week I’ve mostly put my time into fixing a bunch of small annoyances that I couldn’t ignore any longer. Small things like having the camera show more of the level in-front of you when you drive a tank, or the statusbar showing a heart-icon while you carry a shield is now changed to actually showing a shield icon.. it’s silly minor details that take very little time to do but it’s also something you normally don’t want to work on while creating a game.

gs2_oozing

The upside of all these small things is that I had a real sense of being productive while my list of “fix this!” stuff kept shrinking at a very fast pace. I also did the graphical work on the final world (check the short video above) and wrote the code for some nice new “slime-bomb” shooting obstacles that you’ll find in the last world.. they are seriously hard to defeat but the last world should be a challenge.

Now you might think that the release will be soon, since the work is close to being finished, so that probably needs some more explaining.

Gunslugs 2 will be released around mid-January 2015 on Android (and android-consoles), iOS, Windows, Linux, OSX, and ChromeOS.  Part of the reason is that I still need some weeks to port to all platforms, I’ll also will try to get some early builds out to the press and all that takes time and planning.

Another, big, reason is that November and December are terrible to release games in if your marketing budget is close to zero. All the big companies are releasing huge games with huge marketing budgets (think millions of $$$), besides: it’s holiday season! so a lot of people are actually not even playing games !

Basically releasing Gunslugs 2 now, would be like shouting “hello world” in my backyard. I might get some attention from people who happen to be nearby, but most people in the world won’t even take notice. And that would of course mean I worked for 6 months on a game that hardly anybody will play and that will definitely not be a source of income for me.

So while I develop the final boss for the game, I have my own “final boss fight” to attent to, and that is trying to create a buzz for Gunslugs 2, getting some PR going, working hard on getting the bigger game sites talking about Gunslugs 2 (positively) and if all goes to plan I might actually earn some money covering the costs of development (at least 6 months, preferably more cause I’ll need time to work on the next game as well).

Of course you can help with all that ! if you happen to do “Let’s play” video’s, contact me! or if you got some cool fan-art, tweet to OrangePixel and it will get you some retweets and love, and if you actually write for a big game site, I can get you a review build in the coming weeks! ;)

 

Oh my god, it’s almost done!

So this coming Tuesday (11th) marks the 6th month of development on Gunslugs 2.

At times it feels longer, so I’m actually surprised it has been “only” six.  With Heroes of Loot I was at least on 8 months of full-time development, and seeing how big Gunslugs 2 has become it’s not bad at all ! (yay procedural generation)

This week I’ve been wrapping up the end-boss for the Avalon world (world 6) and started work on the final world (world 7!) from which you can see some bits and pieces in the video above.

I obviously also had the release of the demo, which went pretty ok, sadly not a lot of coverage from press or websites but let’s just stay confident that will work out eventually. This is mostly due to the busy november and december months where a LOT of games are being released and most of those games have marketing budgets bigger than what I make in a couple of years combined.. which is one of the reasons I’m delaying the game’s official release until January 2015 (as previously announced).

gs2_alienlair

I expect to have the game completed, maybe, by the end of next week or the week after. Then I still need to do some testing, and of course the task of porting all the code over to the iPhone/iPad and then a HTML5 port for ChromeOS. So all that combined will still take me some weeks, and we all know how December flies by with all the holidays!

If all goes to plan, I have the game ready to go in early or mid December, including uploaded to app-stores and hopefully available for early review.  It doesn’t look like Greenlight will happen before then, so I’ll at least have the pc/mac version sold in www.gunslugs.com using the Humble widget.

There will be a sort of early access thing happening this coming week, but I’ll post more about that when it goes live ;)

Gunslugs 2 demo now available

gs2demo_gunchickIt’s here!

A playable demo of Gunslugs 2 for PC,Mac and Linux:  www.gunslugs.com

There are still some rough edges in the game, but it should give a great indication on what the game will eventually be.  The demo takes you through the opening scene, first world, end boss and includes the train crash, so it’s a nice little slice of Gunslugs 2 action.

The game requires Java to run (so if you’re on windows8, you have to download that cause it’s not pre-installed). It has some controller support, sadly not all controller/os combinations work, but it’s also very playable with the keyboard.

I also created a few promo trailers that will be posted on social media and forums in the next few days/hours, so look out for those!  Here’s the first one:

 

 

 

Gunslugs 2 going to Avalon

Up there is a new little trailer I’ve put together showing most of the stuff that have been added since the last trailer and video’s.  So check out the awesome new smoke and debri, various little weapon changes, a huge crashing spaceship, and some of the first moving images of the Avalon planet.

It’s also the first time you get to hear some of the new Gunslugs2 music thanks to Gavin, so enjoy that one as well !

gs_starship

As for progress on the game, due to various things I’m currently leaning towards pushing the release of the game towards January. This is a mostly business related move that I can’t talk about much, but trust me, it’s hard having to push the game even further.. but it will be worth it in the end.

So right now I’m also looking at options on how I can possibly get the game into people’s hands a bit early.  I have two options, one is releasing the much over due PC,Mac, Linux playable-demo version.. which would probably help with the Greenlight status.

The other option is releasing an Early-Access version on Google Play or maybe even the Ouya. It would be a cool thing to have, but I can also see issues with that in the long run.

The demo version has the least downsides right now, because with the early-access I know I’ll disappoint some people who won’t be able to play it (ios users to name a large group of my audience).

So most likely I’ll be pushing towards a freely available demo version for desktop. It would also require the least work at this point, as I just need to strip out some content and implement controller-support. Basically I could have all that done this week.

 

Marketing material and new worlds

googleplus_banner_480x270

 

This week the awesome marketing artwork was completed, so I took some time to update all the social media pages and the main Gunslugs landing page with banners and imagery. For the high-res marketing art I usually ask somebody more talented then me, cause no matter what I draw in high-res, I always see the little problems and details that I messed up and it will haunt me forever ;)

So the amazing Gunslugs2 artwork was done by Scott Tykoski, who also did the art for Heroes of Loot, Groundskeeper2 and Meganoid2.. so I guess you can say he is my go-to guy for this and I highly recommend him and you should follow him on twitter at the least!

Screenshot_2014-10-02-23-00-00Besides all the marketing work I did do a lot of stuff on the game. One interesting change I did was double the shooting speed of the main gun.. and this made the game so much more enjoyable and action packed it’s ridiculous that such a tiny change can have such an impact.  The main reason I did it, was that I found the default gun a bit lacking compared to the other weapons in the game.. well that’s fixed now ;)

I also started working on the 6th world, and based on that decided that the game will also need a 7th world. As you can see we are taking the Gunslugs up into space, instead of down into Hell like the previous game. This opens up some new idea’s and if I ever decide to do a 3rd Gunslugs game there is room for more interesting locations.

Screenshot_2014-10-08-15-14-45

Other work on Gunslugs2 this week was getting many small fixes done, and also putting some extra care and attention to the in-door area’s. Adding scenery to spice up the environments and make it all seem more “full”.

And finally I’ve been spending a lot of time getting the game “shops” working and adding items to them. Right now there are a couple of “shield costumes” an adrenaline kit giving you extra health, and an ammo-extender which is cheap and gives you 2 bullets extra every time you purchase it.. still some items to add, and of course ideas are welcome!

In the mean time Gavin is hard at work on the new music, the first two tunes are 99% done and will make you whistle them long after you quit the game !

As for release date, I think I missed all deadlines I gave myself so far, so I’m not even gonna talk about that yet. I still plan on doing a pc/mac demo, also to help out the Greenlight process for Steam, and I’m working as fast as I can!

I also took some time this week to give some much over due attention to one of my “older” games. Meganoid 2 was still waiting for an Ouya and FireTV release as I had a lot of requests from people to release it on those consoles.  The problem, as embarrassing as it is, was that I once started to improve the interface of the game, screwed it up, got distracted with other things, and never had the guts to dive back in and fix all the issues with it..

Even more embarrassing is that it took me only 2 or 3 hours to get the interface fixed, the game updated and working with controllers, and released.. so ..yeah.. could have done that months ago!

So be sure to check out Meganoid 2 over at Ouya or FireTV or even at Google Play ,cause it’s updated for all the latest Android versions and options, and it’s still a very fun and challenging game !

Crossing the t’s

frame_001

 

So after spending a week mostly campaigning for Gunslugs 2 on Steam Greenlight, I also managed to have a week full of coding and drawing.  Note: you can still vote, follow and favorite Gunslugs2 on Greenlight, so please do! All follows and favorites also help getting it on Steam, I can promise you the game is extremely playable on PC/Mac !

The current status of development feels like it’s crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. At the end of almost every day I sit and play while taking a lot of little notes of things that need fixing, improving, changing, or sometimes removing. So that the next day I can browse the list and handle all the things I wrote down.  This play-testing is done on the Amazon Fire TV, with a Red Samurai 2 controller, and I must say this game really feels at home on a console.. can’t wait for more AndroidTV devices to hit the market soon!

Anyway, I also had a couple of people play test the game so they also had feedback on various things that I took a good look at to decide if they were right or if I was right and they are simply wrong ;)

The idea is that all these tweaks and changes hopefully make the final game in such a state that most people will appreciate it and not many complaints can be given; unless you downright don’t like games like this.

hellworm

Just a little list of the various things that got changed this last few weeks:

  • various explosions and flying particles are improved, some were to small, others were to big.
  • Enemies are now more capable of jumping over crates/objects to chase you.
  • Later enemies now carry more powerful weapons (this then required a whole new round of balancing things out)
  • changing your weapon now makes an “airy throw” noise
  • the Hell-worm from part 1 is back
  • small weapon/item shops are added, including first 4 various “shield” types
  • different weapon sounds are added/improved
  • Driving vehicles is now not limited by crates/objects, you can shoot those

And that’s just the list-size of a single day of tweaks and fixes. A lot of time is now also put into adding the shops, basically these replace the buildings from the original Gunslugs. Altho right now they are just useful and there are no hidden mini-games and such yet, I’m not sure if I’ll find time to add them in the first release version, but it’s always something fun to add in updates.  The shops are now also re-enterable as long as you don’t buy anything. So if you run into a shop and don’t have enough money, you can always go back in when you do have more coins.

Screenshot_2014-09-24-15-01-36

The graphics for the final world are now also on their way, so the big issues left right now is two big bosses, some new enemies for the final world, and maybe a cut scene or two and a “completed game” scene.

I’ve also been working on creating the official Gunslugs 2 website, the current one at www.gunslugs.com is more a placeholder until all the art is ready, which I’m hoping it will be next week and the new site can go online.

Gavin has found his inspiration for some of the new music, so that’s also coming together.. and it’s becoming a slightly nervous time as we near a release version!

I think that late October / early November is still a possible release date, it’s at least something I’m really targeting and working towards, so we’ll see if everything works out :)

 

Gunslugs 2 are gunning for Greenlight

This weekend I dabbled with Screenflow and started creating the teaser trailer you see above. It’s my first self-made trailer, and I’m pretty pleased with the end result. The hardest task of creating a great trailer has been finding the right tools, and I’m happy to say that Screenflow has it all, from screen recording without lag or problems, to full editing of clips, adding effects, etc.. it’s pretty cool software and the best I’ve found for osX.

Now, the main reason I created the trailer, besides having an awesome trailer, is that I decided to finally get my games onto Steam, and that means I have to get Gunslugs2 through the Greenlight process.

This basically mean that the game needs to get enough votes and attention from YOU so that I can eventually distribute the game through Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.

So please, if you want, head over to the Gunslugs 2 Greenlight page, and give it your vote:
Steamcommunity.com


 

If you have any questions just ask them here or on Steam, and I’ll make sure to answer !