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.