Tag: Game Art

Feedback, Schmeedback

“That’s a great milestone!” someone replied to me on Twitter when I was making the announcement of Oggipital, and mentioned it went into beta testing at the same time. Well, beta and beta. Very early beta. But who cares about the wordings of development phases in a small indie game studio anyway.

It is, of course, a great milestone. WIth the announcement and distribution of the game to outside players, it’s kind of the point of no return. If I back out of this NOW…that’ll be embarrassing . Actually, it wouldn’t be in normal circumstances, but my intention is to be – become – a game developer full-time, and for the time well into the future. Plus, my motto is to make games I want to play, so it would be silly to not develop such a game. When I already started to.

But apart from a great milestone it’s a very stressful situation, too. Maybe it is just because it’s my first game announcement, but I had that awful nagging feeling for a full three-four days and nights, “what if this is complete crap, what if I have a really bad bug in there for the testers?”. Even though one should just take it easy and announce games early on and take the feedback from the audience – be it a closed test group, Twitter, or readers of a blog – as constructive criticism, humans seldom work like this. So it’s pretty nerve-wracking to wait for the first real feedback on a game.

Thank Darwin I started the testing with external people. In retrospect I should have done it earlier but I always feel like I need to have some parts of the game near final before I do it. In this case it was the core game mechanics. I closed some serious bugs the last week before beta and did some very needed adjustments to the core mechanics.

And I got immediate and good feedback – first, I was naturally like “screw this!”, but it didn’t take me many hours to see what needs to be done, and then I was back in the creative loop I so love about game development. The feedback was unanimous: the game’s impossible to comprehend without a wayyy clearer way to show beginners how it’s done. And it’s correct – the game has rules which are not logically derivable. Even if there aren’t many rules, not getting the main ones will result in complete player frustration. By “not derivable” I mean rules like “you must cut like this, but you cannot cut like that”, and the “cannot” being just due to a rule I made up, one that you cannot visually spot in the game.

I had only first-revision help pages in the game, available only in-play behind a “?” button. Pushed by the feedback of my testers, I am now implementing an active/interactive tutorial, which is offered as the first thing a new player should do before playing a real round. In addition to being really fun to implement, it teaches me also a way of looking at the game, and gives a fresh view on the gameplay. AND I get really accustomed to Cocos2D animation functions. šŸ™‚

I’m working with draft art on the tutorial still, but for the sake of Screenshot Saturday, enjoy this complimentary shot of the tutorial. It’s on the house!

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Please pay attention. You there, in the back row! Rought night, last night, eh?

Screenshot Saturday #3 and Various Ramblings

I’ve realized I haven’t really spilled any beans on the first game I’m making. There’s a whole science behind how and when indie developers should announce their game and the general consensus is “as early as possible”, while the other angle being “if I now tell my awesome idea to the public, there will be someone ripping me off and releasing a clone of my game earlier than I can push it out”. Valid points, both of them – just look at the mess the awesome Dutch game studio Vlambeer has been facing. I gotta admit, I have a slight, irrational fear of losing the worth of my work by some a-hole cloning my game idea and releasing it faster than the original. I say irrational, while it is clear I have no real traction in the game development community (YET!) and who the heck would actually stumble upon my idea and decide to clone it. But the issue is a bit deeper than this – my fear is not so much a fear, but a realistic computation of when it actually makes sense to spill my beans. It has to do with the equation of how much I have implemented right now, and how much I have left to do: in case the game announcement gets traction in the press, I, just like anyone, would like to be sure I can push through and get the game out there in due time. Hopefully faster than any competitor. Another factor for me is the state of the art [sic] – I prefer to have the grand part of the graphics of the game finalized/near finalization before making the official announcement. Kind of “having something to show for real”. This could be a Finnish mentality thingy. And perhaps something I drag along from my previous work in a bit heavier financial IT projects.

But I’m sure the announcement and releasing of the next game will be different in the positive meaning. This slight irrational fear is bound to go away when I am more seasoned in game development, I am sure.

Well, the previous post certainly left us with hopes for a more informative blog post. Describing the developer side of the game making is probably interesting mostly to the fellow developers. And there was some features I forgot completely I had actually implemented when I posted the previous post!

Let’s take a look on a more recent screenshot. Please keep in mind that the art is still only mockups. And don’t mind the debug texts there, they are for testing the scene transitions.

The feature I forgot to mention is that red/black bonehead of a guy you see in the screenshot above. Yes, da Oggiput, he’s now in the game, and messing it up but only if you mess up first – he pops into the playfield when the player does an erroneous move. The usage of him has evolved a bit from the original idea: I think I will use him as “lives” in the game, in the traditional “three lives and you’re out” kind of way. That way the game gets a bit more dynamics into it – but rest assured, it is still very unforgiving about errors and will pop up that Game Over screen in no time.

There is only one finalized feature you see in the screenshot – the timer bar on the left. No, the particle effect on it is not finalized. The timer, or “burndown” as I also call it, has a few other uses in the game than just a timer. Surely it will remind you that the time is up once it burns down to the bottom, but if you pay attention to the gradient colors of it, you may see that the gradient’s color, order, and relative size seems to correlate with the Kisau Veelas on the playfield. Wink, wink. This was a fun thing to code, BTW.

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Let’s treat you to another screenshot as I spoke so vastly about scenes and layers in the previous post. The “Level Up” is a feature I came up with while testing the initial prototype of the game and I think this feature gives the game much more longevity. We have, with Pietari, a certain minimalistic take on the game so I have to be careful not to overdo it with new features, but this one is certainly going in. Ta daa, hereby follows the official beanspilling of the goal of the game: to get a high score. Yes, how disappointing. All this just to get some points? Well, arcade games are quite often like that.

And for that purpose the Level Up is a good feature. With only the “Level Up” text and the Play and Menu button as finalized art, you can get a sense of leveling up meaning to get another Kisau Veela into play for the next round, thus making the next round harder. How many you will start with and how many you will end with is still up for tuning on my side, but most likely I’ll go for fourĀ Kisau Veelas to start, and six for the last round, thus making three levels in the game. So, in these three levels you’re chasing that highscore to brag with among your friends. A pretty pure gaming experience, in my humble opinion.

This is a Silly Status Update

I really hate blog posts where the writer starts with excuses why there has not been much activity on the blog lately. So I won’t write one.

The location of the office for the company has moved. And while the company is a rather small one-person game studio at this time, the “we’re moving office” is an indirect way of saying me and my family moved – we’re located back in Finland into our new old house now. Took a bit longer than expected.

Even though coding has ceased pretty much competely for the last month, there’s been some action in the peripherals of game development. Aside of getting a proper home office (yes, I probably need to write one of those blog posts soon), I had finally the time and the place to order a development device – an iPad Mini – and I’m just short of registering it via Xcode to run the game on a real device for the first time. While wifey’s iPhone got smashed on a concrete floor I ordered a 5c in the same go, and now there’s an iPhone 4 & iPad 2 with iOS 6, and a 4S, iPad Mini, and 5c, these with iOS 7, in da house. That should be a good-enough testing bed for the near future. Furthermore, and partly driven by the need of a dedicated dev device, my company is now registered as an Apple iOS developer. Woohoo. It took about a week and a half but all in all the process was pretty smooth; no surprises, no hiccups, except the one fear that calling that weird long-distance call to frigging Luxembourg to activate my account could potentially have costed more than the yearly subscription fee of the whole dev program. I’ve heard miscellaneous horror stories about it but my experience was pretty much by the book and I had to listen to the “you’re on hold” song in bad quality for only 20 minutes.

Just before starting the journey back home – hey, it was only five days in the car with two kids and two dogs – I also commissioned Pietari Posti for some new art. He’s got a new web site BTW, check it out, pretty sweet. I had the PSD in my inbox forever, annoying the hell out of me every time I saw it as my fingers itched to put those sprites into the spritesheets and finalize some effects in the game.Ā But now it looks like I get to

PLAY-sprites

the game for real on a real device for the first time! And I promise, this blog will get at least

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no,

Multiplier_4

no no, no,

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better in the near future!

The Oggiput

In addition to the Kisau Veelas, the other character in the puzzle game is this bone-headed guy,Ā the Oggiput.

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Da Oggiput, yo!

He sure looks like one grumpy guy who will mess with your game, so you will probably want to get rid of him as soon as you spot him. Who knows what kind of damage he will otherwise do to your new high score you’ve been hunting for the whole morning in the bus on your way to the office? Squash him like the bug he is!

Or maybe he is just misunderstood. He can’t help his rather scary looks and thick skull, clinking into everything in his path. Perhaps he has a heart of gold. Shall we forgive him?

But then again, the Kisau Veelas do not seem super eager to meet him.

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Kisau Veelas not diggin’ it.

I’m a bit puzzled about this. Tee hee, puzzled by a puzzle game. Who writes this stuff?! You’re fired!

Meet the Kisau Veelas

“An indie game developer does not exist before he has some screenshots posted on his blog”, some ingenious game developer said. I think it was actually me on Twitter. Anywhoo, I am pleased to introduceĀ the Kisau Veelas to you! These funny guys are one of the main characters in the upcoming puzzle game.

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Hit play to play!

They’re a bit shy in this start menu image above, but they will get used to you.

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Falling down. Without Michael Douglas.

Ā And goes without saying, these are only the first drafts of the style and characters of the game, by no means the final art of the game. But look at this one on the left go! Whee! Awesome.

If you are curious on who made these, I shall proudly presentĀ Pietari Posti, easily one of the best current illustrators in Europe if not in the world. His illustration style is kinda art nouveau- and art deco-ish, which I’ve always liked in print – to the extent that I have this style of posters, which I’ve hunted down on my travels, framed on my wall. Not from Pietari, though – yet.

We’ve got a bunch of these Kisau Veelas, and about six of them are going to make it to the game. Furthermore, there will be another boneheaded character in the game which we’ll present in later posts. Also coming up in later posts; more about the game itself. It would be rude not to write about the game itself, huh? But for now you have to settle with another draft of some of the Veelas, here you go:

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Ooga and booga? No.

Excellent. I like these.