Well, it’s done! The beta version was submitted. And although I wouldn’t call it a completed game, I think it’s a pretty fine demo. I can’t show it yet though because of the contest rules.
Overall, it lacks a good chunk of content (story/creatures/spell icons) but the game itself and the mechanics are in place. It already makes a fully playable and enjoyable “first chapter” game. The other thing that would be good is balancing the creatures for multiplayer and deepening tactics, both which require the long awaited beta testers.
However, and perhaps more than anything, I hope to see that there would actually be players liking my game and wanting to play more of it. After all, working on it takes time and sweat, and there are still dozens of things that could be improved. I guess I need some enthusiasm to do that, and feedback and a little cash would be the right fuel for it!
I hope you will soon be able to enjoy the game as well!
After a bit of polishing here and there, the game already feels much nicer, smoother. It is surprising how a few details can enhance the gaming experience. Sure, it’ll stay a little game, but a pleasant one. I’m also pretty sure that, with some more work and tweaking, it has the potential to become quite a nice game.
That being said, my reluctance to pay money from my pocket for art is causing me huge time wastes and delayed / last minute graphic assets. In retrospect, I think it was an error. I spent way too much time looking for every possible offer to “maximize” the bang for your bucks, to spare money, etc. But hey, it’s really hard to put money on the table when you have no idea if it’s gonna take off or not.
At least, if this game becomes merely successful, I’ll definitely be more comfortable about spending money for artists.
Well, I had the feeling the game was bad. But now that I tweak, I think it’s becoming “ok”. Sure, it’s not the super mega ultra game I expected it to be, but I think it can become a quite nice little game though.
The gameplay is missing a bit of depth, the game needs a bit polish, content/graphics are still to be made, etc. but overall it feels like it has some potential to actually become an enjoyable game.
The thing I’m missing the most is actually feedback from players and an involved and responsive graphic artist.
So you spent many months of working on a game, with lots of sweat and efforts …and now you have a prototype. …but what if it sucks? What if your “dream game” turns out to be …well …boring? You’ll say: “nah, my game will be great!”, but are you sure? Between what we wish it’ll turn out to be and reality, there may be a gap, sometimes a big one.
At least, this is the situation I face. When I imagined it in my mind, everything seemed like cool and it would turn out great. Now that I’m playing my own game, well, I find it dull. Just plain dull.
Here is the demo, fresh out from the labs:
But I won’t give up yet, I want this to be a good game. Therefore, please help me to make a good game out of this! I’m open to any suggestion or tweak to make the game better!
This post is mainly dedicated to my mysterious and anonymous fan! A post just for you!
Besides of this, everything is “more or less” on track, except the graphics which are a bit lagging behind and a lot of small stuff I surely grossly underestimate. Let me also announce the first multiplayer test run this Week-End, stay tuned!
By the way, I also would like to thank my main artist in this post: congrats Sammy!
She’s very talented, although she takes ages for her commissions ;). You can please your eye with some of her wonderful work here: http://sammystudio.co.uk
Lastly, I also thank my girlfriend, friends, people I know, and strangers participating to the testing, and helping me to make this a better game!
Check it out here:
On one side, it looks good, on the other it feels a bit dull and boring right now. I think I urgently have to make the battles more entertaining/tactical/whatever.
Currently it feels like a brainless “hit & repeat” …I think …however, it would be good to hear others opinions.
I also have a few hesitations regarding the core gameplay. The goal is to make it very tactical, yet simple and intuitive. For instance, I figured down that there should be a cooldown mechanism once you attacked. But should it be a fixed number? Specie specific? Skill specific? Something else?
The same goes for the core “attack” mechanics. Should there be different damage types and resistances? Or simply the armor/piercing concept? Or “elemental” strengths and weaknesses?
It’s really hard to find the sweet spot between easy&intuitive and deep&tactical.
Lastly, there are many other areas, which I think could make the game more appealing and interesting. For instance:
- more species
- multiplayer mode
- a story and a map
- polishing stuff
- more skills, better strategy/tactics
- a tutorial
- sound & music
But all these also require work!
So, what would you think is the most important? Which one of these priorities would you pick?
Most of the learning process is now over. At least I feel like I start to spend more time making than learning stuff. The first results can be seen and it feels good. At least a glimpse of the UI interactions are there! You can now navigate from the login to the map, the lobby, the team formation, the shop, etc.
…but on the other hand, I feel the motivation dump lurking around. You feel kind of exhausted, mainly because you work alone in your corner, nobody cares about your stuff. This makes life quite hard and self-motivation gets exhausted after some time, always harder to refill. Keeping motivation up is certainly one of the challenges of indie or aspiring developers!
Choosing a technology is quite difficult, isn’t it? And extremely time consuming!
There are so many techs, frameworks, libraries, that you spend as much time exploring them as you would writing a game. In this article, I’ll also skip the other techs like unity, HTML5, java webstart, silverlight, etc. (despite they are very interesting alternatives!) and focus solely on flash, mainly because it is a constraint of the contest.
Even when constraining yourself to flash, you still have lots of choices: do it in AS3? in HaXe? in Flex? in AIR? in NME? use pure flash? steampunk? flixel? should I use Adobe tools? or another IDE? or drop all that to use a “game maker” like stencil? …all these possibilities produce flash applications, but each of them work very differently. These are completly different approaches and frameworks.
I spent lots of time exploring the various alternatives. Not hours, nor days, but weeks! In the end, I would say that HaXe is my preferred language. It’s easy, it’s intuitive and it has all you need built-in. The issue with it is that it’s sometimes difficult to incorporate external libs. In this particular case, I failed to make the playerIO API within HaXe. This is the main reason I didn’t go that route.
My second prototype was with flash/AS3, it was quite OK. It needs some time until you get a grip at how the API works, and it is sometimes frustrating because you spend a lot of time googling to achieve tiny things. But once you got it, well, you got it. However, you soon reach it’s limits if you need more advanced components and layouts (panels, lists, scrollpanes…). If you need that, you have 3 choices: write these components yourself, use a UI framework, go the flex route. Using my personal experience, I strongly advice the latter one.
After going forth and back between flash and flex, I must say I’m quite happy I finally settled for flex. In the beginning, it was quite confusing to write pseudo-xml files instead of code, and the learning curve was steep as well. Heck, I didn’t even know how to call code from my mxml files! However, in the end, after all this learning, it pays off. The whole feel very organized, the UI stuff clearly apart form the logic, and a lot of fancy components and effects to work with.
Note though that I only advise flex if you need some sort of UI with several screens, buttons, lists and that kind of stuff. If you make a platformer with solely a 3 button menu, you are probably better off with plain AS3.
Well, I’m making the first steps with flash and playerIO. Got two things made:
- The ability to switch between the 4 main screens:
- The chat is working in the lobby! It’s a bit rough however.
Actually, most of the time spent isn’t “programming”. It’s looking for stuff and trying to get stuff working.
By looking for stuff, I mean spending time on forums or art sites to try to find affordable artists to make some graphics, making posts, mails, wondering if I’ll let go so many of my bucks, looking for free assets or placeholders, etc. Tremendously time consuming!
The other thing is “trying to get stuff working”. For instance, the requirement is simple: I need a scrollable list to list the players. Well, guess what, flash doesn’t have that built-in. And instead of using a “addChild(new ScrollableList())” I’m spending dozens of hours investigating what libraries exist, what they can do, how they work, etc. As far as I see it, there are 3 core options:
- Minimal Components
For AsWing, things looked nice but there were to issues: there is nearly no documentation or tutorials. After several hours, I still didn’t manage to display a single button.
For flex, well, seems the official way so it shouldn’t be so bad. You have tutorials there “learn flex in a week” and suddenly, when making a flex project type, you aren’t in your code anymore but in some XML stuff. Heck, I just want to add a scrollable list!!!
Minimal Components seems like another alternative. Sadly, I don’t see any information to skin it.
After several days and many hours trying to port the PlayerIO to HaXe, I finally given up. I think I’m close to a working solution, but who knows how much time it would need to go from this “nearly working” stuff to a really working stuff. Therefore, I’ll try to port the existing stuff back to flash. Which is kind of a pity though since I liked HaXe a lot …but it’s the most pragmatic choice. I literally don’t have time to spend more hours trying to use PlayerIO with haxe.
Motivation also went down, probably because I’m working on it by myself and don’t get any encouragement from others. Perhaps because of how much time was eaten to produce so little. Nevertheless, I’m still on course, and decided to simplify it even more!
Simplification 1 – No campaign
Multiplayer is already complex enough, and is part of the requirements for the contest, so I’ll have to keep it. However, I’ll drop all I planned with a campaign, map, story… The game will have simply two options: play a game against someone, or play a game against a dummy CPU. The last screen is the one for choosing the creatures in your team. And lastly a last one to buy “premium creatures” …also a requirement of the contest.
Simplification 2 – Creature Skills
Three kind of attacks:
- Melee (attacks the next creature in front)
- Ranged (attacks any creature)
- Area ( attacks all creatures, although usually less powerful)
Attacks will also only have immediate effects. (no more poisoning over time, etc.)
That being said, I will now work on making a working lobby.