Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Game Development Blog #68

Game Development Blog #68

"All the news that's fit to print"

I'm back! It's been awhile, as it often is in-between postings for me. So what's going on? Read and find out..

Slow season here at Headcase. Slow as hellllll. To get right to the point, none of my recently talked-about projects are releasing anytime soon; frankly I can't say that I know when they will, either (although they will still see release, and it will definitely happen this year for the majority of them!) Sadly, the issue is what one might expect - when one is not paying upfront for development, it tends to stall. Badly. That's quite unfortunate for many reasons, not least of which is that it hampers my own momentum and enthusiasm to continue on with the projects and then it sort of comes full circle. That being said, I've not let a project die yet and I'm not about to start now! As always, I pledge not to rush something out just to release it fr the sake of getting it out of my life; quality is of maximum importance and so if that stretches the release schedule further than so be it.

As for how things are looking: GunHead is suffering the worst right now, as far as what it's progress should be versus where it is. On the upside, the project is a lot more flushed-out than it's ever been (a lot of the systems have gone past conceptual to implemented at this point) and it still controls great and looks sharp. Lots of assets to build yet, but what's there looks excellent and honestly a huge chunk of work has been figured out, it feels awfully nice to be sitting on top of it.

TrapDoor is moving slowly, it's been stalled for awhile as well but this is primarily my own fault as I've sort of left it sitting on the shelf while my motivation has been frozen. In the meantime, I've come up with some solid ideas to bring it from B+ to A- presentation and I think it will be worth the delay; it's also got my gears spinning about a possible Kinect port as well, and that's got me pretty jazzed actually. Development on iOS continues, including super crazy uprez for the new iPad. I was hoping to launch it (Android version) by PAX but I think I will let it stew a little longer to get it polished up a bit more.

Hop Cop - Have I mentioned this one yet? Once or twice, I think I have! This is a co-production between Headcase and another studio, and it will be an interesting experiment for many many reasons. Sit tight for more news!

Other Projects - lightning struck and I have just had inspiration for a whole new game a couple of days ago (this isn't unusual). Thing is, this one might be one of the easier ones to design and build (super-easy, actually) and it could also be very easy to get movement on the charts with, due to it's nature. It's an understatement to say that I am very excited about this (to the degree that I'd happily drop everything else to concentrate on getting it developed and released). Sadly, I believe there might be some significant technical hurdles which might prevent it from becoming a reality so quickly. Nevertheless, I feel like it's one of those "no-brainer" ideas which hasn't been developed elsewhere yet, however it is only a matter of time before someone else makes this so I am kind of anxious to get moving. I have to talk to some people...

Otherwise, life plods on. With the state of things, I won't lie that my mood is a bit down. I need some good news to kick me back into the positive :) Everything is tight right now, but in spite of it all production continues and progress is being made in one aspect or another, so it's not a waste. I am looking for contract work lately (of any sort) - as I mentioned, things are tight - so if anyone reading this has any kind of hookups, don't be shy.

Off to Boston for PAX next week. Likewise if anyone reading this will be there (media, fans, devs, well-wishers, what-have-you) and would like to meet up, drop me a line somewhere.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Game Development Blog #67

Game Development Blog #67

"Updatey Goodness is Finger Lickin' Good"

Well alright, it's been inside of a month since my last update, this is quick for me! It's 2am, I need to be awake in 4.5 hrs, but I have a bunch of energy so I might as well expend it productively. Here we go-

Things are alright, life is extraordinarily busy as of late, but when is it not. I have been hit by several waves on contract work the past several weeks; on the bad side, it's limited my productivity on my own projects by a significant margin, but on the good side it's enabled me to keep paying rent/buying food/etc. I won't lie, things are particularly tight right now (as much as they've ever been) but I am not in a panic or anything, and got enough income to keep things moving for the near term so I can't complain :) It's just exhausting is all, I'd really like to be able to focus (and do a good, sensible job) on what I'd prefer to do versus what I need to do, but I am really happy/appreciative to get any freelance work these days so I will never say that it is a bad thing!

As for the apps, they are coming along. I fully expected to be finished with both GunHead and Trapdoor by now, neither of which has happened, but they are both in good shape so I am happy about it. I'd prefer to have a draggy process, than run something out the door before its' time and potentially have it be a huge waste all around. This market is particularly unforgiving in such situations, you really need to put your best foot forward every time.

I think I've mentioned recently, we've got the control setup for GunHead working quite wel on iOS and for that I am particularly excited. There's some big hurdles to deal with yet (in that regard alone) as the game still is not presentable enough to demo; when I hand it off to someone with no instruction, they can't figure out how to play it (or muster enough patience to do so). This is not a difficult issue to address, but it is certainly a design challenge unique to this platform, it's bit me once and I won't let it happen again! I need to do a bit of catch up across the board with this app, but very soon (a couple of weeks?) I intend to tackle this issue and knock it out of the park. I am getting a shiver down the spine as I write this, kind of a deja vu "ohh I hope I didn't write these exact same words a month or so ago!" Meanwhile, many of the weapons are implemented now (one of the biggest challenges of a game like this) and they look and play great. Wrapping up a bunch of enemies/obstacles and then it's on to do level design!

I am a bit wary on releasing a 2D platformer to the market as it's starting to be "the new puzzler," but I feel our gimmick is strong enough to carry us. So long as it doesn't linger on too much longer - I'd like to meet the other end of the new month with a lot of these issues solved.

Trapdoor is sitting in stasis, nearly, which is a shame as the thing has been almost finished for some time now. I really feel like it's "a good project which could be really good" and so I am grinding my brain on how to wrap this sucker up. Feature creep is never something you want to do, so I am trying to carefully pick and choose what else to do to get it to the endgame. A significant amount of UI work needs to happen, plus a polish phase - and I am still a bit up in the air about monetization/IAP stuff. I feel that it is a necessity, especially with a game like that, to see some potential for decent return, but really I don't wanna get locked down into putting much more work into the game. I have a burst of energy for GunHead so I've spent a couple of days pouring work into that, but I want to bounce back to Trapdoor and get it to a good spot as well and hopefully just get it solid,nice and quick and clean-like.

What else to say - just really tired, really haggard, but my work drives me and I feel proud of what I am working on, it all feels worthwhile. I am still getting new "killer app" ideas here and there and some stuff that is really exciting to me which I'd like to move forward with as well. One thing at a time.. PAX is coming up in a month, I was hoping to have both titles launched by then but I'll be happy if TD is out and GH is demo-able. Unfortunately my panel proposal got rejected, which is a disappointment, but going to the show can still be useful for me, good opportunity to schmooze and show off my games and socialize. I have a lot of work to do in the short time between now and then!

And with that, I'm off to get some sleep..