We recently went feature complete with Wendy’s Weddings (that means all the technical work is done on Wendy’s and now it’s mostly content work, bug fixing and game balancing). We have decided to pursue a new Art direction with the game. Something with a bit more glamor and style which is what all weddings are about. We are really lucky to be able to work with Sandra, a talented artist to make that happen.
Without further ado:
Now i’m not a Web developer by any stretch of the imagination, having worked mostly with PHP and doing stuff against the database. The last time I touched HTML proper it didn’t have style sheets and was simply a mark up language. I am strictly going to go about rating how ready HTML5 is by a game developers perspective. The other criteria is that is should be free (or free as beer at least).
With those conditions, the only engine which seem both actively developed and well…free was RenderEngine. It’s active and the sole author Brett Fattori knows what he’s doing. Unfortunately I wish the browser developers knew what they were doing. Chrome is currently the fastest HTML5 browser, FireFox is a good second. The new ‘fast rollout’ of browser tech is making it hard to pin down a target for HTML5. V2 of RenderEngine (which is still in development) works best with Chrome and breaks on Firefox 4.
So you development environment would be:
- FireFox with Fire-Bug (until you find a feature which breaks) then…
- You need to know some JQUERY to get anywhere. It was a bit confusing until did some JQUERY stuff then it was fairly easy.
With that said, HTML5 won’t be on my direct development pipeline for a while. Might spend some time on weekends playing with it but that its. You can follow my development of a HTML5 RPG editor(Adventure) @ http://www.bigbadrobots.com/adventure/adventure/editor/
It currently doesn’t do much but sit there..the tile engine running in the background (pretty sea;P)
We have finalized the main character for Wendy’s Wedding, the game we are working on for iOS and Mac (and perhaps Android in the near future).
The original concept had Wendy being more business-like but some of the comments we got back were that she was a bit too scary to buy Wedding Dress from. We wanted Wendy to be a young experienced designer who has struck out on her own to setup a Bridal Gown shop, confident but not scary.
We have also the following locations the player can setup a Bridal Shop in. The rain forests of Borneo, Exciting Shanghai, Mystical Delhi,Paris:City for Lovers,London:Will & Kate just got married, Venice: Love on a Gondola,Myknonos,Cape Town,Rio and Las Vegas.
We hope to have the game out in about 3 months. Our prior post talk more about Wendy’s Weddings(http://bit.ly/fjF1P9). In a strange twist of fate, our Lead Designer is getting married so hopefully the game will be out on time;P
We got our first concept art today from Ivan, an artist we are working with on Wendy’s Weddings, a wedding themed casual title. He does some nice work as you can see with his first pass at some concept on some of Wendy and her little sister Molly.
You can take a look at more of his stuff at synergylab.com.my. We are still working on the characters so the are by no means final. Running comments on Wendy being a little too bossy looking have been noted and we are working on making her more fashionable and friendly.
The game revolves around helping Wendy build her Wedding Business and is being developed with assistance from Pretty In White. We have only been developing the game for about 2 weeks in total, but the basic gameplay is there and we are finishing off the Game Design documents before moving fully into production. Jordan from Zombie Gecko is helping with the Game Design. Still pretty early but the design and gameplay look exciting and we talk more about it in the future.
Our target is primarily on iOS and Mac as we are using the Cocos2D game framework. I have written in the past how I built a ‘component’ based system around this framework.
I know my 3 sisters and 2 nieces will be so happy I am finally making a game they will like to play. Maybe I can sneak in alien secret character;P
I just started porting Honor and Money to the Mac yesterday. Having not used Torque for almost a year, there have been tons of WTF moments trying to get the it working. Initially I wanted to do a straight port, but I figure I should also fix a lot problems while adding a few more features:
- Potential for Multi-player support. Right now the codebase makes many single player assumptions. I need to re-thinking and rework some of the scripts and engine code to make it ‘work’ again with networking support
- Move save system to something better the script files, probably sqlite.
- Cleanup the script. While I will never be free of it, much of the scripts have alot of junk in it. Same with the assets
- Migrate from 1.4 to 1.5.2 Torque Game Engine. I’m not even thinking of getting it on iOS at all, well unless people ask for it and it makes sense business wise. It’s a old engine, but the game itself has great art and graphics so shouldn’t need to do much but find a high quality splash screen logo;P
Working with Honor and Money has given me flashbacks on how Garage Games killed their own goose though but releasing multiple engine versions on the same platform. There was seldom an upgrade path(or it had a lot of fine print) and the convenient excuse of ‘You have source’ doesn’t go well while plowing through the code. A Game Engine is a cumbersome beasty even if you have written yourself already.I tried using Torque Game Engine Advanced, the Advance Engine they promised to develop for the longest time then they dropped it and started selling Torque3D which was their ‘new engine’. That was the last straw for me. I am sure they comforted themselves by saying that other people shipped stuff before on it which is OK if you can get support rather than step trace debugging through code to try to understand it.
Enough with the ranting…Here is the moment of Zen…1 level loaded…working but horrible hacked camera….
Components are being used in most modern game engines. My favorite (because of it makes sense to me is the PushButton Game Framework). I like the design behind it. So when faced with developing a game using Cocos2D, I tried figuring out how to approach it architecturally.
Cocos2D is a fairly mature framework and you might as why put something on top of that. I had the choice between choosing a Model View Controller Architecture and a Component (Composition Approach). I chose Components easily. I’ve only been working with the framework for a few days but I have already got that “wow” that makes more sense now feeling.
For example, here is some code to add a entity with a sprite renderer:
_entity = [[BBREntity node] retain]; BBRImageRenderComponent *renderComponent = [BBRImageRenderComponent node]; [renderComponent loadImageFromFile:@"test_image.png"]; [_entity addComponent:renderComponent name:@"Render"]; _entity.position = ccp(100,100); [self addChild:_entity];
And then here is how you add a touch component to it to make it do something when you click on it:
_entity = [[BBREntity node] retain]; _entity.name = @"Entity 1"; BBRImageRenderComponent *renderComponent = [BBRImageRenderComponent node]; [renderComponent loadImageFromFile:@"test_image.png"]; [_entity addComponent:renderComponent name:@"Render"]; BBRTouchEntityComponent *touch = [BBRTouchEntityComponent node]; [_entity addComponent:touch name:@"touch"]; _entity.position = ccp(100,100); [self addChild:_entity];
Simple huh. Each entity is added to the layer and that added to the scene. You can see the similarities to the PushButton Game Framework ;P
I have also implemented a way to add/remove/dispatch events inside of components plus a hash lookup system to manage entities.
Next on my list is to implement some audio components then I can start using it to build my game. Unfortunately no physics components yet because the game I am working on doesn’t need it.
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:
- 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.
A new version of our Game Last Call:for alcohol is on the App Store.
Here is the app store link if you don’t know about it;P
Yes we did think a lot of this game while drinking so but I did a few updates to add more polish and fun. I know it seems obvious but here are a couple of pointers for developing on the iPhone:
- Make clickable option/text/UI reactive. Player with fat finger want to know they have clicked something, and sometimes they and their pudgy little paws tap wrongly and the game just sits there ..Curses your users will say, this game sucks!
- Test it on as many version of the iPhone you can get your hands on. A game that runs fine on the 3GS runs terrible on a 3G (which I happened to finally get access to when my sister was around). None of my testers every told me so and they probably won’t.
- When you are loading something and it take a while..tell them so by displaying the word “Loading..” or have a progress bar…Curses! this game sucks it’s hung!
- It’s never to late to make your game better
- Marketing your game is a good idea (yes you can get all the sympathy buys and buys for people off Facebook/Twitter you like) but actually putting your butt out there and pushing your game is a good idea
- There is a such a thing as bad marketing…make sure you are ready with Press Releases
- Add social add-ons…researching OpenFeint now;P
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Focus on abilities versus spell lists. That means every ability is a spell. Group abilities around a job because it makes sense.
- 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” .
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.