OK, a completely different approach this time (based on the “new technique for Render to Texture” that I mentioned last time). And it works a lot better – lighting, shaders, etc is all there for free (but something is wrong with the side-to-side)
A bunch of indie game devs (including various friends of mine) are doing an AMA right now on Reddit. Go have a look (and ask some questions) if interested.
I found the answers this question a bit depressing though, given that the audience has increased 100-fold in the last 2 decades. Sad that indie developers still find it almost exactly as hard today as they did in the 1990′s :(.
(unsubstantiated, but hilarious): “If the measurement is close enough to the surface, light rays can curve downward at a rate equal to the mean curvature of the Earth’s surface. In this case, the two effects of curvature and refraction cancel each other out and the Earth will appear flat in optical experiments.”
…”an increase in air temperature … of 0.11 degrees Celsius per metre of altitude would create an illusion of a flat canal, … [or if] higher than this … all optical observations would be consistent with a concave surface, a “bowl-shaped earth”"
…”Ulysses Grant Morrow, … found that his target marker, eighteen inches above water level and five miles distant, was clearly visible he concluded that the Earth’s surface was concavely curved”
(the history of maps and globe representations of the Earth is full of wonderful things like this)
IMHO this is one of those watersheds: for the people who still believe “I could tell” if video is fake … no, you can’t. Done properly, you really can’t.
UPDATE: and the blog from one of the guys who did it
“Tomb Raider triggered me, sure. But it didn’t do it needlessly. It didn’t do it tactlessly. It didn’t do it for a cheap rise. It instead captured a real emotion and a real experience millions of women will encounter in their life. Some of them won’t be as lucky as I was. Some of them won’t be as lucky as Lara Croft was, either. Some of them won’t survive. Some of them will be silenced forever.
Some of them will die and some of their attackers will live.
Tomb Raider triggered me and that’s ok. Maybe that’s even good. I think it is because it means it’s the first realistic, non-gratifying portrayal of violence against women that I’ve seen in video games. It’s the first one I’ve seen that wasn’t exploitive.”
Carlo Delallana responds to the sensationalized report that “I think most game designers really just suck”:
“One of biggest problems that game designers face in their path towards mastery is respect. It’s easy to respect an artist with a demonstrable skill, no average person assumes they can do what an engineer does. But game designer? For one thing our profession faces a common misconception, that game design is coming up with ideas (as noted by Garrott’s comment on lazy designers). That all you need to do is clone, that you are no better than your competition (as noted by Mark Pincus).
We are a compromised profession, tasked at executing a formula to minimize risk. Unfortunately, executing on formula is counter to mastery of any skill. If the marching order is “status quo” instead of “challenge yourself” then how does a game designer grow?”
(NB: Gamasutra clearly did the IMHO scummy journalist thing of sensationalizing RG’s quote; and RG should have been a lot more careful – personally I believe he didn’t mean it the way it came across, but it came across … badly)
Either way, Carlo’s reply is worth reading in full
Most of the teams were adults (even: real companies), but a team of students from Blatchington Mill School won, with their idea for an iPhone/iPad app: “My Science Lab”.
Team: Quantum Games
The three students named themselves “Quantum Games”: Jon, Nick, and Oli. All three of them have been studying for their GCSE’s in parallel with this project.
They’ve been supported by Mark Leighton, Assistant Head / ICT Director at the school.
For mentoring and game-development expertise, they had me – Adam Martin – previously CTO at MindCandy and NCsoft Europe, now an iPhone/Android developer
The students chose to focus on a game that would help other students revise the “Momentum” part of GCSE Physics.
In summer/autumn 2012, they learnt the basics of game design and development. We didn’t do any formal teaching – they simply had to pick up the skills they needed as we went along. YouTube videos, and “trial and error”, were our primary techniques…
By the end of 2012, they’d written their own physics engine, some basic gameplay, and a simple simulation of an exercise/problem in Momentum.
The big thing this month has been BETT. Pearson had a large stand, and asked the students along to talk about the project. They gave an excellent presentation to an audience of approx 30 people at BETT, covering the background and some of the things that went well, that didn’t, and what they’d learnt from it.
Leading up to BETT, they worked hard to squeeze in a new build of the game, with a rethink on the interactive sections and how they hang together. Unfortunately, we hit what seemed to be a major bug in Unity’s camera-handling, and none of us could fix it in time (nor could we get an answer from Unity support in time). But the students managed to invent a workaround at the last minute which worked fine for demoing at BETT.
The game isn’t finished yet – GCSE’s and schoolwork left too little time to complete it before BETT – but we’re very close now. The students are aiming to finish it off this month and next, and I’m hoping I might even be able to take a copy to the GDC conference in March (taking place in San Francisco, GDC is the commercial games industry’s main annual conference).
In the meantime … you can sign up now on the Quantum Games website (http://quantumgames.co.uk), and we’ll email you as soon as the game is ready – or sooner, with a private beta-test!
I noticed a few months back that Pat Wyatt has been blogging rgularly and in a lot of detail last year. This (IMHO) is big news: Pat is an awesome developer who held key positions in the teams behind many of the bestselling computer games (e.g.: Diablo 1 + 2, Starcraft, Warcraft) and went on to co-found Arena.Net (creators of Guild Wars).
I worked with him briefly in the past, and he’s friendly and full of advice and knowledge – but while he was happy to share, IIRC it was rarely in published form.
I’ve had a tough few months, but I’ve been dipping into his blog a few times, and it delivers in spades. Here’s a few hilights:
Assertions: enable them in live builds
(I’ve always felt this was the “right” way to do it for servers – where you don’t have to worry so much about frame-time, and assertions are more valuable at runtime because they help with the hardest-to-trace bugs … but it’s hard to get broad data on what the performance cost is)
“The bug was easily fixed by upgrading the build server, but in the end we decided to leave assertions enabled even for live builds. The anticipated cost-savings in CPU utilization (or more correctly, the anticipated savings from being able to purchase fewer computers in the future) were lost due to the programming effort required to identify the bug, so we felt it better to avoid similar issues in future.”
…and a great rule of thumb for any Programmer:
“After my experience reporting a non-bug to the folks at Microsoft, I was notably more shy about suggesting that bugs might be caused by anything other than the code I or one of my teammates wrote.”
Some bugs are due to … user’s broken hardware
“Mike O’Brien, one of the co-founders and a crack programmer, eventually came up with the idea that they were related to computer hardware failures rather than programming failures. More importantly he had the bright idea for how to test that hypothesis, which is the mark of an excellent scientist.
He wrote a module (“OsStress”) which would allocate a block of memory, perform calculations in that memory block, and then compare the results of the calculation to a table of known answers. He encoded this stress-test into the main game loop so that the computer would perform this verification step about 30-50 times per second.
On a properly functioning computer this stress test should never fail, but surprisingly we discovered that on about 1% of the computers being used to play Guild Wars it did fail! One percent might not sound like a big deal, but when one million gamers play the game on any given day that means 10,000 would have at least one crash bug. Our programming team could spend weeks researching the bugs for just one day at that rate!”
AI cheats to improve game balance in RTS’s, starting with Warcraft/Starcraft
In most Warcraft missions the enemy computer players are given entire cities and armies to start with when battling human players. Moreover, Warcraft contains several asymmetric rules which make it easier for the AI player to compete, though these rules would perhaps be called outright cheating by most players.
One rule we created to help the computer AI was to reduce the amount of gold removed from gold mines to prevent them from being mined-out. When a human player’s workers emerge from a gold mine those workers remove 100 units of ore from the mine and deliver it back to the player’s town hall on each trip, and eventually the gold mine is exhausted by these mining efforts. However, when an AI-controlled worker makes the same trip, the worker only remove 8 units of ore from the mine, while still delivering 100 units into the AI treasury.
This asymmetric rule actually makes the game more fun in two respects: it prevents humans from “turtling”, which is to say building an unassailable defense and using their superior strategic skills to overcome the computer AI. Turtling is a doomed strategy against computer AIs because the human player’s gold-mines will run dry long before those of the computer.
Secondarily, when the human player eventually does destroy the computer encampment there will still be gold left for the player to harvest, which makes the game run faster and is more fun than grinding out a victory with limited resources.”
(background: after 8 years as one of the world’s mid-tier MMO games, City of Heroes (+ City of Villains) is being shut down. The community banded together to ask if they could take over running the world that meant so much to them; NCsoft (the publisher, and a company I used to work for) said: no)
“No means no”
NCsoft is basically saying: “Please. We love you, but … you just *don’t understand*. It’s more complex than you could possibly imagine!”
That’s not a dialogue; it reads like a “this conversation ends when I stop talking” monologue.
“Why on earth wouldn’t you say yes?”
Lots of people wondering that. Obviously, being a public company, no-one’s going to answer that in public. We can only guess. But hear’s a few (over the top) suggestions…
If the community succeeds … then THE FEAR IS: some Executive(s), somewhere, are going to look like bad (I’m not accusing; I’m just saying that in corporates I’ve worked at, this kind of *fear* is common). A lot of the work they do is guess-work. That’s fine, they’re paid to make the best decision they can, while never truly know if they made the right one.
But if a bunch of inexperienced, eager novices come along and offer to do it for free. And – the worst possible outcome – they succeed … that could make someone look really bad.
Another thing I’ve seen in corporate politics at this level is a lot of “horse-trading”. i.e. sacrificing one project (that someone else resents, or has been snubbed by) in return for that person helping out out with a problem on a separate project, that you’re trying to rescue.
Who (individually or collectively) made the decision, and what did they stand to gain or lose? (they are probably worried about / aiming for / trying to win … something bigger than this single game. c.f. my 2009 post on why NCsoft is so huge a company gains nothing from “profitable” games, they need “mega profitable” games)
“Software is software”
Has anyone found out yet what format(s) the data is in? Imagine the most insane, unwieldy, incomprehensible, inconsistent, unusable format that bears no relationship *at all* to the game itself … and you’re probably half way there.
This game was written *8 years ago*.
Read the biographies of the people involved. Were they non-game developers … academics with decades of expertise in distributed systems and real-time transaction messaging? … or … were they a bunch of smart guys trying to catch up with the academic research in the space of months, just enough to build and ship a major new computer game? And … most importantly … to make it “fun” before they ran out of budget.
I’ve not yet found an MMO where the people who made it feel – with hindsight – they had any idea what they were doing at the start. When they started, of course, many of them thought they’d covered all the bases, and were “well prepared”. Everyone tries their best up-front (or fails completely); but everyone finds it much harder than expected.
What should we/they do?
Looking at it analytically and logically, I’d give the community a very high chance of failing dismally if they were given the game. But … the eagerness, the excitement, the sheer determination: I’d give them a small chance of succeeding despite everything. Simply because: when you see this much determination, it often wins out and overcomes the obstacles in its way.
So, I say: Go for it.
They know the game they’re trying to (re-)create. The difficulty is simple: whenever you try to re-create a game, the temptation is always there to “improve” it … and 99 times in 100, you find you slightly misunderstood what you were “improving”.
How slow is making iPhone apps using native code?
You have to write HTML5, right, if you want FAST app development on iPhone? Or Unity? Or cocos2d?
Or … write it in Objective-C … a beginner-friendly “native” language: 2 hrs and 15 mins to create the artwork, design the game, code it in native Objective-C, debug it, and push to iPhone devices
NB: first half shows: “Collect the fish, avoid the dynamite, grow bigger!”
Second half shows: “if you hit dynamite, you shrink; when you’re tiny, if you hit dynamite, you’re fishfood :(”
For the love of … WHY?
Because I entered a voluntary “48-hour game jam” (you have one weekend to make a game), and last time I went to the Apple shop for a repair, they dislodged my network card. It fell out, internally, and it’s not user-fixable (believe me, I tried – even specialist screwdrivers aren’t enough :( ).
So I did something else with my weekend. But a few hours before the competition deadline, I figured “what the heck; what could I do in a couple of hours?” … with some encouragement from The Mighty Git.
222 lines of code, including comments, blank lines – and code that I commented out because I replaced it with other code.
That’s all it takes for a working, playable, iPhone game.
…and the art?
You can’t see it from the video, but the art is resolution-independent – as your whale gets bigger, it re-renders, so that all the curves ALWAYS have razor-sharp edges. No effort required on my part.
I did all the artwork in Inkscape (free image editor for vector images), and saved as SVG (web-standard for vector images).
Then, courtesy of the open-source SVGKit project (renders vector images on iOS, because Apple doesn’t add support to their libaries – shame), and the following few lines of code:
self.sivWhale = [[SVGKImageView alloc] initWithSVGKImage:[SVGKImage imageNamed:@"whale-1.svg"]]; sivWhale.frame = CGRectMake( 0, 0, sivWhale.frame.size.width * sivWhale.scaleMultiplier.width, sivWhale.frame.size.height * sivWhale.scaleMultiplier.height ); sivWhale.center = CGPointMake( self.view.frame.size.width/2.0f, 0.75f * self.view.frame.size.height ); [self.view addSubview:sivWhale];
If that looks rather like using a built-in UIImage and UIImageView … it’s because it’s intended to. SVGKit adds a new type of image – SVGKImage – that’s almost the same as an Apple UIImage, except it’s better (it’s resolution independent). And the SVGKImageView does for SVGKImage what UIImageView does for UIImage…
Want the code?
Sadly, the version of SVGKit I used here has some bugs in it – it’s live at: https://github.com/adamgit/SVGKit/tree/transforms – but until it’s been tested and fixed by the SVGKit maintainers, it won’t appear on the main SVGKit project page.
So, feel free to use that link and play with it – but be warned: it’s NOT as stable as the main SVGKit. Yet.
Tim Sweeney, Epic Games (owners of Unreal Engine, and deelopers of AAA games on 360/PS3/iOS):
“The most profitable game we’ve ever made, in terms of man years invested versus revenue, is actually Infinity Blade. It’s more profitable than Gears of War.”
Touch Arcade has some terrible analysis (don’t listen to a word of it), but I quite liked their summary:
“Just let that sink in for a minute. Infinity Blade, an iOS exclusive title that has been priced anywhere between $5.99 and 99¢ over the years, is more profitable than a $60 AAA title that enjoyed all the glitz and glamor that comes along side a multi-million dollar game launch marketing blitz. We’re talking major network TV commercials, prime shelf space in nationwide retailers like Wal-Mart, and everything else …and Infinity Blade wins.”
…although *ouch* at that last 4 words, where they show some stunning foolishness. Console games make *more overall profit* than iOS games – Tim’s words clearly only covered the profit *margin* – making it very stupid to say “Infinity Blade wins”.
And we have to factor in (again, GAH! TouchArcade … do you really have so little idea what goes on in your own area of news?) that InfinityBlade *did indeed* get major TV exposure etc – it’s just that Epic didn’t provide it, Apple did.
What we really want to know is … what’s the ratio of profit margins between the two games – Gears of War 1/2 (their premier console AAA title), and Infiity Blade 1/2 (their premier iOS AAA title)?
My pure guess is that it’s a fairly small multiple – maybe only 1.2 x margin – so that if you have a LOT of money to invest, console is still a good target. Meanwhile, Epic will use this as justification that “everyone should license Unreal Engine v4 – because otherwise your dev costs are too high on console, compared to other platforms”
(as I hope we all realise … Epic stopped being “an independent game developer” many years ago; Epic in the 21st century is “a middleware company, that sometimes makes games on the side”)
Toribash is, simply, awesome. You need no knowledge, you work in bullet-time, deciding which limbs to bend or stiffen, and see a second-by-second preview of what each change would do. String them together, build jaw-dropping martial arts attacks.
The build quality’s poor (no docs, no installer, poor handling for savefiles, etc) – but it’s great fun, and easy enough to understand with just a little clicking around. Play it now!
I’ve recently been playing the excellent Realm of the Mad God – a very fast-paced 2d co-operative shooter. My feeling is that it’s going to be one of the most important games of 2011/2012, as it continues to grow in popularity. Typical experience of this game is that within 30 seconds of being dumped into the main level, you’re surrounded by monsters, and then surrounded by other players, all on the same screen as you, blasting away in a rainbow of colours.
Sounds good. As if that’s not enough … it’s the guys who’ve been working with AmitP (Amit J Patel) (Amit maintains one of the best up-to-date collections of links and algorithms for indie game-developers). If you haven’t seen Amit’s pages, I recommend browsing through the blog – his links collection is OK, but his blog posts on algorithm design are excellent. If you get as far as the posts on “how I auto-generated a realistic 3D-world”, you may notice a striking similarity to the 2D worlds used in RotMG …
Anyway, it parallels an idea for an MMO shooter I’ve had kicking around for a long, long time. For me, it’s been a delight to see what works (and doesn’t) about the core ideas. The RotMG authors have done a great job of making a fast, simple, quick, easy-to-grasp game.
Fast. No barriers to play
This is how MMO-shooters should be: fast, furious, permadeath – but very quick to get back into the fray. You should expect to die tens of times every hour.
Permadeath – but paralled with some perma-advancement
Your progress is split evenly between items (which can be banked) and avatar stats (which are lost forever upon death).
Perma-advancement increases variety, unlocks new features
With 10 classes, there’s plenty of variety – and each class can only be unlocked by achieving a minimum level of progress with one or more other classes.
NB: this part could be improved and expanded IMHO. In particular, the classes are wonderfully varied – but merely unlocking classes isn’t enough these days. Plenty of games have shown that permanent-unlocks work best when there’s a variety of game-features in there. Also, the classes themselves would work better if there were some cross-effects (c.f. Diablo 2′s Lord of Destruction expansion, which had abilities in one class improve abilities in your older classes, re-vitalizing them for re-play)
Free game, paying is optional – payment kicks in when you’re most bought-in to the design
Free players get a tiny storage for permanent items (1/50th of what paying players get – it’s not enough! … so pay!), and are only allowed 1 class “alive” at once.
In a delicious twist, if you don’t pay for the game, the only way to take advantage of a newly-unlocked class is … to commit suicide … since you’re only allowed a single character per account (unless you pay)
You can ONLY benefit from other players, never suffer
(there’s actually a case where you can suffer, sadly – Thief’s get killed as a secondary-effect of other players teleporting to them, since the game doesn’t have a “prevent people from teleporting to me” flag)
This is the one that should have most wannabe-MMO-designers sitting up and paying attention. If you group-up with other players:
- You all get the same experience-points as if you’d single-handedly killed every monster
- You get the points just for being nearby – no need to score hits just to “tag” it for yourself
- Mob strength is constant, but player damage is multiplicative on number of players present
Every player is willing and eager (*) to collaborate with every other player, without words being exchanged, without fear of being ripped-off.
In a game that’s fast paced and frantic, you don’t have to keep pausing to negotiate. Other players can ONLY benefit you, so … run with them.
(*) – or just ignores the other players. Their presence doesn’t provide negative impact on you. It’s only their absence that is negative (in game-design terms).
Interesting design choices for lag
As a real-time game with dozens of players on screen at once, lag is guaranteed to effect gameplay. We’re always saying “try to work around lag through game-design changes”, so here’s the decisions they made:
- When packets are lost, everything moves in exactly the same direction it was going, at exactly the same speed, forever
- “Speed” used above is the “on-screen speed, including any rubber-banding effect”
- FAIL: this means monsters and players often move MANY times faster than they are allowed to – so that when the lag stops, the side-effects are magnified
- Your avatar can’t be hit NOR damaged while it’s missing packets from the server
- For the early parts of the game, this *almost* completely fixes lag problems
- Projectiles (bullets etc) that your client didn’t receive are queued up and sent to you all in one go once the packet-dropping stops
- FAIL: this multiplies the damage output of enemies (NB: not players!), breaking all the designed-in balance in the game
- In mid to late game, this ruins the gameplay – players end up running around never seeing a single enemy, because if you’re close enough to see it, a single flicker of lag will cause you to receive ZERO damage initially, followed by MORE damage than the monster is capable of – delivered instantaneously
- The client is authoritative on player liveness/death
- MILD FAIL: in effect, coupled with the other features of the game, and the lack of lag compensation … this means you CAN and SHOULD (and, for some cases, effectively: MUST) cheat. You can run a bot on your machine – and if the network is less than perfect, you have to, in order to play the game properly.
Overall, apart from the massive security flaw (where anyone could write a bot to be invulnerable – and the developers are encouraging them to do so), it seems very close to a good solution for an MMO shooter.
I’m surprised by the way they approached the “save up the enemy bullets, then unleash them all at once”. My guess is that it wasn’t designed, it was just an accident: maybe they took a slightly lazy approach to compensating for lag (they don’t), and the net effect is this. It looks very much like what you get when using TCP for game-data packets (I really hope they’re not using TCP; if so, most of the lag is the developers’ own fault)
I’ve unlocked half the classes, and looked at what classes other people play (and which classes rise high on the leaderboards). There’s good variety, and almost all the classes get used – even the beginning class, the one you get for free, works well.
Unfortunately, at around 50% through unlocking the special classes, one of the classes is horribly unbalanced. The Assassin (which is supposedly an upgraded Thief – but is a massive downgrade) is almost impossible to play. The special ability fails completely when there’s lag (which is frequent in this game), and the class is the weakest, lowest-range of the lot. Looking around, you rarely see Assassins (I suspect: you only see them when people are desperately trying to upgrade them, to get past this dull and frustrating point in the upgrade tree).
Worse, because the *only* way to unlock the higher level classes is to reach the level cap with this class … you’re forced to play it. Over and over again. Watching the bad game-design … over and over … and over … again.
Every time the assassin dies, it’s like another twist of the knife:
We know you don’t enjoy this
We know that a mistake in our game design has you stuck here
(and our overall game design makes that “mistake” into “a disaster”)
We know that this whole process is turning “a class that wasn’t much fun” into “a class you hate”
And there’s nothing you can do about it!
So, single-handedly, it’s driven me to *not* purchase any game credit. I’d enjoyed the game enough to that point that I’d already decided to buy it – and if this had been on iTunes, I’d have paid already. But since it’s not an iPhone/iPad game, and paying for it is a bit more difficult, I hadn’t made the payment yet.
As it stands, I’m still playing occasionally, but now it’s for research rather than for enjoyment, which is a great pity.
Monetization: money thrown away
I think the developers are missing an ENORMOUSLY successful way to make money from this game. In fact, it’s so big, I suspect they could increase their revenues by a substantial multiplier.
With a permadeath game, there really is no need to actually delete the dead character. If the player isn’t paying, they are forced to kill their character sooner or later to change characters.
Taking a leaf from Flickr’s book, why not keep ONE single character in storage, with a tempting “buy now, for goodies *and to have this one returned to you, ready to play*”?
I’d set it so that when you change class (if you’re a free player), only the last character of the PREVIOUS class is retained. If you switch from Warrior to Knight, you can die many times as a Knight, and your Warrior remains on ice. But if you then grow tired of the Knight and switch to a Rogue … the Warrior is tipped out, and replaced with the last Knight you had.
i.e. you setup the exact flow of decision-making and options and “safety” that the player would have had, if only they’d purchased sooner, and allow them to benefit from it retroactively – if only they make the decision to pay.
Of course, it’s a very limited “retroactively” – it’s a sampler, to let you see the benefits of paying.
(*) – Flickr’s early promise was “upload your photos in highest resolution, you can view them for free – but only low-res versions. HOWEVER, we keep the high-res versions for you – forever, for free – until you decide to purchase a subscription. At which point, not just your new photos, but ALL your photos, become magically available at highest res”. It was a great way of simultaneously offering a high-value to paying customers, while making non-paying customers feel they weren’t committing themselves to loss. It reassured a lot of potential customers at a time when Flickr wasn’t yet famous, and most people weren’t yet “hooked” – it bridged that gap.
So, the interesting question is: how common is this problem?
Are the dev team correlating “players who pay” and “the point at which they pay”?
More importantly, are they correlating “players who DON’T pay” and “how their experience differed from the average”?
The last time I saw an MMO with a level-based kick in the teeth this bad … was in Tabula Rasa. We had a point where poor signposting by the quest designers meant many players were given quests that were many levels too hard for them, and effectively impossible to do. Those players died over and over and over again in a short time – and they hated it.
The dev team knew “you’re not supposed to do that quest”, but often they (randomly) gave it to new players as the first quest. I wasn’t privy to the arguments over whether this needed to be changed (and there were definitely arguments), but I did see the analytics that eventually got produced. They showed an almost perfectly smooth, averaged, graph of player behaviour – bar a big notch at this particular location. It stuck out like Rudolph’s nose on a snowy day.
I wonder if there’s a similar notch in RotMG? For a game that’s almost *designed* to drive people to rage-quit … what stats do they see on “what the last thing was before a player stopped playing forever?” … and what stats do they see on “…stopped playing for a long time, but eventually came back”?
TheChaosEngine – private forums hangout for games-industry professionals. There’s an epic thread on there where people post projects they / their team / their employer has published on iPhone. It’s currently 40 pages long, so I went through and pulled out the links to the iTunes pages for each game.
NB: these run the gamut from “my first iPhone app” to “large-team of developers working for multinational publisher”. Quality here will vary hugely – YMMV!
Also, interesting to note … these are listed in order of posting to the forums, so … as you go down the list, you’re seeing an evolution over time of personal/indie (and occasionally “big team / AAA”) games on the app store.
TCE games, in first-launched order (earliest first)
These posters didn’t provide a real iTunes link – I had to hunt it down on their websites – so they’re out of order:
As a free-time project, I’ve been writing a Risk clone (*) for iPad.
One of the bits I like best right now is that you can give it the URL of *any* SVG file on the web, and it automatically turns it into a Risk map.
(e.g. all the maps in Wikipedia articles are SVG files – it’s a common file format with good browser support)
This was one of those “interesting” technical challenges – I had to find an algorithm that would automatically work out which territories a human would “assume” were connected to each other.
I’m using an open-source SVG library which works fine for basic SVG files but has a lot of bugs with the more esoteric ones. I’ve already fixed a few of the major bugs (they’re now merged into the GitHub project) – but I’d like to get more SVG files to test with.
The one thing to bear in mind is that the colour-data gets wiped when it imports. So … SVG files that make heavy use of different colours or gradient-fills/pattern-fills lose detail when imported.
Also, files where none of the elements are close enough to be deemed “connected territories” … work poorly.
Everything else works fine.
So … if you’ve got any, please post a comment here with URL, or email them to me directly (address in the About link at top of this page).
(*) – I say “clone” because it’s the same genre – but the gameplay is “fixed” quite a lot. If you once loved Risk, but grew to hate it, you’ll see why I wanted to change the baic game design :).
(I’m prototyping a new game (working title: “ChessQuest”) – original post here)
- Enemies have health, and can be killed by touching them
- Performance is another 30% faster (should be running OK on most phones now?)
- Enemies have a direction indicator (not necessary right now, but it’ll become important in a later version…)
That’s one higher than Jim Greer.
Last weekend, I was playing around with some ideas for a Chess / RPG mashup. I did some prototyping with Android (because iPhone apps can’t be shared, and Java is much faster to debug than ObjC).
If you’ve got an Android phone, try this, and let me know if it runs:
- Chess Quest (requires Android 2.1 or newer)
- Chess Quest-0.2 (small features added)
- Chess Quest-0.3.3 (you can actually die now, and you can use trackball for input)
- Chess Quest-0.4.0 (enemies can be killed)
There’s not much you can do – touch and drag on the screen to move up/down/left/right (you’re the Rook – hence no diagonal moves). Bishops and pawns wander around randomly, pawns slower than bishops.
UPDATED: if you rotate the screen sideways, it’ll randomly pick a different size / zoom level. There’s four sizes, from 20×20 squares up to 100×100 squares. Player moves at different speeds based on the size too.
I wanted to make it a dungeon-exploration style, but with a Chess theme – and (like in chess) each time you complete a dungeon (kill the boss) you get to “pawn” and switch your character to the chess piece you killed.
i.e. first boss would be the Rook, second the Bishop, third the Knight, etc.
…but I’m not sure I’ll stick with that. If I get some more time this weekend, I’ll prototype a bit more.
NB: the APK above might run slow – I’m interested if it looks jerky / doesn’t work on your phone. It runs fine on an old Nexus One.