Saturday, August 27, 2011

Game Development Blog #58

Game Development Blog #59


Just a quickie update tonight, since it's been a bit since I've put anything in here.

1st and foremost, we launched the 180 Player's Guide (LINK) at the beginning of the past week. A lot of hard work went into putting this together, and the goal is to help show some of the more casual players the route they can take to get more depth out of their experience with 180. The guide is still considered a work-in-progress, and more tips and strategies will pop up in the near future now that the framework is laid out. So, be sure and check back often to see what else shows up! Be sure to send in your own favorite techniques if you would like to see them appear in the guide.

We had a promotion on the Nook this past week as well, they gave us a mention on Facebook and in their blog, which we appreciate. It's been a very happy surprise to see that our game is doing fairly well in that market, and the sales have been quite strong relative to other markets. I am hopeful that the momentum will keep up! Other developers should certainly consider publishing on the Nook market as well - it's still early and young, and there's a lot of room to shine!

Work continues on our new game GunHead as well. It's very slow and sluggish, but it's progressing. We are considering putting together a fancy-pants trailer to help get some eyeballs on this game; also in the early stages, but the potential is very cool and I am very hopeful that we can just knock it right out of the park with this one. I am working very hard to make it happen!

Not much else to report on at the moment - it's been a very exhausting time lately, and quite a bit stressful as well. Looking forward to smoother and more easygoing days in the future, but for now it's just hunkering down and doing the best I can! Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Game Development Blog #57

Game Development Blog #57


Strap in once again for another development update! And kiss this huge banner goodbye because it needs to be replaced with a much smaller one.. soon.

180 - "yes I am still talking about this!" Cannot believe we are knocking on the door of 2 years since I first started working on this little game. And now here it is, "all grown up!" Anyway, here's the story on 180 - we've launched about a week and a half ago on the Nook App Store, by Barnes & Noble. If you are an Android developer and you don't know what the Nook is, you are doing yourself a disservice and would do well to quickly educate yourself. I'll say this much - the money I am making from Nook Store sales are really trouncing the sales I've had for this app anywhere else, regardless of platform. I look forward to putting more apps out for their device in the future, it just makes sense!

I am working hard on a "Tips 'n Tricks" strategy guide for 180 which will be available on our in-game store. It's a free guide, just click over to "More Apps" to access it when it goes up - hopefully later this week (there's a lot of work left to do with it!) Also to note, some serious progress has been made with our Casual Mode (probably going to be called Strategy Mode). I can't say when that will release, hopefully the wait won't be much longer. We want to test it enough and make sure it's proper fun!

Otherwise, we do have some other big plans for 180, some things which have been bubbling over in the background for a long time now. I'll keep mum until it is appropriate to say, but I will say that there's a few things and they are quiet big (and good reason to be excited about). I'll also say that it's stuff I and my team have been laboring long hours over, and it's come at the cost of other developments, when you are a tiny outfit you can only produce so much! So in that regard, thanks to our fans for sticking it out and keeping the torch burning!

GunHead - things are picking up speed with this title, which is really intended to be Headcase Games' big release of 2011. Sadly it is quite behind (as mentioned above) and I shoulder the blame for that, but I'd really rather take some time to get it right rather than just hustle it out. I am getting quite excited as the big, important pieces are finally coming together (well, in a pre-production sense) but really I need to take some time and just immerse myself in the project, so it can be guided properly. Don't worry, it is in good hands :) Everyone I have discussed the project with is enthused, and if we nail it, this could be "one of those games" that people have been waiting to show up on the App Store. So keep your eyes peeled. --NOTICE-- I am seeking the aid of a (traditional) 2D animator for some promotional help with this project, you should contact me if you can help!

Other Projects - yes, as prophesized, things have slipped further into this "lumped-together" category for the time being, and while somewhat remorseful, it's for the greater good. Don't worry, Trapdoor and Hop Cop are still waiting to be given life, and it's not impossible that at least one will show up before 2012. I've another new game which has recently woven it's way into my head as well, and it's a lot closer to 180 conceptually (well.. no flipping!). I've really not got a good idea for a name yet so it's simply being referred to as "Advance" at the moment, although I think it's a horrible name! And here's a teaser for how the gameplay works - think if Luxor and Push Panic were to have a child (that probably counts as more than a small hint) Otherwise, there's still a few other things I am pursuing, I am trying to toe the line as best I can between finding exciting new projects to undertake versus biting off more than I can chew. That's one of the hardest parts of this job.

Bizdev - sigh. I am so busy with all the things mentioned above, and really business development needs to be brought to the fore for obvious reasons. I've officially reached the point where I need another one of me to keep up with everything; I've got dozens of unanswered emails, potential partnerships between distro and development which are covering up with cobwebs simply because I am too busy trying to devote the needed time to my highest-profile issues. In a way I suppose this is one of those "good problems to have," but it also adds up to a few missed opportunities. I really need to find "the thing" right now which is going to get on the fast track to getting everything in line, but the way this is all set up is that I am really a one-man band between design, asset-production, and management (thank God I don't code, and you'll never hear me say such a thing again!) So for those of you who read this and are wondering why you are still waiting to hear back from me, just sit tight, I am working on it!

What Else is Going On - And yes, all the while the game industry at large zigs and zags and poops all over the place. Not unusually, it's a very strange time for this crazy schizophrenic little industry, and what might have made sense some 6 months ago has little bearing on logic and reality Today. One such case is the blow-up over the Nintendo 3DS fiasco, what looked to be an exciting and promising new-generation portable is... still an exciting and promising new-generation portable, but not without a good few bullet holes lining the side of it's hull, what the heck happened Nintendo? This thing has turned into a mess and 2011 as a whole is becoming quite a stinker year for N to date. I do believe they will close out the year with a "decent"showing at the holiday, the new Mario games will help that along; but they shouldn't have to rely on such a predictable crutch for this thing. Nintendo 3DS titles should be flowing "somewhat" by now, there should be some excitement about what's coming up, new and different game experiences not quite like what we've seen before. 3D is an exciting enough tech that, even when somewhat half-realized as is the case with this device right here, at least a small handful of very enticing experiences should be available to play. I mean, they nailed it pretty rocksteady with the damned 8-bit Sega Master System 3D glasses back in the 1980s. That stuff still feels better than what we are dealing with now. Yes this is apples and oranges but really, it should not be. Anyway, this sudden price drop will tilt the scales in Nintendo's favor, but I can't say how significantly.

Meanwhile, it's a scary time for Sony (another tough battle for them) as their new device fees more potentially stillborn in light of these new developments. I still hold onto my word that this thing is going to tank and Sony is completely misreading the market. Only if they price it to go toe-to-toe with 3DS will it still have some real chance to survive in that increasingly crowded marketplace, but I think we can all safely bet that there is now way that thing will clock in anywhere near $200. Who is going to support this thing - awesome device technically with lots of potential, but really just buy a PS3. I'd say this thing had limited opportunity if there wasn't a smartphone market to compete with as well, but in light of that as well it just feels more troubled.

I'm hearing whispers that next iterations of the HD twin consoles will not likely rear their ugly heads prior to 2014. As more time passes, that does feel more feasible. I suspect Microsoft will once again beat everyone to the punch (Wii U doesn't count as this is not a contender for Next Gen, it's a stopgap) - I would not be overly surprised to see a new Xbox launch by Holiday 2013, but I am not thinking it is likely. Maybe the PS4 will launch the following season? It all feels like gazing into a crazy crystal ball. Current generation hardware just seems very capable enough for the time being, still (despite lots of lazy development and horrible, horrible climates surrounding so many bigger game studios nowadays). I think the next generation of consoles will have a very difficult birth.

Meanwhile over in mobile-game-land, things are happy and steady. The scene feels rich and steady, if extremely uninteresting overall. I am not sure what's got things so stagnant, maybe just as enthusiasm was growing in a big way the rug of novelty got pulled out from underneath. There's always a lot of "gee whiz" software popping up here, there and everywhere, and much of it is worthwhile and interesting, but so much of it consists of these half-baked, strictly bite-sized experiences. I rarely download new apps anymore, it feels like it's been my mindset for about a year-and-a-half now. Again, a lot of very capable, very clean product showing up out there, but it's all so boringly safe and uninteresting. The last thing that made me say "oh wow!" was that AR copter-controller hybrid thing. And what the heck happened to that, it was just an expensive toy anyway. Mobile gaming can (and should) succeed based on it's own merits, playing to it's advantage in a myriad of ways that it's competition can't. People still fight/hate the touchscreen interface, and dismiss "smaller game bursts" in lieu of "I need a whole huge campaign to be satisfied." It doesn't work, it bores me, it's been done to death 1000's of times by now. At the same time, my brain stem drips with "what can be done and no one seems to get" and this drives my own spark for development. Granted it's always way easier said then done, but I am doing my best to bring my game properly.

I guess that's it for now, I have a lot more to say but I need to get productive and tackle some actual work. Thanks for reading!