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Designing an Achievement system for Last Call

October 16, 2010terence

After I got all the technical “bits” of Game Center working for the Leaderboard and Achievement System for Last Call, it came time to design an achievement system for the game. As soon as I started with it, I found out that it was a lot more complex then what I initially imagined.

From the technical standpoint, an achievement system gets into all parts of your code from the scoring system and level progression to the power-ups. It’s bewildering everywhere and QA testing it is going to be a bitch.

From the design standpoint, I can’t wrap my head around what other than ‘wow! I finished that” you get from an achievement system. Other games give you a virtual reward but right now I balancing out my potential rewards with what additional content I can scrape together (or beg borrow and steal). Here are some examples of some achievement I am thinking of implementing:

Story Mode:

  • Finish story mode
  • Clear 10,20,40,80 customers
  • Purchase all bar upgrades
  • Purchase all flair upgrades
  • Purchase all drink upgrades
  • 3FER 1,5,10,20,40,80 (3 same drinks in a row)
  • 4FER 1,5,10,20,40,80 (4 same drinks in a row)
  • 5FER 1,5,10,20,40,80 (5 same drinks in a row)
  • Money Achievement (200,400,800,1600,3200)
  • Flairless finish (Don’t use any special powerups)


  • Time achievements (1 minutes, 2 minutes, 5 minutest 8 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes)
  • Play X minutes without losing a customer (30 seconds, 60 seconds, 2 minutes, 4 minutes)

There are a mind-boggling more that I could implement. Yikes! There must be a dancing monkey in this some where.

Juggling projects and being independant

August 18, 2010terence

The life of of independent developer is a pretty solitary one, especially if the people you work with are not physically in the same place as you are. It is an extremely busy one though, right now I have 3 projects that I am working.

Adventure! is currently in full production. Although I have alluded to it in the various prior posts I have never really talked about it. Adventure! (or Adventure Story on Facebook) is an online RPG game creator. Through a webpage you can put together an RPG game, and then share it with your friends or via Facebook and later the Android (and if I can figure out how to dance around Apple’s restrictions, the iPhone). This isn’t some pansy push button game creation systems that I have seen on the web that are only good at making silly clicky games, this is a full game creation system with scripting, in-game cut scenes etc..abet in a 2D tile based graphic system. I usually try to spend 3 full days working on it and we hope to get something available by Christmas. It is being built using Flex and Pushbutton Game Engine but I have tried to make sure the data formats don’t lock me into it in case I do a custom port later.

Manhanttan Murder Mystery is a Facebook game I built a prototype in HTML4 & PHP a while back. It’s a bit like Cluedo and Kill Dr. Lucky. I have decided to revive it from the prototype (which was pretty fun for me except I think the people I played with were not that fun;P). This time however I am going to be using HTML5 as the platform instead of Flex allowing me to figure out how ready it is as a Game Development platform. Last time I checked audio wasn’t ready yet but the standard seems to be picking up steam.

Lastly, having just renewed my iPhone dev license, I will be looking to develop another iPhone game. Something I like this time, not something I think somebody else will like. Got a few ideas but I leave Sat/Sun to figure it out.

Good thing is the Nick the artist I am working with has his computer and we can go crazy now..we’ll crazier than usual. I’ll be posting up more concepts soon for Adventure! and maybe some plans for the premium module we will be working.

Designing a Job based RPG system Part 1

August 8, 2010terence

Adventure, the RPG project I have been working on has finally gotten to a stage where I need to design a simple RPG system to round out the features list. As far a CRPG design goes, beyond the standard stats and class driven design, one design I have always loved to design is a “Job based” RPG.

Job based RPG have often seen more prominence in Tactics oriented RPG, because of the large number of ‘party members’ you eventually recruit. The large number of jobs available, would keep players happy with being able to swap, level up and grind out different soldiers to battle. The job system has it’s origins in the Final Fantasy series more specifically developed in Final Fantasy III, later Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy Tactics. There was also the Ogre Battle series plus the other great Tactics games put out by Nippon Ichi.

My initial research into the jobs system will focus on Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy Tactics as there are some pretty interesting design decisions made there. Before that I would like to state my initial objectives in designing a RPG system for Adventure. I say initial, because some of the objectives may change after a fair amount of research.

  1. Design a non-statistic heavy CRPG system. Adventure’s basic RPG system is meant as a create a framework for potentially RPG’s systems to be created. Most RPG’s that try to ‘innovate’ try to tack 101 statistics, attributes,parameter that modify,enhance,boost a character in wierd and wonderful ways. Yes you get a very “cool” system and maybe a uber-flexible system but what you lose in end is system that nobody but most anal min-max player cares about. I know I don’t play RPG’s that way, and I am pretty sure that others who play CRPG’s don’t either.
  2. Make the statistics available obvious on what they do to a character (and for the player)..Yes 1/2 Vitality + 2/3 strength * item bonuses might to logically to a designer, not so much so to a casual player. Str=damage, that’s pretty obvious.
  3. Focus on abilities versus spell lists. That means every ability is a spell. Group abilities around a job because it makes sense.
  4. A balanced game is a myth. No game is perfectly balanced. The CRPG system simply provides a platform and needs to be flexible enough to change and change is the keyword. Thanks goodness, I am not designing a PvP system right off the bat.

Final Fantasy tactics IMHO had a great job system, where you started as “Squire” that was a generalist and could learn how to be a “Archer” or “Knight” if you reach level 2. Alternatively, you could switch to a “Chemist” and then switch to a “Black Mage” or “White Mage” at level 2. Each job allow the player to acquire job abilities specific(in most cases) to that job. So the Thief job would allow the player to “Steal” .

FF Tactics Job Tree

The job system would also however place restrictions on the how the player grew in strength and what equipment they could wear. Games such as Ogre Battles and later Tactics games would increase amount of jobs to a bewildering amount. Final Fantasy V also used a similar system but unlocked jobs through the plot points of finding specific crystal pieces. To this effect, it was less open-ended, designed to open up more powerful jobs later to allow a more uniform level progression and keeping the challenge level of the game kept in check. Players didn’t have to change their jobs, it’s just that some battles would be easier and certain game features (i.e. items, magics) would be unlocked if the player chose those jobs.

So let’s see what I can take away from these designs.

  • Job Tree’s = good
  • Locking Job’s = understandable, but not totally unavoidable
  • More abilities = good
  • Less stats in FF Tactics = good
  • Too many job choices to early = bad (for starting), good (for replay)

Next I will drill down more into the jobs system, character statistics, abilities and changing jobs.