Postmortem: Jumpy Rope is born

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Jumpy Rope is an endless arcade jumper game for iOS, and on Android platforms, featuring low poly graphic style, customizable characters and simple gameplay mechanics.

Jumpy Rope was inspired from Final Fantasy IX mini jump rope game, which has Vivi play jump the rope. I thought it could be fun to have a small game that would bring back these memories. So from the beginning, this is what I wanted to game to play like.

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Art Style orientation

As for visual style, Crossy Road, Monument Valley where all people talked about, and for good reason, they look very good, and they play very well. I decided to go for the same direction and aim for low poly flat shading. I was really fond of the idea to have a small, contained environment. After browsing for inspiration, I found a mix of floating islands like Captain Toad Treasure Tracker. By now, I had gameplay and art orientation, so I started to work on it.

I started to work as I always do, gameplay first, so I focused on the jumping mechanism, which is the most important part of the game, making a tutorial at the same time for thatΒ ( which as evolved from the tutorial, and is was not implemented in the game ).

A week later I had a prototype which ugly models, art, and no polish, as prototypes should be. With a couple of polish here and there, and a couple of assets from Unity’s asset store, I tough I could make it, and release it. It wouldn’t be the best thing in the world, but having no team to work with, it was all I had. Luckily, I stumble upon this:

When I saw this, I immediately knew this was the style and islands I was looking for. After contacting @fifsilva and explaining the project, she jumped along to make a couple of floating islands for Jumpy Rope.

The game went from mediocre looking to awesome! I really love those tiny floating islands she made. This pushed the overall game quality, and I had no more programmer art anymore. All I needed now was characters. I met some people and then was references to others. I was lucky enough to get concept art and models from them.

Characters Concept

Concept art by Jenny Harder

At some point the game looked this this:

And then came the environments:

Couple of months later I was working on two player mode, while waiting for characters and animation ( by Guilherme Martins ), to be finished to be integrated in the game.

While waiting for assets from the team, I had made UI, a Replay System to save people’s games and replay them as ghosts ( never made it ), local two player mode ( was removed because people didn’t play it ), changed leaderboard system to be cross-platform and integrated with facebook, changed gameplay input based on player feedback ( twice ), and of course the api to handle all that stuff online. The UI took several iterations, I really think that at each step it got better, but at some point I had to close on a final version.

In the later stages of development, PedroΒ Costa came in to make the game stand out with audio, sound effects and music. Now the game is freely available on the AppStore, and on GooglePlay.

Here’s the trailer for the final version:

In conclusion.
The bad: No planning whatsoever. I didn’t think ahead and plan the game through. I also probably should have got in contact with the community sooner, to ask for help or get feedback for the game. The lack of planning, made is easy to make ‘just one more feature’, that in the end, either didn’t make it to the final build or took way too much effort for what its worth.

The good: You always learn something, some new technology, new and better code practices, and most importantly, you ship a game! Jumpy Rope made me value planning, and careful consideration of features, what to kill and what to invest in. Get feedback early, get it out to the community as soon as possible.

That’s it for now.
Cheers.

SuperStems is out for iOS

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SuperStems is finally released on the AppStore for iOS! After 14 long days waiting for approval, it finally passed and it up for grabs for free! There are already over 400 downloads and counting, and players are rocking the leaderboard!

I’ve setup a new website for SkyBelow, my new gaming studio.

Edit: I’ve been updating SuperStems since Unity5 was released, and all I can say is that it runs smoother and better looking with the new IL2CPP – converts C# to Cpp to increase performance -, which is awesome! So far I’m testing it on my device, but you should get the update in a couple of weeks. Just enough time to send the new build and get it approved again by Apple.

Super Stems Post Mortem

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B4L4pozCYAAHAwj Super Stems, originally called Stems, started on a gamejam weekend, Ludum Dare 31. The theme was “Entire Game on One Screen”, which many people complained about, me included, since a lot of people were expecting the snowman theme to be chosen. Aside from that, once the theme was announced, I started to make Stems.

So what is Super Stems? Super Stems is a board domination strategy game. You have tiles and board slots. Each tile has three sides, a number attached, and adjacent sides on the board will battle. Upon battle, the higher number will win, and the losing tile will be captured. This is a simple concept that I stripped down from another game I’m planning, which has this basic gameplay with more gameplay mechanics, inventory and multiplayer in it. B4M3HkVCAAAjR2a But since I had only 48 hours to make it happen, I stripped it down to this. A few hours in, I had the tiles and placeholder models and ready to be used in Unity.

I don’t usually take much time in planning during gamejams, I usually go all in with a minimum planning and knowing what I must do and sort and solve problems as they arrive. But since Indies vs Pew Die Pie gamejam went really bad because from the lack of planning, this time around, I took some time to plan ahead and think of what I wanted to make.

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So with my plan written down and my idea right fixed in my head, I started developing the game until I had basic gameplay done. If you asked me by then, how much more time would I take me to finish a minimum viable product, I would’ve said a week, maybe less, but oh boy was I wrong. First things first, the gamejam atitude of coding this and that without taking much care, because time is of the essence, is bad. I don’t use magic numbers, nor hardcode anything. I usually take care in writing beautiful and maintainable code. So for that end, I was good. On the other hand, I manually placed the grid and linked neighbors, one by one. Since the original grid had only 9 pieces, it was fast and did the job. Finding after a few days that some of those links were broken/switched, was bad tho.. Mistake #1.

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But nonetheless, everything was in place, I had the grid, the basic Turn-by-Turn gameplay, basic animation, tile capturing, teams, score. I was just missing an opponent.. better yet.. an Intelligent Opponent. Making the Artificial Intelligence was hard. It was hard because of mistake n# 1, not having a generic grid, in which I could make the calculations required to make it easier for me. Having a properly made grid system, I could have made methods to make my life so much easier, but nooo.. I might have written the battle, capture, AI play code at least 5 times! And by this I mean, really starting from scratch. Taking pen and paper, putting it all in a new perspective. And every time I did it, something good came out of it. Every time it god better. Obviously by now, the 48h period had long gone. I was more like two weeks after the deadline, mainly because I was working on it part time, after work, 3 or 4 hours a day, and you can only do so much.

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But still after those AI changes, it wasn’t working properly yet. I wanted to make it smarter. After another brainstorming session with pen and paper, I finally tweaked the algorithm to make it the way I wanted to. You can now have decent battles with it. It will lose, but also win. So far, from online gameplay and local testing, my analytics say that the AI wins above 60% of the times, so I’m ok with that. During that time, while I was trying to get the AI right, I kept changing the UI, textures and models. The images speak for themselves.

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Right now the game is ready to be published. Its maybe not as polished as I would like it to be, but I have to release it, get feedback, and then I’ll see what I’ll do with it. I’m already thinking of other games I want to make. This is my second ‘board’ game. This one has a new gameplay type, which is good, since I always try to make new gameplay on each game. So I’ll be releasing the game in the upcoming weeks, hopefully this will get some players. At least more than my previous one.

Indies vs PewDiePie Gamejam

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I’ve entered this week’s 72 hour gamejam hosted by Gamejolt with PewDiePie in which the top 10 games would be played by the man himself and broadcasted to the internets and his endless number of fans. As if making games wasn’t reason enough, having the chance to have your game broadcast to millions of his fans sure was another great one.

tl;dr : Didn’t finish the game. Still had fun.

So I’ve put up some time to make a game this weekend, starting on friday night (16 hours late), I didn’t plan much, booted Unity, Maya and Photoshop, and started to make stuff. I’ve came up with a small idea based on Boson X, and wanted to make a fast paced game. I started to model tubes or portals and a spaceship, and laid the foundation of what could be a level.

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First of, I set it all so the level would fall down on you, making the camera look up, it would give the impression of moving forward. I then changed it to side to side, only changing gravity’s axis. Which, again, I changed by making the player move so I would have realistic jumps, instead of moving the world.

About physics. I didn’t plan much of the stuff I wanted to make, I just did it on a necessity basis. So first I made a custom gravity to pull the ship back in the center after a jump. I had the world rotate instead of the ship due to jump + turning issues that would dislocate the ship to places I didn’t wanted it to go. I’ve later removed the jump and animated it, so I would have more control on the behaviour, which turned out pretty nice actually.

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I had a level, level parts, obstacles and items. I soon ditched the obstacles and put bigger ones with doors, changing the game mechanics. Now you would have to jump above the empty space in the doors. Which worked quite nice. At a certain point you would get enough speed and get to the end level and be warped to another one.

Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the game, due to lack of skill, the theme being highly abstract “fun”, mindset maybe, or just because I went to see Interstellar (which was aweeesooomee!!). Overall I worked around 20h on the game, which is not enough to make it. Mistake number one was to not plan. Eager to make something new and something move on screen, I jumped in, thinking, “mehh, It’ll be a small game, I’ll just make this and that, and it will all work”.. but nooo.. I did had to doodle my thoughts into a piece of paper when I was stuck. Mistake number two, take time to fucking plan your game!! Do not start placing things around without knowing what you want to do. Ok, I got it. Mistake number 3, due to the lack of planning, changing scope delayed progress, making it harder to see the end of it, and ultimately missing the deadline.

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Overall, it was awesome! I’ve not been making these gamejams for some time and it felt great. I’m not sad I didn’t finish it, because I’ve learned awesome stuff while making it. Now I guess, I’ll enter the next competition, letting this game go, since it didn’t struck me as fun, so.. it was a great run πŸ™‚
According to CompoHub.net, The 96 Jam with rules is next, and there’s always the One game a month, so I’ll see you around πŸ˜‰

Final Flapasy on Android

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Hey!

So this couple of weeks, I’ve been mostly working on my Thesis, or at least should have been. But the urge of making games has lead me off track. I’ve participated in two gamejams: #candyjam , to protest against King.com and #flappyjam , to support Flappy Bird’s creator.

#candyjam wasn’t that great for me, I was able to make something, but its no fun really, and the artwork wasn’t made by me.

On the other end, #flappyjam was really nice to make. I’ve made all assets and ended up making a clone of flappy bird under a week. My theme of choice was Final Fantasy, hence the name Final Flapasy, so I’ve made a chocobo for the player and some cactuars as the enemies. I hope you like it.

You can play the game for free either at itch.io or gamejolt.com , and you can play it on your Android phone or tablet for free, obviously. Just follow the link to download it for android .

The game is still buggy, and it has no catchy tune, but I’ll keep updating it if enough persons like it and play it. πŸ™‚

If you like the game, please share it with your friends and family πŸ™‚

Now back to the “serious” work. πŸ™‚
Cheers.

Memtiles Kids and Updates

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So, I’m about to release Memtiles kids for Free. Why? Well, because no one is buying the game really. So I’m going to try another approach. I’m going to insert ads, one or two, and I’ll see whether that ends up creating revenue.

The objective here is to make some money in order to fund other games. I have some games in mind already and as soon as I get some time from my Msc Thesis, and occasional game jam participations ( #flappyjam, #candyjam ), I’ll work on two new titles I have been prototyping and playing with.

One will be of the same style of Memtiles Kids, but with a new twist and for a broader audience. The other is completely different, and hopefully challenging.

Postmortem: Memtiles Kids

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So I’ve released Memtiles Kids on Google Play and sales have been like… zero!.. Well, not zero but, 6, but only because friends and family bought the game. The thing is, advertising. Its not easy to NOT be featured in the front page, not even in launch day!.. Seriously.. wtf?

Anyway, I’m “Waiting for Review” on the iTunes Store, and hopefully that route will give me more sales. Either way, I’ll release a free version of Memtiles Kids with the first theme unlocked, on both stores and link back to the paid version when the demo completes. Hopefully I’ll have more downloads on that one, leading to an increase in sales.

I think the way to go now is to make the games free, to maximize downloads, and have in-app purchases to generate income. Noted! I’ll know that for the next game.

Talking next game, what do I have in mind? Memtiles! Different levels, different gameplay, powerups, more fun, In-App Purchases!! and it will be free! Depending on the In-App purchases, maybe with Ads.. Don’t know yet..

After Memtiles, I’m thinking of some other games, but that’s secret. πŸ™‚

Memtiles Kids Released

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memtiles kids logo

Memtiles Kids has been released!

We’ve finally packed the whole thing, polished the last details, and submitted the game to the Google Play Store. You can now purchase and download Memtiles Kids for Android.

It features four unique themes: Colors, Numbers, Shapes and Animals. Play through 180 different and randomly generated levels and challenge your memory!

iOS and Windows 8 releases are expected in the next two weeks, so if you want the game for these platforms, bear with us just a little longer πŸ™‚

Cheers