Friday, December 14, 2012

Reviewed by Indie Gamer Chick

Indie Gamer Chick reviewed March to the Moon and it got on the leaderboard!  Very glad to see that happen.  Now that I'm on the leaderboard I can use the seal to show that she approved of the game.  My favorite line from the review was "March to the Moon is unquestionably fun."

Curious, I checked The XBLIG, and I'm on his leaderboard as well.  So that's good!  I don't think I had a single negative review of the game and most reviewers have really liked it.

So... uh...

When do I get paid?  No, seriously.  Even with these good reviews, I've only earned a dollar.  And that's because someone gave me a dollar for a code because they didn't want to buy MS points.  I'm below the payout limit on XBLIG, and for my homepage store as well (although just barely for the homepage).  I've got it up on Indie City as well, but even though it's still on the front page and has 4.3 stars out of five all I have are a few hundred views and a single demo download.

This is pretty discouraging.  A small part of me says that I should give up and just go work on that list of games on steam that I haven't played yet.  It's a pretty small part though.  I have plans for more games to make.  I think there are two major problems that make the average player want to just pass it over.  #1 is the art.  #2 is the music.  Maybe #3 is the marketing, because I have no idea how to do that right apparently.  I've been learning more about making art and I can make something better now, and I think I could make something much better music-wise as well.

Anyways, not giving up.  Going to make something better.  Siphon Spirit is coming along and when that's finished I'll be able to work with a real artist on a new project again.  Though to be perfectly honest I fully plan on making another smaller game before I'm back on board with Peter again.

Friday, December 7, 2012

March to the Moon now on Indie City!

March to the Moon is now available on Indie City!  What's different now?  Not a whole lot, it's just about the same exact game, but now there are achievements!  Most of them are the same as unlocking outfits, but there are new achievements for mastering certain skills and some more for playing as a pacifist.  Hopefully I get some more feedback from a wider audience so I can make the next one much better!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nearing the end of feature-complete

I'm working now on the part that I think is going to be the most difficult for the Japanese game.  Well, the second most difficult after getting a name that I'm happy with.  It's the actual flashcards.  I'm working on getting it so that I don't need to manually add answers for each kind of flashcard.  Okay, how many of you did I lose the second I brought up flashcards?  On the bright side, I plan to finish all the different flashcard types this week and finish off the battle screen.  Then all I need is the win/lose screen and the whole game is fully workable.

Peter's taking a little break and getting a mini-game set up for anyone who backs Siphon Spirit on Kickstarter.  It has the makings of a nice puzzle game, so I'm thinking about taking it further later on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Japanese Art

Is anyone else sick of me being sick?  I'm sick of me being sick.  Anyways, Leah got me some new art so I stepped back from working on the battle screen to put it in.  Take a look!

 Those sliders were taken directly from March to the Moon. Take a look at the much improved sliders below!

She got me more than just sliders, but I was most interested in them because they required the most work to put in.

Indie Game Night is tomorrow!  I'll be showing the Japanese game and Siphon Spirit by myself since Peter can't make it.  I'll respond with that people said about the games as soon as they post.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We're alive! WE'RE ALIVE!

Yeah, finally starting to feel a bit better!  Peter was feeling left out, so he decided to get sick for a day.  Then he sent me an image for the fifth level's cutscene.

It's time to leave the town and see what's going on with the army!  I finished converting the Siphon Spirit code into something much cleaner, and have been pretty happy with how few bugs have popped up.  Just got one that we've noticed so far, and it's just not calculating the score if there is an ending cutscene.  Easy fix.

The Japanese game is also coming along again now that I can focus long enough to get things done.  The battle screen is the most complicated screen in the game, so it's taking me some time to put it all together.  I have the basic attacks working and you can select an item to use to heal yourself now.  Next up is to actually heal yourself.  Then on to the special attacks.  Then on to actually filling in the flashcard data.

Okay, just think.  Focus.  I can do this.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Being sick is going out of style

Yep, still sick.  At least I'm on the tail end of things so it should go smoothly now.

I didn't get much done on the battle screen.  I wasn't feeling very rushed and I was pretty tired.  Instead, I worked on Siphon Spirit.  I updated it to use my new screen manager code which has really helped clean things up.  Originally it was all just one big hodge-podge of code and it was a big mess.  Now, it's not quite working yet, but it's almost there.  The reason that I decided to change it all around it because we want to add a new screen to it.  An editor screen.  That's right, you'll be able to make your own levels!

It already has an editor built in, but that only is connected to the developer builds.  It's not very user-friendly. Peter has to remember a lot of button combinations and trigger and oscillation info.  And if you screw up it just crashes.  I think the only crash right now is if you forget to add the player orb.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Winter must be coming...

So I was sitting there thinking that I was all better and ready to get back to work.  The truth is that I ended up getting sicker than before and am just starting to feel better now.  I did manage to finish the practice screen, which is a major part of the game.  This is the place that the player will go to to practice drawing and pronouncing the kana characters and the words that they learn.  After each one, the game will ask whether the player thought they did well or if they thought they didn't do well.  Things that need more practice will show up more often and things that the player knows won't keep showing up.

I have a fairly detailed list of everything that I think I need to do to finish the battle screen.  At over one hundred different things on the list, I'm thinking it should be basically working by next week.  Hopefully I don't get sick again!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Companions, Part 2

Sorry about the missed week.  I've been feeling exhausted for a while now and I ended up sick yesterday as my body forced me to lie down and get some rest.

The Japanese game is coming along fairly well.  There are only two more screens left, then it's all polish and adding content.  Specifically, it's adding a LOT of polish and content.  But at least it will be fully functional.  The easier of the two remaining screens is the Practice Screen, where you practice pronouncing and drawing hiragana, katakana and words.  The other one is the Battle Screen.  Because we absolutely need a battle screen in a language learning game.  That's the other main thing that the companion is for.  They will fight against various Japanese monsters and demons using the things that you've learned in the lessons.  You can equip the companions with traditional Japanese weapons and armor and eat Japanese food for boosts.  Each companion can level up and be used in battles, even if it's not the same companion that you've been using in the lessons.

The battle screen is going to be the most difficult part of the game to make.  I hope to have the practice screen done by the end of the week.  I had planned to have it done earlier, but I needed to get a good algorithm for determining which cards should be shown in what order and all that.

On a side note, March to the Moon is almost available on IndieCity!  There was an issue with the demo trying to integrate with their SDK, so I need to get that fixed and send it up again.

Lastly, Peter assures me that he's making good progress on Siphon Spirit.  We've given up trying to put a date on when we can release since this is a side thing for the both of us.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Choose your Companion

I had done it.  I had come up with a good name for the Japanese game that I thought worked quite well.  Then I found out a simple site just doing flashcards is already using it.  Crap.

Anyways, I want to talk about companions today.  Companions are characters that will learn Japanese along with you and help you out.  They won't be teaching you Japanese.  That's my job.  There is one character that is the default companion.  All the rest will be taken from other independent games or comics.  I currently have two more companions in the game.  Miranda from Siphon Spirit and Dirk from Frayed Knights.  I'm planning on having more companions available, but I want the game working and with some final art to the companions before I go asking other people if they are willing to put their character in my game.

Companions will obviously have different art.  They will also all have their own personalities.  During lessons each companion may have different things to say.  Companions also have one more major role to play in the game, but I'll be covering that next week!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Another Indie Game Night

I made the mistake of letting Peter talk to people, so now I've got more work to do on Siphon Spirit.  I'm working on making it so that the energy that you pull from different orbs will start out as the enemy color, but purify itself and turn white as it gets closer to you.  It also works the other way.  If you get too close to a heart that's bigger than you your white energy will turn red as it takes the energy away from you.  My favorite  orb for this is the Demonic Orb, since it turns the energy black, signifying that you will never see it again.

Peter's been showing me the art for the next cutscene, and it's looking really good.  I'm hoping we can get a demo sometime next month.  Then we'll start up the kickstarter campaign to pay for the music, voice acting, and maybe a custom font.

I got to show off the Japanese game during Indie Game Night as well, but since I don't have any real lessons and the battle system isn't in yet there wasn't a whole lot to show.  It was more like a tech demo than anything else.

But, looking back, I started with pretty much nothing just two months ago, and I spent a good chunk of time on March to the Moon, so I feel fairly comfortable claiming that I can get it all fully working within the next two months.  Not full of all the content, but fully working.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let's Learn Japanese

Okay, I've been talking about March to the Moon a lot recently.  I think that's starting to wind down.  I'm still waiting to hear from Desura about what I will need to do in order to get it up on there.  I got a nice mention from a good friend of mine, Jay at RampantGames. Out of Eight PC Game Reviews gave me a review and did a video with it!  This was the first review I got that wasn't glowing.  He complained about the difficulty and the fact that the levels were the same each time that they got played.  He seemed to like the game overall but thought it was too difficult.  I'll have to see what I can do with the sequel.

I'm getting right back into the Japanese game now.  I've finished getting the dictionaries to work (even though there's not a ton in them yet).  I'm starting on the newly redesigned lessons tonight, so I'm really hoping to have them done, as well as the flashcard stuff so I can at least show that I'm back where I started come Indie Game Night next week.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

March to the Moon Review and a New Version

March to the Moon has gotten some very good reviews!  I mentioned and quoted OtakuDante last week.  Since then I got reviewed by The XBLIG and Dannie Kitten.  They both really liked it and recommended that their readers should buy it, so I'm pretty happy about that!  If you've got the time please head in and read their reviews.  I also got and "XBLIG Pick" from Indie Games the Weblog.  None of this really seems to have increased my sales, but at least I know that people liked it.  It's also inspired me to get a little more done.

On that note, Version 1.1 is now available!  Hopefully this will be the one that gets me into Indie City.  I am also making one more try at Desura through my IndieDB page.  I'm hoping to have a mod out by the end of the week.

Sorry for the late and short post.  Staying super busy over here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

March to the Moon for sale!

Well, it's been a long wait, but March to the Moon is finally up for sale!  You can get it at March to the Moon's site or on XBox LIVE Indie Games.  We've already got a lengthy review from OtakuDante.  Definitely my favorite line in the review is "It's nothing short of brilliant."  Haha, I wish I could just take that out of context and pretend he was talking about the entire game :)  He was referring to the Skillset system, where you can match different skillsets to get a nice blend of abilities.  I wish I could take all the credit for it, but I did get the idea from Titan's Quest.  He also made mention of the simplistic graphics, "...even though this game features some of the simplest graphics I've seen in an indie game it still has enough features to make it noteworthy."  The mention on the graphics really hit home since he referred to the sewer stage as "a desert wasteland littered with dying fish".  Good thing I leveled up my graphics skills during and after that game.  My next solo game will look better, I promise!

Now, as an indie, it apparently is illegal to NOT talk about Steam's Greenlight right now.  I'm going to keep it short since I need to leave very soon.  Personally, I'm having a great time with it.  I've got three pages of games that I'm interested in getting (out of 26 total pages), so it's been a lot of fun to find new projects.  I was considering putting March to the Moon on there simply so I could get more people to look at it.  I seriously doubt that it would be able to get on Steam.  Then they put the $100 entry barrier to keep the riff-raff out.  Well, it worked.  I'm going to hold off on putting anything into Greenlight until Siphon Spirit is finished.  If we can't make $100 off Siphon Spirit then we've been doing something horribly horribly wrong.

I hope we haven't been doing anything horribly horribly wrong.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Okay, for real this time!

I should have known that nothing would be as easy as I had hoped it would be.  I finally got everything set up so I can sell stuff on my own site and got it activated and everything.  It took a few days longer than I had hoped, which makes me a bit sad.  On the bright side, I'll finally be able to sell March to the Moon!  I'm aiming for Friday morning so I can have a chance to send out information and keys to gaming news sites and hopefully I'll be able to get some attention.

March to the Moon will be available on and on the XBox on Friday morning.  I'm hoping to release on IndieCity soon as well, but they haven't been approving any games for some time.  Wait, I just checked and they've approved some today!  Glad to see that they're back on track again.  Hope it won't take too long for them to go over March to the Moon again, but I'm sure they've built up a backlog by now.

In the Siphon Spirit realm, Peter is being secretive.  He's working on a big piece of art and won't show it to me.  He hasn't even had time to get into the game to see if the extra stuff I added to make it more clear that you are not supposed to run into stuff looks right.  Once all the cutscene stuff is finished we should be able to get the alpha demo out the door in no time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

March to the Moon release upcoming

Thanks to Pixel Prospector I now have an idea of how I can sell March to the Moon on the Califer Games site without losing half of the profits.  So I'm aiming at a Saturday release.  I've been holding off on the Xbox release until IndieCity okays me (though you can still get the game in their underground store), but I haven't gotten a response from them for a while now so I'm going to push the Xbox version out on Saturday as well.

There's a bit of a difference with all the different versions.  The Xbox version has a longer load time, the Indie City version has some simple DRM and achievements, and the Califer Games version is DRM free.  It'll be good to finally get it all finished so I'm no longer working on three different games!

In Siphon Spirit land Peter's cleaning things up more to try to make it more obvious what you can and can't absorb and that it's bad to touch the enemies even if you're bigger.  The demo is coming, but we need to work out a few kinks first.

Califer's Japanese Class (again, temporary name) has been keeping me busy as well.  I've got the first screen finished, and added something that will handle menu navigation for me so hopefully the next few screens will be done in no time at all.  I also have about half of the hiragana fully animated now, so that shouldn't hold me back too much.  My main concern right now is getting the game fully operational again, with the screens that I wasn't able to finish last time and get the basics of the RPG battle stuff in by the next Indie Game Night that I'm assuming will be at the end of September, probably just a few days after my birthday.

I've also been doing planning for two other games that I plan on making soon.  Every time I finish a session of planning stuff out I just feel like smacking myself for not having enough self control.  Surely three concurrent projects should be enough for any sane person!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back From Vacation!

I mean, I am.  Peter left on vacation earlier this week.  Maybe we should have just gone on vacation together.  Peter's got some art in the first level to help people see what they are supposed to do now.  Take a look below!  It still needs a little work, like having the heart shoot a little less often, but I think we're just about there now.

I've been tightening up the graphics.  For some reason there have been some graphical glitches so I'm working on cleaning up the content managers and reworking my texture manager to work a little better.  I also set things up so that if the game does crash the game would send me an email with the crash log so I don't need to rely on the user finding the crash log, getting my email and emailing it to me.  That would probably never happen outside of testing.

It took me a little longer than I had planned to get all the achievements in for the Indie City version of the game.  Then I sent it in and apparently it crashes in the Indie City DLL after about 10 minutes of play.  I think I got it fixed last night, but I only had 15 minutes to test it.  One thing I do know is that my Spirit-Paladin is pretty awesome with a double boost to holy damage and plenty of opportunities to heal myself.  Even after working on it for a year I still have fun playing March to the Moon :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Indie Game Night and a New Game

We've had a fairly eventful week!  I attended the bi-monthly local Indie Game Night where we had a short presentation then went to show our games off.  I had three games to show, but in the end decided not to show March to the Moon since it was finished and Peter wasn't around to show Siphon Spirit.  Wait, three games?  What's the new one?  That's a little tricky, because I haven't settled on a name for it.  For now, I'm calling it Califer's Japanese Class.  That's right, it's a game for learning Japanese!  I'll get more into depth in a moment, first off I want to share what others had to say about the games I had to show.

Siphon Spirit

The alpha demo is coming soon!  Peter's done some great work, but a fickle new computer has slowed him down a bit since he's had to send it in twice for repairs.  He just got it back and we're hoping to wrap the demo up soon.  Greg Squire, the organizer of our Indie Game Night, said "It's looking really polished now.  The story really seems to add to the game and helps tie the gameplay and levels together."  You can read his full write up of the night on his blog.  Jay of Rampant Games said "It's looking like a lot of fun now, and it's got RPG elements and a story to boot.  It's still got a little ways to go, but it looks like a winner."  His full write up is right here.  Siphon Spirit also got a few fans who were very excited about the project so that definitely made me happy.

Califer's Japanese Class

Okay, I actually have this to a pretty functional level, but I've been having too many issues with the FlatRedBall engine and I think I'm better off not using it any more.  I feel that strongly enough that I've started rewriting the game from scratch in plain XNA.  So what I was showing at Indie Game Night was a much more functional version than what I currently have.  I'm still working on some basic engine things, like the controls.  I had a nice controller controller to handle input from a xbox gamepad or from a keyboard, but all the xbox gamepad stuff was working from the FlatRedBall code so I need to put together my own stuff for that.  

Jay didn't get me a write up for this game, which is probably because more people wanted to play Siphon Spirit so it was on the screen more.  Greg gave me a write up, but I think something got lost in the translation between me expressing frustration at the FlatRedBall engine and my frustration at how My Japanese Coach for the Nintendo DS turned out.  His write up suggests that I'm remaking My Japanese Coach, but I'm not.  I wrote the 100 lessons and did the translation of the 10,000 word dictionary for My Japanese Coach, but it's not mine.  Ubisoft paid us to make it and I have no rights to that game.  What I'm making is something that will allow me to go into more detail and teach more with my own style.  Most importantly, I won't have management that threatens to fire me for working on Japanese lessons.  What came out of the game was my first pass on translations and lessons.  I never checked until the game came out whether the characters were drawn correctly (because I wanted a paycheck) so I was really disappointed when I tested it out and found that if I'd have had my way I've have made them draw about 1/3rd of the characters again.  And I never even looked at the kanji.  

Anyways, Califer's Japanese Class (again, this is a temporary name) is going to focus on the two basic writing systems, Hiragana and Katakana.  I'm also going to teach a bunch of words so that the characters can be put into practice.  All of the characters will be fully animated and voiced.  There will be a flashcard system using a spaced repetition system so you say how well you understand something.  Things that you are having more difficulty with will show up more often and things that you think are a breeze won't keep popping up all the time.

There will be a companion character as well.  She will chat with me (acting as the teacher) and with you during the lessons.  The character in the screenshot above is obviously filler, and the lesson being taught won't be in the actual game.  This is all still in very early stages (even earlier than I'm showing since I started over), so expect some changes.

As it mentions in that screenshot, I'm trying to get more characters for the player to use as companions.  So far, we have the default (still being designed), Miranda from Siphon Spirit, and one of the main characters from Frayed Knights.  I'm probably going to go for one of the guys since I already have two girls lined up.  I'm hoping to get more characters, but I'm going to have to get the game to a more completed state before I start asking people I don't know if they're willing to put their characters in my game.

March to the Moon

Okay, March to the Moon passed on the Xbox.  But it still has a longer load at the beginning than I'd like.  I'm tempted to change it so that it uses spritesheets instead of individual images.  In fact, I'm probably going to do that as soon as it goes out on the Xbox.  I'm also still working on putting it on Indie City.  I'm pretty close.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to get it into the community approval process sometime tomorrow.

Long post is long.  Anything else?  Oh, right.  I'm still designing creatures for my monster collecting game I have planned, writing up a design doc for a dungeon crawler, and I'm studying more about story and emotion for Enchanter's Path, our next big game after Siphon Spirit.  I wish I was wealthy so I could just make games all the time.  Oh, and I'm going on vacation so I won't be around next week for another post.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

March to the Moon Passed!

March to the Moon has passed the XBox LIVE Indie Games review process!  All I need to do now is publish it and put it out.  But I'm going to hold off for a little longer.  I'm going on vacation very soon and I'd rather be around to check and see how things are going.  I also don't want to spend my vacation worrying about how the game is doing.  Even after getting it out, the work isn't over.  I'll be getting some activation keys and will want to hand them out to people that do reviews of games to try and get the word out.

Now I'm just doing some final coding to make March to the Moon work with Indie City's SDK so that players can get achievements.  After that's done I'm going to finally be able to dive into my next project, a game for learning Japanese!  I was never really happy with My Japanese Coach.  I think I can do something more useful.  I'll have some screenshots for you next week, since I've already started it up.  I actually am going to be re-writing it because it's currently using FlatRedBall.  After fighting with FRB to get things loaded up smoothly on the Xbox for March to the Moon I've rather soured on it and would rather just go it alone.  I had started rewriting March to the Moon from scratch so that it would load faster, but in the end, since it passed I decided that was way more work than it was worth.

I also learned something very important from trying to contact the press and trying to sell March to the Moon.  It's a good game, but unless things are top-notch or really stick out they're not going to get very far.  My sum total of two sales on Indievania (which I will never see any cash from) speaks to that.  I'm going to be making some changes to my original design for the Japanese game.

Friday, July 20, 2012

March From the Moon

Peter's been putting in double time on the first boss fight in Siphon Spirit and it looks great!  I can't wait to have a demo up for you all to play.

Things have been crazy busy for me the last few weeks and I haven't gotten a whole lot done.  Without any real work to get to, I've been planning for March From the Moon.  Even though I have another game that I want to make first.  This is why I can't count the planning as any real work.  It is not what I should be working on.

In any case, March From the Moon is going to be radically different from March to the Moon.  I'm looking at side quests, power ups, items, crafting, unlockables, a more involved story, completely redone UI, good music, better art and much much more.  But that's a lot of work so we'll just have to see what I actually do in the end.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Screenshot Saturday

 Miranda get tutored by Rennon.

A pitched battle between a Summoner's Fire Wisps and some Tiny UFOs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Siphon Spirit Alpha Demo Looming

That's right, it's Siphon Spirit time again!  Peter's been having a tough time with his tablet.  He sent it in for repairs and when he got it back they had fixed the wrong darn thing!  He's sent it back in again, so he's been slowed down a bit while he waits to be able to work on the bus again.  I've joked with him before about changing our name to "Public Transit Games" since we do most of our development on the ride to and from our day jobs.  In any case, we're hoping to have a demo up for download soon.  It would still be an alpha demo, and the game is still a little ways off.  You won't be seeing the nasty piece of work up in the screenshot up there during the demo, but we've got other demons and undead for you to fight!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hello Indievania!

March to the Moon is now available for purchase at Indievania!  Get it while it's hot!  I'm very excited for it to finally be finished and up for sale in at least once place.  I had it up again for review on Xbox LIVE Indie Games, but it was shot down because of nit-picky things that I've gotten fixed but can't send it back out until later.

Hoping to get it out on XBLIG next week, and then work on the integration with IndieCity and try to get it up at a few more places.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Getting March to the Moon around

I sent out emails to a bunch of gaming news sites, but I don't think any of them posted anything.  A few people at TigSource convinced me that I should take some more time to learn more about pixel art before doing the sequel, but that's about it.  I've got it up and ready for release on Indievania on the projected release date of 6/30/2012.  I'm hoping that it will get out on Desura as well, but I haven't heard back from them.  I'm working on getting it on IndieCity now.  I just finished making the new set of achievements and now it's time to get March to the Moon coded to use those with IndieCity.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hello Desura!

We've been working on finalizing the website for some time now.  For those who are interested, check it out here.  It's not at yet, but we're working on switching it over.  We were hoping to have it done last week but the people hosting the domain name now seems to be doing everything through email so it's taking some extra time.

March to the Moon isn't up for sale yet, but I do have a demo up.  Head to the download page to get the demo and download the music as well if you'd like.

Anyways, we have a company page up on desura now!  It's not finalized yet because I'm still working on some of the art necessary to put March to the Moon in as a game.  One chunk of promotional art is included below.

We got together over the weekend and we're got fairly well planned for the demo.  The plan is to have a downloadable demo within a week.  I'll be sure to update and let you know as soon as it's ready!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Too Many Projects

I had a friend check out March to the Moon on the XBox to test it for errors before putting it up for review again and having to wait a week for a single issue.  He was pretty awesome and found two issues.  There was a crash if you did certain stuff in a certain order (fixed it) and found out that I'm not quite checking it right for all TV sizes.  I'm going to try and make it look better on all resolution and hopefully it will be better and ready to go.

Since I'm getting close on that front I'm looking more towards different distribution services (Steam, Desura, IndieCity, etc.) and seeing what I can do to get it sold on those places.  Some places will just put it up after it goes through the process, but I'd like to have a release date so those places may get March to the Moon later.  Of course, the biggest, most important place to sell is on Steam, so hopefully they will accept it.  I've also been researching how to market the games and this is getting me pretty tired because it's definitely not my forte.

We're still working on Siphon Spirit.  We've got a new audio guy on board and I like the sound of his stuff.  We're hoping to have a new demo up this week to put on our new website which we hope will also go up this week.  The old demo was ... OLD.  Also, the installer was crap.  I've learned more about making installers now so it should be much better.

Lastly, we have the new game that I'm working on but haven't announced.  It's coming along well and I've got a big chunk of it working.  My main reason for not revealing it is that I don't have a name for it yet.  Hopefully should have not only a name but some screenshots of it next week.

Lastly, I've been designing some creatures for a web game that I want to make in the future.  It would be free to play and really help me learn how to make websites.

Lastly, I've been planning and thinking for our next major game after Siphon Spirit (we're going to take a short break and do a little game before it though).  I actually wrote most of the dialogue already, but I've been reading about how to make games more emotionally engaging and how to write better for games so I'm probably going to rewrite most of what I've already written.  I've added a number of things to it to make the world seem more alive so hopefully it will all work out in the end.

...I think I just figured out why I'm so tired!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Up and Down Again

After a week of waiting I was able to get March to the Moon up for review again, only to realize that I have a bug in my loading code if there isn't a save file present.  Guess I have to wait another week before I can try again.

But instead of just whining, I want to talk about something that I noticed in Dragon Quest IX.  In the very beginning of the game you are the guardian angel of a town called Angel Falls.  I liked the name because I was an angel living there and there was a prominent waterfall in the town.  Soon afterwards (basic spoilers, but you can't really do anything in the game until this happens anyways), You fall from the heavens and land in the waterfall.  "Aha!", I thought, "So the name has multiple meanings."  An angel fell down into the town.  When I gained control of the character again I no longer had my heavenly glow, my halo, or my wings.  I was a fallen angel.  The name of the beginning town was able to play on the three major things that happened at the beginning of the game, which left a big impression on me.  I've been studying more about writing for games and I hope to be able to write things that play on multiple levels like that in the future.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Down From Review

Turns out that it didn't get packaged correctly, so I needed to upload again.  Unfortunately I'm not allowed to upload very often so I can't give it another try until next Monday.  I also didn't get as far as I had hoped on my new game since the family got sick over the weekend.  I'll announce it as soon as I get some of the major components working.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Up for review!

March to the Moon is now up for review on App Hub.  If it passes then it will (finally) be on the xbox!

Lots and lots of crap!

Sorry for the lack of a post last week.  Things have been a little hectic for me.  I think we're finally going to get our window leak fixed at the home.  That's going to take a lot of stress off of working on games at home, so that's nice.

I got everything fixed for the Xbox release of March to the Moon and tried to submit it last night.  I kept getting errors and nothing actually got submitted so that made me sad.  I'm going to give it another try today.  But what about the PC version?  Well, there's still a few problems with the website that I'm working on.  As soon as I get it fixed we're going to get some server space and update the address to point to the new site instead.  After we've got an official site up I'm going to start hitting up other places like Steam, Desura, Indievania and a few others.

Back in the actual game design area, I've done some work on Siphon Spirit (remember that?).  Fixed a problem with the loading that was allowing Peter to go and crash the darn game whenever he wanted.  Okay, it was allowing him to crash the game regardless of whether he wanted it to crash or not but ANYWAYS I got it fixed.  I also added a keyboard controlled crash so we can get a debug log whenever we want.  He wasn't too thrilled with that.  Oh well, I aim to please!  But no, that's not all I did!  I also added in foreshadows.  When you cast the reveal spell you get to the next stage of the level, but now you can see shadows of things that will show up in the next stage.  No hints as to which is which though.  Is it a cluster of free energy?  Is it a demonic void?  Cast the spell and find out!

Now, I'm not claiming that I'm the only one doing work on Siphon Spirit.  Peter's been tearing it up getting a ton of art in for the new demo.  The plan is to get the demo done in time for Indie Game Night on Tuesday.  It's getting close... hope we can get it done in time.  On the downside, it looks like we need a new musician.  Crap.

But that's not all!  We've also got my new project going on.  My new artist, Leah, got me some background art and button art which already makes it look way better than March to the Moon.  My goal is to get it totally working in time for Indie Game Night.  It was really looking like I was going to be able to do it, but then Peter wanted me to make Siphon Spirit work right and not crash and have foreshadowing.  Not to mention that I was sick for a week.  I got a lot of the screens done, and I think it's still possible for me to get most of it working, so we'll just see how I'm doing then.  Expect to see an announcement next week along with some early screenshots!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

One problem left!

I got MttM to load and save the game quickly now.  Now it's just down to speeding up the loading of the game files and quicken the screen changes.  Unfortunately, I'm sick.  I'm not getting a lot of time to sit at the computer and work on things.  And when I do get time to sit down and work on things I have to do stuff for fixing the windows.  Double checking licenses, researching what different licenses mean, contacting different companies...  it's driving me nuts.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Down to....two issues!

Okay, this feels much better.  Now I can see the whole game on my little standard-def TV.  It was such a pain before when I couldn't see enemies at the sides, or even how much HP I had left.  I THINK that I also have it fixed for HD TVs, but I haven't been able to go check it yet.  Now I just need to take care of a few slowdown issues and I can get it out there.

Peter's been working like a maniac rewriting the beginning of Siphon Spirit and he should have the the new first level done tonight.  The hope is that we'll have a new demo for people to play in about two weeks.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Down to...three issues.

I got the saving and loading working.  Now I just need to make the saving not make the game stop.  One step forward and one step back.  The worst part is that I can only work on it while I'm at home and not cleaning or watching the kids.  That's like 30 minutes a day, and deploying the game to the xbox is pretty slow.  Needless to say, I don't get a whole lot done that way.  I'm hoping to get them released at the same time, but I haven't been able to make much headway on the xbox version.  What to do?

Well, I'm still working on the website.  And the demo for Siphon Spirit isn't done yet.  I'll wait on the PC version until those are ready.  There's not a whole lot to do for the Siphon Spirit demo on my end.  I'm fairly certain that I'll have the website finished before the demo is done, so as soon as I get the website ready to roll I'm going to start on my next project.  It's going to be completely different from March to the Moon and will not the be sequel.  It's a fairly short project and I'm hoping to finish it in 3-4 months.  I'll start on March From the Moon after it's finished and I've had the chance to read reviews and see what changes people want.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Down to three issues

Yup!  Just three things left until I can get it in to be reviewed on the xbox.  1. Get the saving and loading working correctly.  2. Display correctly on TVs.  3. Make the screen transitions faster.

I made some progress with 1. yesterday.  I think I'm really close on it now.  Today I'm stopping by a friends house so we can find out what it looks like on a HD TV.  I'm not cool enough to have one myself.  3. is going to be a lot more tricky.  Hopefully I can get it figured out.  The PC version is done but I'm waiting until we get a demo for Siphon Spirit up to help advertise for that as well.  I also need to finish making the new califergames website.

Sorry for the short post, I'm feeling exhausted :(

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Failing on the Xbox

Okay, the website is coming along pretty well now.  I just wish the porting to the Xbox360 was going so well.  There's a LOT of slowdown in the game that needs to be cleaned up.  It's perfectly fine on the laptop, but on the xbox it's just not cutting it.  I also need to change the saving stuff and resize the screen.

I'm close, I really am.  Hopefully it will be done soon (and heck, the PC version pretty much is done.  I just need a demo).  I hope to be able to start a new project soon.  Or maybe even TWO new projects...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Getting ready to port to the xbox

Well, the only thing that's keeping me back from putting the game out is the lack of a website to sell it on.  However, I can still put it on the xbox.  I think.  I haven't actually put it on the xbox yet, but I do have a Creator's Club membership and have gotten another XBLIG game onto it and reviewed it.  Hopefully I'll be able to get it on the xbox tonight and get it on there.  I've been busy revamping the website (still) and have started on the March to the Moon section now.  Going to work on the Siphon Spirit section next and hopefully have a short updated demo of it before March to the Moon comes out.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Making websites.

In order to actually sell March to the Moon, I'm going to want a website.  Sure, I could put it out on XBox LIVE Indie Games without having a website, but I think it's better to have something for people to go visit if they end up liking the game.  We're hoping to have a new, updated demo for Siphon Spirit as well so that we can get more people to see it and hopefully be interested.  As for March to the Moon I just need to add a screen for people quitting the demo and it's finished.

But since I apparently don't want to sit back and relax at all, I already have the design doc done for my next game.  Since I haven't done any work on it yet (aside from planning and documentation) I don't want to talk about it yet.  One thing I am going to say is that it is NOT the sequel to March to the Moon and it isn't a big game.  I hope to have it finished in 3-4 months of starting.  I will probably take a small break before starting that project to add another 50 or so levels to Siphon Spirit to use the advanced spells, which got added in after I'd already made a number of levels.  The reason I'm not jumping into the sequel for March to the Moon is that I want to have a chance to get some feedback and see what people want to see before I jump in.  3-4 months after release I should have all the feedback that I can reasonably expect.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's video time!

First up, let's watch the trailer for March to the Moon!

I'm pretty much done on it now.  I just have a few bugs to clean up and test a few abilities.  After that, I'm just waiting until we finish setting up the LLC and the bank account we're going to make for it.  After that's up I can get on the Creator's Club and actually put my game on the XBox.  Looking forward to finally getting a game finished!

But wait, that's not the only game we've got a video for!  Here's a video of Siphon Spirit in action.

Looking good!  It actually looks better on my laptop, but the compression I did on the video makes it look a bit darker than it already is.

What else is going on?  I'm glad you asked!  Peter and I are completely remaking the site so that it's more of a Califer Games thing instead of just a Siphon Spirit thing.  On top of that, I've been doing some planning for my next game.  I've done my research and I'm going to write the design doc today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I didn't mean to, it just kind of happened... I was planning on the fourth beta being the last, but now people are actually talking more about the difficulty levels. The general consensus now is that it gets too easy, especially in Hero mode. I'm going to go for one more round of testing where I introduce something to make the game more difficult and also make getting multiple skills more attractive.

Aside from that, I've been really busy setting up Califer Games as an LLC. It's going a little slow since we're trying to make sure that we actually do it right. We're trying to get it done now so we can set up a bank account and use that to pay for server costs so that we can get a server and COMPLETELY revamp our webpage. Since it's being hosted by google pages there's no place for us to upload files to. Hopefully soon I'll be able to get a demo done for people to download. You know after I finish coding the site so I can show the game that I coded.

Maybe I'll just take a nap.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The final round of beta testing is out! It seems almost unbelievable that I'm finally going to sell my first indie game. And that it's not Siphon Spirit. Some of the feedback I've been getting has been a bit confusing though. I have had the same amount of people say that the game is pretty hard as I have say that it is too easy.

What can I do about that? What SHOULD I do about that? My first thought it that there is no way that I'm going to be keeping everyone happy. If I take the suggestions of the people saying that it's too easy, the people who think it is pretty hard (but not too hard) will suddenly find it to be too hard. I wouldn't want to play a game that's too hard. On the other hand, if I make the game easier to make the people who think it's pretty hard happy I'll completely lose the people who think it's too easy right now. I'm highly tempted to leave it just as it is. I might drop the XP gain by 10-15%, but no more than that. As it is, I'm expecting people to be level 100 when they reach the final boss.

Normal mode is just going to be the easiest mode. This is something that I struggled with while I was designing how much HP enemies should have. If I assume that everyone is going to build up only one or two abilities (such as Bow and Multi-shot) then I should boost all the enemy HP as the hero has no actual stats to boost the damage even more when they reach higher levels. But if I do boost all the enemy HP to assume that they have maxed out skills from the beginning then no one can play a character with four different active abilities. Each play style should be able to beat the game.

Also, I really don't know how far these people are getting. Or, for the most part, what they are playing as. The player that says it's too easy while using the hunter and just shooting multiple arrows will find they will need to diversify on later levels when their maxed out arrows don't quite do the job any more.

Of course, a big part of me wants the game to be absolutely perfect. So when I'm sitting here seeing feedback on the final beta test that has some really good ideas, I have to reluctantly realize that it's too late to add them. Looking back, some of the ideas are things that I already vetoed for this game because I wanted to finish it eventually. Perhaps we'll be seeing a bunch of new features in the sequel....

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Okay, I've been working hard this week getting accounts at a bunch of different places. Check out the side-bar to see what they are! I've gotten some other work done on making the installer look better and got started on the box art, but when I realized how small Microsoft shrinks the box art images I realized that I need to rework it. Time to write a press release!

March to the Moon has only had a few changes in the last week, but I did get a few bugs cleaned up in Siphon Spirit.

Also, if you want to get into making games because you like playing games you might be interested in the following story. I just finished Half-Life last night. Steam tells me that I put a total of 19 hours into the game. I started playing in mid-December. It turns out that making games takes a lot of time away from playing games.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

If only...

If only it was as easy to sell a game as it was to make it. Okay, so it's probably harder and more time consuming to do all the work to make it, but that just makes me all the more tired at the thought of everything I'm going to have to do in order to market this thing.

I just want to take a nap.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beta Stage 3

The third stage of beta testing is going out in just a few minutes. While I wait for feedback from this group I'm going to put some more time into making the modding guide.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Footage and testing

Well, I got that video done that I was talking about! Here you go.

I was going to start a new round of testing today, but then I got a bunch of feedback! If you're still waiting to test then I'm sorry, but it's going to be a few more days. On the bright side, you'll have a better version of the game to play.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Marketing Prep

Well, after a bit of a false start with the beta testing (bad installer) We're finally beta testing! They haven't given me any feedback yet, so I'm looking for other things to keep me occupied. For instance, gameplay footage! I was hoping to have a video for you guys to watch today, but I ended up finding out that the free version of Fraps puts a watermark and only allows 30 seconds of video at a time. So I bought it.I"ll have some videos next time :)

As for Siphon Spirit, since things are a little quiet while I wait for feedback I will probably jump back in there to add another 40-50 levels using the advanced spells.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Time for some beta!

Okay, so I've finally got everything together except for a good working installer. I'm just going to put the requirements in as a forced install rather than checking to see if you already have stuff installed. Sorry, I'll try to fix it in the next wave.

As for how the beta is going to work, I'm going to choose a few people to be the first wave, then fix things according to suggestions. Then I'll put out a new build for testing and add more people into the group. If you don't get the beta link right away don't worry, I will get to you. Unless of course we talked about getting you in the beta a while ago and I forgot to write it down. In which case, I am already sorry :(

Also, we had Indie Game Night last night! Jay at Rampant Games gave a nice little write up on March to the Moon which I'm going to copy below.

I ended up spending way too much time hogging up Curtis Mirci‘s March to the Moon game, which I’ve played and enjoyed before. It’s a goofy little action game with RPG elements, and I mean goofy. Programmer art, and completely over-the-top, and exactly the kind of fun I was looking for. Good ol-fashioned shoot-em-upiness with absolutely no taking of itself seriously.

It's true! I had to ask him to let someone else take a turn. He had a great suggestion that I'm going to implement. I was a bit surprised at how much people were laughing at the humor in the game. I was talking to someone about an idea they had to help indie developers get art, and I kept getting distracted when everyone around me would burst out laughing in reaction to what was happening in the game.

Well, I'd better finish that installer so I can finally let other people test this thing!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Making Progress!

Okay, so I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that I saved a few hundred dollars. The bad news is that's what I was going to pay for the music. The problem is that the musician has gotten burned out and just can't seem to get back into it. This is something that I totally understand so I was equal parts wondering what I'm going to do for music and hoping that he'd be able to get through it. I didn't post yesterday because I was still trying to figure out what I was going to do.

And today, I managed to make a song. Not a long, complicated or beautiful song, but I think it will work for March to the Moon. With any luck I'll have a beta version ready for testing at the beginning of next week. If you're interested in beta testing March to the Moon but haven't talked to me about it yet send me an email (califer at and I'll get you something to test :)

As for Siphon Spirit, I cleaned up the loading screens and it looks much better now. There is also a stylus option to let those who play on tablets play the game. I also got Siphon Spirit to work well with an XBox controller, so I'm pretty darn happy with what I've got finished there.

But wait, there's more! I am also coding up the vertical slice (getting the most basic things to work) for our next joint game. It's going to be a fun and cute game that's good for having friends over. I hope to be able to show it at indie game night next week, but since I'm making music now I'm not sure if I'm going to have enough time to finish it up.

But wait some more, there's even more! In my spare time I've been working out details for the sequel to March to the Moon. I've been having a lot of fun with it. It carries directly on after the full story of March to the Moon. Note: beating MttM on Normal mode does NOT give you the full story. You get the rest of the story by beating the entire game. Anyways, back to the sequel to March to the Moon (which will not be titled March to the Moon 2). I've planned out the main character and all the outfits that you can unlock. I've also planning out all the enemies (though not all of their moves yet) as well as all the locations that you can visit.

Last of all, sorry for the late post. I was trying to figure out what was going to happen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finally better!

Wish it didn't take me an entire week to get better, but that's what happened. This morning I managed to clear out the issues with the controls and now I'm...well I'm still waiting for the audio before making the beta to be tested. Guess while I'm waiting I can do some art for xbox stuff, like the boxart and the jpg icon they want. There are also a few changes to Siphon Spirit that we want to add, such as fixing up the loading screens for the rest of the game. I also learned more about xbox controllers when writing up the controls scheme for March to the Moon so I'm going to take another crack at getting Siphon Spirit on the Xbox. I won't bother with a controller version for the PC because no matter what I do, the mouse is going to be the superior option for this game.

Lastly, I want to get Siphon Spirit to work with a stylus in full screen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And as I neared the finish line...

By all rights, I should have the installer for the pre-demo done today. (Waiting on music before I make it the final demo.) Then I got sick and didn't do anything. Going back to bed now.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Take that, Alien Champion!

In my process of balancing things out I was regularly defeated by my own creations. The worst of the bunch was the Terror Mode Alien Champion. I ended up taking a break from balancing (for one day) and instead worked on fixing and adding a few things. The major thing that needed to be added was the ability to reallocate your points. I've had the complaint more than once that people really wanted to remove points from an ability that they didn't like too much, but I figured it would be fine. It's only a dollar game and there are 108 abilities and 96 levels. That's TONS for a $1 game, I feel. But in the end I caved in to the imagined annoyance from reviewers and gamers and put it in. I was going to take a screen shot of it, but the version on this computer doesn't have it yet. Instead here is a Paladin starting his journey.

I'm getting so close that I can taste it. I told a friend that I would have it ready for beta testing within three weeks. He let me know that that wasn't the first time he'd heard something like that from me and made me feel the shame. But I'm serious! Okay, so I was serious the other times too. Whatever. All I need to do is balance the last act of the last difficulty, clean some bugs, balance a few abilities and add button mapping support for PC builds.

Oh, and remember this game?

Peter's been working hard on the story. He says he's 60% of the way along now, and when he's done he's going to have one of his designer friends look it over and give advice. I can't wait until it's finished so I can start recording some demon voices! The image above is the new map screen. Active levels are animated. The skeletons walk and the demons loom menacingly. The two white skeletons are levels that have been beaten. They don't move around. And I cheated to get that screen. Levels that you haven't unlocked will appear as nodes to show what levels there are, but you won't know if it's a boss level coming up next or not. And we've decided that the LOADING... text was a pretty bad loading screen. Here's the new loading screen!