Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sick of being Sick

I've spent the last week feeling sick and tired, so I haven't done very much work on March to the Moon. I did get some work in on Siphon Spirit to update how Miranda's animations work now that Peter's got most of them done. We were rushing to get that in for Anime Banzai, which happened last Saturday. The Indie Game Development panel went fairly well. The projector really slowed down my computer though, bringing Siphon Spirit to a complete stop a few times. This really annoyed me and I determined to optimize it's running speed a bit. I did some research and found some things that should be useful. Now I just need to get the energy I need to actually implement it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DirectInput. Kind of a pain.

Well, I guess that wraps this post up. I've been working on getting a nice control scheme for DirectInput controllers for the PC and have been driving myself a little nuts trying to get it to work nicely. One of the major problems is that there are too many different types of controllers for me to just say "Okay, button 0 will be the accept key". Because for all I know the 0 button is the start button. This leads to the second problem. I need to allow the player to bind their keys however they want. Now, a DirectInput controller has a number of different input types. I need to make sure that if they are using a directional Point of View hat they can still move around or just count it as a single button press or tell how hard they are pushing and in what direction. This is a big pain and it's what I'm currently working on.

Peter's been working on getting the new start of the game finished as well as the rest of Miranda's animations. He's hoping to have that all finished in time for Anime Banzai this weekend.

Speaking of which, we're speaking at Anime Banzai this year! It's on this Saturday and we'll be speaking about making Indie games at 1:00. We'll also be showing off our games so come take a look! I'll also be talking at 5:00 about what it was like making My Japanese Coach for the Nintendo DS. Come by and listen if you're willing to hear me whine a lot :P

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time to control things

Wow, has it only been a week? I'm actually rather impressed with myself! I managed to get all of the bugs fixed (that I know of, anyways) and added in everything that I wanted to for March to the Moon. I also revamped the controller so I could also use the keyboard. I'm pretty happy with what I ended up with. I should be able to just drop it in my future games and not have to worry about controls anymore. The really nice thing about it is that I can now just ask it if the player has input Accept rather than checking which buttons are pressed and also checking which keyboard keys have been pressed.

There is one important thing that I've learned about controllers though. Hopefully this won't bore anyone who isn't a programmer. PC controllers basically come in two types, XInput and DirectInput. XInput is what XNA and the XBox uses. All of the newer PC controllers use XInput. I was under the impression that XNA only supported XBox360 controllers, but when I plugged in my new Logitech controller this morning I was surprised to find that it worked without me needing to add in support for DirectInput. I was sorely tempted to just leave it at that, since all the new controllers should support it. However, a wise friend warned me that people would be unhappy about a game with controller support that didn't work with their controller. So I decided to take the plunge and support the older controllers as well.

Supporting the controllers will take a few days of development at the least. First to get it all set up and updating correctly, then to get it so it plays nicely with my control scheme. On the bright side, after getting the controls done I only have a few things more to do. Audio is a big one. I'm going to put in some basic music to be replaced and start getting some sound effects. I'm going to try and get all the sound effects in before I hand it off to Dave Matney (who will be doing the audio) so I can pick out which sound effects I just can't do correctly on my own. After the audio is in I'm going to play it all the way through, cleaning up problems that I find and basically getting the balance smoothed out. Lastly, I'm going to beta test.

So why not just beta test now? I've had that asked by a few people who want to play the game. The reason is that I know of a number of things that are wrong. If I sent the game out for people to play and it's too hard to get past level 4 I know what a ton of the feedback is going to be. It's not useful. But hey, it's not going to be too darn long from now that I start beta testing.

And I haven't forgotten Siphon Spirit either! Peter's been having a blast getting the rest of Miranda's animations done. I've seen the run cycle and it looks nice. It'll be a lot of fun seeing her running around the bottom of the screen.

Up to 162 hours now for March to the Moon. Keeping track because people have asked me how long I've been working on previous games and I really had no idea. Also, I am curious about what my 'hourly pay' will be when I finish.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mistakes were made....

So... I did it. I had added all the abilities, balanced them, added all the enemies, added 32 levels, and made sure there were no bugs. I did not, however, start a new game and play through for a while without cheating. You see, I'd balanced the abilities so that they were somewhat similar in terms of damage per second with MP cost factored in. So all the basic abilities, such as bow and arrow, fire bolt and rock blast all became weaker. This in turn caused some trouble as I hadn't lowered the enemy HP at all, making them pretty darn tough. This led to hardly anyone getting past level 4 and absolutely no one seeing any of the new enemies.


I did get some good feedback though and have made changes in the game to fit it. I also got a few write-ups that I want to share here.

Jay @ Rampant Games said
Curtis Mirci showed me the latest build of his shooter-with-RPG-elements, “March to the Moon,” which makes Frayed Knights seem like a downright somber game by comparison. It is still in mid-development and needs work, but I think I was in need of a nice, goofy, fun shooter. I really had fun playing it.

Frayed Knight is the game that he's been working on for four years and finally released. Check it out!

March to the Moon is a top-down shoot-em-up with abilities and experience, set in a bar where you kill lots of rats to start out with. Curtis has been working on the graphics and it looks good (you can wear a skirt and hats!), and he's been working on balancing the abilities so it should be possible to get past the fourth boss. He's planning to sell it on XBLA.

I was very surprised and pleased to hear that it looks very good. After working with Peter on Siphon Spirit it feels like my art is the equivalent of a monkey hitting rocks with a stick.

I got a brief look at the progress Curtis has made on his hybrid RPG and vertical shooter. He's been making "crazy" progress on it and he's nearly complete with everything. He's added a bunch more weapons, abilities, and art since I saw it last. Kudos to him for making some rapid progress on this. (Again I'm jealous.) Also I noticed that both Bryan and Curtis are making RPG/Shooter hybrids. Are they working together on something? Hmmmm?

Wait, someone else is making an RPG/Shooter hybrid in the same indie group!? Wish I'd have had a chance to see it while I was there...

Anyways, I got the work done, and that was the important part. I finished adding in the other 64 levels with updated dialogue, monsters that know more abilities and different endings. I spent some time playing the game more and found some bugs to fix so I've been working on those before I add anything new, like the secret unlock. I've also been working hard on getting the PC port to work nicely with the keyboard, and I just got it working tonight.

Currently at 154 hours. That's nearly a month of full-time work. I was planning on finishing this in a month of spare-time work. Guess I'm just not as fast as I thought I was....