Dev Diary

Lack of DevelopmentGeneral Development

Posted by Steve Fri, February 20, 2015 18:34:45

Ok so recently I have pretty much done zero game development. This is not really out of choice but due to current circumstances. Should now only be a few weeks until I can get things set up as I need again and get back into the swing of things but to say I really miss game development is a massive understatement.

Do not fear however! All of the projects that were in progress or incomplete will still go ahead. Adding all the delayed time together now means that technically Jim's Night At Work has been in development for around 15 months which is a crazy amount of time but in real time, only around 2 months worth of actual work has gone into that project at the moment.

Not been easy for me lately but I'm very motivated to get some serious development done again when I'm able to!

Crazy things...General Development

Posted by Steve Thu, June 19, 2014 20:47:39

Well recently things have got a bit strange. I wrote a post here about my papers jam entry 'Jim's Day At Work' just after completion of the project. Once the game was uploaded, that was that and I moved on to other projects.

Yesterday I checked the download figures for the game over on my itch.io page. I was chocked when I saw that in the last few weeks it had gone from a small handful of downloads to knocking on the door of 100.

I then came to the conclusion that maybe people really were enjoying the game all of a sudden so I uploaded a web version to gamejolt for players to enjoy too. This is where things got crazy.

In a matter of a few hours the plays/downloads count on gamejolt had broken the 100 mark. Just over 24 hours after uploading the build to gamejolt, the figures crept over 200. The game has now broken through the 300 plays/downloads barrier between gamejolt and itch.io.

Now, I'm not a stranger to these sorts of figures on the OUYA console builds, but these sorts of figures for PC only were unheard of for me prior to this. The best PC release for me before this game had been Run Cyber Run which hit around the 100 download mark not counting the OUYA build. As you can imagine, this is quite the experience. To see one of my games suddenly get discovered online after a few months is mind blowing to say the least.

This has been very encouraging for me because my current project in development (Jim's Night At Work) is directly linked to this game.

Here's hoping this is a sign of good things to come.

Papers Jam - Other daysGame Jams

Posted by Steve Tue, April 08, 2014 12:09:23

Okay, so, I kinda fell behind in keeping this diary up to date on a daily basis but a few things came up, I ended up back in Wales for a few days, unable to work on the game. I did however get it finished once I got back so this post is going to go through all the bits I should have been writing about while I was making it.

When I last lost track of keeping this diary up to date, I had just finished putting in the 3D assets for the office for Jim to work in. My next step would be to create an interface and some problems for the player to work through.

Making the interface was fairly simple. I made a new GUI skin in unity with some images that I had created in inkscape. The next part was the most time consuming. The game revolves around decision making. Jim needs to make a call on the decisions places in front of him. These decisions can have consequences reflected in either morale levels or funds. If either of these levels hits zero then it's game over!

The decisions were the most time consuming part of the development. I sat myself down with my netbook and typed them all out into .txt files. The game then reads from these - a much easier way of doing it than writing the scenarios directly into the scripts. Weightings of these then needed to be decided. I wanted to make the game quite hard but not unbeatable. Generally it will take the player a few tries to get through the game.

The game was fairly simple to plan out, just not terribly quick to make (for a game jam game). Due to this simplicity, I did not really have any bugs of note to deal with. Usually with my projects I have at least 1 crazy bug (just wait until the write up for "Jim's Night At Work", crazy images will be included).

There are some parts of the game that I wish to tweak before porting it to a standalone application on various platforms. Overall I'm glad I finished the game and found papers jam to be very fun. Sadly it appears that I was the only one to submit a game in the end for this jam, however what I can take from that is the improvement in my self discipline. Three months ago I would have not likely finished this game so I am very proud of myself and where I am now with my game development.

Papers Jam - day1Game Jams

Posted by Steve Fri, March 28, 2014 21:09:38

So I decided to make a game for the papers jam, a game jam inspired by the work of the popular indie game 'Papers, Please'. After thinking of three ideas and scrapping them due to the scope being too large, I finally settled on an idea. I would make a small game based on my current larger project 'Jim's night at work' in which the player discovers what Jim does in his job. The idea being to be able to give some more of a back story to Jim.

This took a little while to plan out using my whiteboard. Whiteboards are very good for getting initial design ideas out and thought through.

The game will show Jim at his desk going through papers to approve or deny specific requests. These decisions will have moral and financial implications on Jim and the company so the player needs to think carefully about the decisions they make.

I started building the game by putting the office and contents of the first level of Jim's night at work into a unity package and exporting. I then imported these assets into a new project. This allowed me to quickly build the office back up exactly how it is in the main game. I set the camera at a good chair height to give the illusion of being sat at his desk.

The next stage will be to start building up the mechanics. I'm quite excited about this mini-project so I hope that it pays off and gives a good end result.

Steve

First time publishingOUYA

Posted by Steve Sun, March 16, 2014 12:52:04

Okay so this is my first time in writing this dev diary so we'll see how things go.

Recently I took part in the 2014 #cyberpunk jam. The jam ran for around 10 days however I didn't allow myself the full time. This was down to 1 main reason - I didn't like my first idea. My first idea was a 3D, top down shooter with lots of black and neon everywhere. After a few days I decided that the current jam project was getting me nowhere so I scrapped it and started all over again with a new plan.

So with the new plan started, I got to work on a 2.5D runner that evolved into the game currently known as 'Run Cyber Run'. Windows, Mac and Linux versions were posted promptly on itch.io and so post-jam I then started work on porting it to OUYA.

So why bother porting it to OUYA at all?

Well the OUYA may have had a rough start but I purchased one with the goal of getting my own games onto it and in all fairness, it's made a lot of progress in the last few months. So where better to start than with a small unity game? Developing for the OUYA is completely free and seeing as my long term project 'Jim's Night At Work' will also ideally be on the OUYA I thought this would be a good stepping stone. After all, with a larger project you'd prefer to know what you're doing before hand rather than delving into the unknown.

So I started work on the OUYA port. The first place to start was on the OUYA development docs pages. Now, I will admit that on opening the Unity documentations section, I felt a bit overwhelmed with information and was starting to think I would regret this. However I took a deep breath and took each part 1 small step at a time. It turns out the reason that it looked so complicated was just to make sure that you had every last scrap of information that they could provide you with. Upon going through the material, it proved very quickly that this was not going to be the massive task that it initially appeared to be.

Setting up Unity for first time debugging was a bit fiddly but there are step by step instructions to go through so you can have your hand held throughout that process. That's the most difficult part of the whole thing in all honesty. As long as you followed all the steps correctly, sending a product to the OUYA for debugging is pretty simple. Swapping my current controls for the OUYA pad was done in minutes once I had read and understood the documentation, along with the calls for when the system menu is called etc. I'm making this sound more confusing than it actually is, it's really a fairly straightforward process. Using the OUYA ODK controller calls also meant that my game instantly worked with the Xbox 360 and PS3 control pads.

I put this game out completely free so have not done anything with payment systems yet. One step at a time right?

The most tweaking of my game that I had to do was to get it to pass the review process that all OUYA games must go through in order to get on the store. This is basically a quality control check done by real people over at OUYA to make sure that everything fits in with their guidelines.

Now you may be thinking "This is starting to sound like a lot of effort" but actually it's not. OUYA provide you with a downloadable checklist of how they go through their review process. Basically if you hit all the points that apply to your game then it should fly through the review process without any issues. The checklist is mostly basic common sense stuff that can be easily forgotten about in the heat of development, so provides you with a bit of a reminder. Things like making sure your font is big enough to read from 10 feet away from the TV, making sure all font is in the safe zone, making sure the game reacts properly when the system menu is brought up etc. Again - sounds more work than it actually is but this took very little time at all.

The entire porting process took me less than a day to do and the next day I was waving goodbye to my .apk file as I sent it to OUYA to review. I had no idea how long OUYA were going to take and if it would pass or not but around 24 hours later I had a message through to my inbox saying that my game had been approved. Now this was the impressive part, on being approved I could then publish my game whenever I wanted to just by clicking a button.

I was actually out shopping in the supermarket when the email came through so as soon as I got home I clicked that magic 'Publish' button and within seconds it was up on the discover store.

At the time of writing (2 days after launching on Discover store), the OUYA version has had almost 5 times the amount of downloads as all of the other versions of the game combined, 20 user ratings averaging 3 stars and an O-Ranking of 238 (out of over 700 games). These statistics are constantly changing so may already be outdated by the time you read this.

So what did I learn?

It's simple really, publishing to OUYA is incredibly easy. Not only that but for a very small starter developer such as myself, it allows you to be discovered much quicker. Granted I still have a long way to go, but the figures don't lie. For someone trying to break into the industry, the OUYA is simply fantastic.