Monday, November 5, 2012

November 2012 - Dev Blog Update

November 2012 - Dev Blog Update
4am and I am having a hard time trying to motivate to go to bed. I am sleepy.. but I am also hungry. And I am also wanting to do some work. My concession is to make an entry into my oft-neglected blog, and then turn in for some slumber.

Can't believe it's November, 2012 whizzed by in a flash. The year sure didn't turn out the way I had hoped, although that's not to say it was a bad year. Just kind of draggy (in spite of the whizziness). Shocking to see I am getting onto year four of Headcase, although most probably wouldn't have any idea since things have been so quiet for so long. I imagine I've got lots of company (plenty of mothballed developers following that initial burst of interest in mobile and independent development0. It's reassuring, then, that I still have my developments going on, even if they are pretty far removed from the limelight, a TON of (good) WOrk has been done and I rest assured that things will release eventually. I feel like I am not in a hurry to get there anymore, "it's done when it's done"seems to be the best one can hope for.

Was hoping to wrap up Trapdoor by the year's end, and I told the coders I'd finish up all the assets for a long time now, of course lots of things keep coming up and my momentum for that game has just been killed for awhile. I refuse to let the year end without lifting a finger to wrap it up however, so I will get to it sooner or later but the clock is getting pretttty close. I need to just drink either a bunch of caffiene, or a ton of booze and "do the dishes" on that task so to speak.

GunHead, as many like to mention, is still asked-about and of course has been on ice for some time as well for various reasons. It's in good shape (PC version) but needs a ton of work to get closer to the finish line. I'd rather let it sit and stew while I take care of other projects/things in life, but there's plenty of other 2D shooters launching next year and I'd hate to follow even a single one of them. We've got a good chunk of material already accounted for which could make for a pretty decent kickstarter pitch, it feels like I might be kinda late to that party.. but I could sure use the money and motivation. It's a thought.

Blast Rover has been the big push between Pat and myself the past 2 months or so. I believe I've mentioned it recently, it's gone from a little "whatever" project to something that is shaping up really nicely. He's got a ton of the game code down and concentrating on level design, and it's actually quite an addictive little game which could potentially do well for us if the circumstances could work out. I need to concentrate on building some pretty sexy graphics for this thing, but even in the early phase it's components look pretty nice. This is Android-only for now, but I would love to get it on iOS down the road, I think we'd probably get some good coverage actually. We need iOS hardware (like.. we don't have ANY at the moment!) Not a Mac to code on, not an iPhone or iPod or iPad or what-have-you to test on. If anyone out there is reading this and would like to donate to the cause, drop me a line :) Anyway, hoping to launch BR by the year's end on the aforementioned Android platform, but like I said - year's getting on..!

* * *

Otherwise, not much else to report. I've taken up residency helping my buddies at UpUpStart developing their skateboarding mobile game, it's been pretty all-consuming and there's a lot for me to do yet, but it is coming along. It's nice to be doing some 3D as well! I'll likely be on the lookout for other gigs as well, as this wraps up. Gotta keep the lights on!

Anyway, that's the state of affairs for the moment. Gonna use the last of my energy to brush my teeth and get some shuteye, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 6, 2012



Cheers, and welcome once again to Masterpiece Theater, err, indie game development update journal. As one would notice, the format over here has really gone all to hell, but considering many folks just let their blogs completely wither and die into nothingness, I am just happy to periodically post updates time and again, format notwithstanding.

Things are alright over here, as usual it must be mentioned that things have taken on a dramatically different shift in 2012 with my career plans than they had for the years since HCG was launched; therefore, I don't talk so much about "all the games in development" and when to expect them quite so much anymore, although to be honest I am still quite busy on that end to some degree or other. It's just been shifted priority as I go about focusing on getting paid work first and foremost, and this will continue for the time being.

On the indie front, our side-scrolling shooter GunHead has been absolutely frozen in stasis for at least 6 weeks now. I can't recall the last I've written about it too sharply, although I'll say that the mobile versions are pretty far behind and the PC/XBLIG version has come a long ways. There's still much to be done in terms of design (and beyond that, testing) but a large amount of the assets are completed and a very solid codebase for the mechanics as well. Likewise, much of the boss behaviors are implemented to an advanced degree, so there's actually a lot to work with here. I expect 100% this game won't be completed before 2013, but I am still happy to take my time with it and deliver it the right way.

Trapdoor has also been in stasis - seriously - and it is with a degree of shame that I realize that it's been over a year since I've worked earnestly on "this little game!" I see a small window of time to wrap-up the assets in my near future however, so I am eager to pounce on that and put this one to bed. I feel like it's bad juju to keep talking about it in these terms though (how many times have I blogged the exact same thing about this game?) so I will just leave it at that for now..

180 - I've actually had reason to consider dragging this game up from the grave! That is, to build a "sequel" of sorts, and Pat and I have been talking seriously about it recently. It makes sense because - A. Assets are already done, B. a strategy mode has already been prototyped, and C. we have a built-in audience already (probably about 6k+ daily players) to advertise to. If we are going to build a full-on sequel, I might consider to revisit some of the other ideas I had for the game a long time ago (tablet mode, multiplayer) which would be pretty awesome. As of now, this is going to be an Android-only affair, although depending on how things play out we might look at iOS next year. Right now I am trying to keep "new game ideas" far away from y overflowing plate as much as possible.

Blast Rover - Pat's pretty eager to get a game out and I don't blame him. He took a list of my "rough game proposals" and we've decided to proceed with a Moon Patrol-esque game. Trying to keep it pretty light and dirty, although already the visuals are looking pretty nice and much of the codebase is implemented. I am taking the backseat on this one and just providing A/V support for the most part. For that matter, a bunch o the audio has been worked on already and sounds really sharp. I am psyched to put out little games like this!


I've been quite busy with my freelance work. I had about one week in between projects (did my best to get some work done to get Blast Rover moving) and then it was on to work on another paid gig, and that has really been ruling my life for the past few weeks. I am not sure when it will wrap, I hope not for awhile ($ is really tight) but that stuff is shaping up and I am hoping to cruise through the rest of the year with it if I am lucky.  Otherwise, I'll take turns wrapping up existing HCG stuff and pounding on my portfolio in equal measure. There's a huge amount of unfinished business I need to take care of, and it's hard to know what will be next for me until I can clear a lot of it up. Most of that work is stuff I really enjoy doing, and should only make everything in my life much easier as I get through it, so I am not complaining!

Other than all of that - personally, it's a very challenging time for me right now. 2012 has actually been a tough year on my mental state for a lot of reasons. Operating this way really takes a lot out of a person, and affects everything and everyone around them. I don't have any regrets for what I've attempted and the price I've had to pay to get there, but I can honestly say that doing this stuff for a living, and trying to do it in a capacity where one can make a living at it, live in a place like Hollywood, try to maintain a semblance of a "normal life" and do it all on one's own terms, it's really the stuff that shows you what you are made of. It takes a long time, it tries your patience (and pretty much everyone around you) and it can really go to some dark places. After some point, you like at the path behind you and try to figure out "just how did I wind up here, exactly?" and all you can do is keep going, and keep trying. Al that being said, I don't doubt my abilities as an artist, designer, businessman.. or friend, boyfriend, etc. Like I said, it shows you what you are made of..

Lots more to discuss (I have much to say on the gaming scene, etc) but I guess I will save that for another entry, another time..

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Aug 2012 - dev update!

Development Update!

What's it been? A few weeks I guess right? Well it feels like it has been awhile. Here is the latest..

In the interest of being a little more human-being-relate-able, I am going to try to keep this a little less biz-heavy. So let's see how that goes.. anyway it's midnight and I am extremely exhausted after another long long day. I recently accepted a job at Fuse FX in Burbank, click on the link if you are interested to see details. The do VFX for lots of big clients, I am sure you've seen some of their shows. I like the gig a lot and am working hard in hopes of getting more employment, we'll see how it goes. I really enjoy the work quite a bit as well, my goal is to have a day job doing stuff like that and keep doing independent development in the off-hours.

The job is not exactly walking distance, but it would cost $1500 to repair my car vs. $150 to repair my bike so you can imagine which choice I decided to make. I never was a terribly avid cyclist, but I always enjoyed it and as a guy who typically walks all over town it's nice to have a little speed on that :) Also taking the metro (subway) is pretty convenient to where I live, so between the two I am satisfied. Good to get some routine exercise as well, of course!

After several years, I finally joined the "I lost my iPhone" club, and I am more than a little ashamed to admit it. I went out to the bar on Friday night after a stressful week, and 5 minutes out of the cab (beginning of the night) I realized it was gone. It's a bummer - I need to get a new device but can't say for sure when it will happen, the real tragedy of course is that it is also my development hardware :( Send donations for new hardware to, uhhhh, never mind. Anyway my ladyfriend got a new Android phone recently so I've adoped her old Samsung Epic in the meantime. I am going to try the "100% free phone route" for a while and see how it goes, that means no plan at all and just use WiFi w/ Google Voice (free phone number/text msgs). If you intend to do the same, make sure you get the GrooveIP app as well to actually make phone calls. It's fairly easy to setup. I figure I have WiFi at home and at work, and it's in a few of the bars I go to in town as well - make sense then. If I get fed up I can always hop on another plan, I'll certainly report how it winds up.

Game development (yes, in the "Game Development" blog, for real!) Slow as hell, one can imagine, although it is still moving. Main focus of late has been GunHead, PC/Xbox version, I am sure I mentioned recently that there's a video of the E3 build on the YouTube page, be sure to check it out if you haven't. A ton of work has gone into the game since those days, it's actually gettting along quite well and I am laying out levels now (at last!) which is quite fun. It looks and feels excellent, exactly the type of game I would have loved as a 12-yr-old and can still get a pretty huge charge out of now. The deeper into development it gets, the more excited I am to get it released!

Android and iOS development of the game are pretty slow. There's absolutely no way either of those versions will release in 2012 I expect, in some ways I feel like I just want to abandon them and concentrate 100% on the PC build. That won't happen, but it feels comforting to think of emptying my plate a little!

Android programmer emailed me the other day to say "Let's release Trapdoor already" and I feel bad for letting it simmer for so long. I pulled the build out tonight and played it on the subway for 20 minutes easy, didn't even notice the time pass. It looked pretty nice on the Epic as well. The game needs some finesse still, but honestly could release it tomorrow and it would still be a good product! It sucks being so strapped for time, but I am going to use this as impetus to get the damned thing out the door already, I mean I could really - really - use the money as well. I should just give myself a deadline and wrap it up already..

My friends at UpUpStart launched a Kickstarter campaign for their Epic Skater mobile game. It looks excellent - have a look!

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Update Number A

Hello out there in Sexy Videogameland!

It's been a long time since I have posted in here. How far I have fallen from the period I used to dedicate daily updates of some manner or other (to be fair, they were usually retro-reviews). Google says I am still getting lots of pageviews however (for that mentioned reason?) although to be honest I don't know how those things work. Spiders, bots? Beats me, anyway it's given me impetus to put out alittle update.

Here's the deal - things are still going onward & upward, Headcase Games is busy as ever as far as development is concerned. The really big change, which should come as a surprise to nobody, is that I have completely shored up any and all activities related to growing (or even maintaining) the brand for any activities not immediately & directly related to development. I'll always argue that all of the peripheral stuff is extremely necessary, but honestly I am just too small and too busy to even try to keep up with any of that anymore. It's a shame, because it's one of the parts of the job that I really enjoy, but to be honest it just doesn't really "do"anything to help move things forward (I'll never really get substantial sales or support for it) and for the most part, people just do not care about that personal touch. I don't mean to make that sound in a butthurt fashion, I am just a realist and either one has a vibrant and active scene flourishing around them, or it's a very quiet place. The bigger point is, I can't really expect any kind of an active atmosphere if I am still leaning on games released years ago at this point.

With that all said, I've been extremely busy pushing forward with my developments. There's been a lot of the expected drama as can go on in such a situation, but overall I have a lot of great, steady progress to show for the efforts of our teams.  This, more than anything, is extremely gratifying and really drives me to keep moving forward. I can't wait to get to the point, yet again, where release is imminent and we can finally unleash this stuff out into the world. It's slow, but it is coming, and everything looks great.

GunHead on PC is the star of the show right now.  This came from behind to really be the big cheese, this is how things go sometimes! We'll very likely release to Xbox Live Indie Games or Arcade as well, depending on what happens. Wherever it can get the most bang! Anyway it's a blast putting this game together, we are deep into boss design and implementation. There's some really special and crazy stuff packed into this game. Android and iOS development are coming along as well - slow but steady. It's interesting to see how things have branched, PC is looking like it will be more for "core"gamers while the mobile versions will certainly be more casual focused. That doesn't mean it's going to be soft, don't worry!

Trapdoor is still on the way for mobile devices as well. I've said it before, it's pretty much my fault that the game hasn't released for months now. It's super fun, it looks great, and its a no-brainer for release on the platform. Sadly it's just taken a back seat to other things in my life, and I never want to rush something through development "just to get it out there." But at this point, I am a little frustrated to realize that there is money waiting on the table and I simply need to roll up my sleeves and get it wrapped. I still can't say with assurance when it will happen (there's a few hoops to jump through) but I'd like to see it at least on the far end of development by one month from now. We'll see what happens.

Hop Cop is on ice, sadly. This would have been a fun little game, but bureaucracy seems to have claimed a victim in this game. Disappointing as some work had been done on it, and I think it would be a great little title  to bring to market. It's certainly not dead, but it won't be mentioned anymore for awhile.

Skater (tentative title) is the newcomer to the fold. There's lots I'd like to talk about this one, as it's just very early into development I'll keep a tight lip for now. The name probably gives a very good clue as to the theme however! Like any app, there's a very interesting backstory to this game's development and I am very eager to get moving with it. It's purposefully being designed as "small and simple" since those games tend to be easy pickins' on the app store. Watch and see.

What else is going on - I am actually working very hard on my portfolio right now. In spite of how things are going with development, it's taken way too long to get to release/things are very backed up and so I am trying to seek a steady day job.This is of course counter to "the true indie spirit" but I think "true indies"must not mind living in a cardboard box or something then, because the majority of us have a hard time making a stable living! This isn't a bad thing, I really enjoy what I do (day job). The bummer is that it's very obviously impacted the amount of day-to-day development work I can do, and believe me there is a tonnnnn of things demanding my attention to get that list of things above to a completed state. If I found myself suddenly with a wallet full of $10 grand or so, personally, I could very likely justify shelving everything else and just concentrating on speeding all of my current apps toward release. That'd be a super nice thing. I am not going to hold my breath on a mysterious benefactor, and I think I am probably too busy to start with the time and energy for a Kickstarter campaign, so I must concentrate on what I can do and seek a job. Doing so requires a tremendous amount of work and.. well, there's only so many hours in the day! Anyway, I am doing a hefty amount of render testing this evening, so it gives me a good excuse to get a bit of blogging in.

That's about it for now - I have a lot more to say, but long posts = annoyed readers, I have found, so I am going to head back into the darkness for a little while. I'll make a deal with you however - give me some comments below and I will be more prolific with these posts once again. I have no problem writing in here, I quite enjoy it for my own satisfaction at least - but I do sorta consider it a bit of a time-sink if it's just for my own edification. If I can get upwards of at least 10 (non-spammy) unique comments here (or retweets, likes, etc) than it is very likely I will be much more frequent to post updates. And the quality will improve to saucier stuff (screens, vids, etc). If not, then that's cool too :) Thanks for reading-

Friday, April 13, 2012

Game Development Blog #69

Game Development Blog #69

"Sixty-niiiiine, dude!"

Sorry... sorry. You do realize that I am from the Bill & Ted's generation, right?

So, I want to change up the format of my blog a little (well, always). I am going to talk a little less Headcase-centric and talk more about the industry, at times. SO THEN:

PAX EAST 2012: I returned from my Boston trip a few days ago. Working up to PAX was harrowing, as usual - I was scrambling at the last minute to get my new GunHead flyers designed & printed, and a general website update in place (minor, but necessary). All told, both things got done satisfactorily. Two things which didn't happen at PAX - game(s) launching (not a shock) and panel speaking (rejected!) Ah well, there's always Seattle! Anyway, the show was kind of a wash really. PAX for most is all about fun-fun-FUN times really, I mean it is a fan-centric show. For me it's just a lot of headache, and a very strange "out of place" feeling which I can't quite put my finger on anymore. I am no longer a "studio guy" so my name really holds no cache with Joe Schmoe - as an independent developer, I am a designer/artist/producer/everything but coder, but for lots of reasons that labels me as "not really a developer" for many reasons (some, including myself, will argue with such an assertion!) And I am certainly not a what one would consider a hardcore gamer anymore, at least not by current standards. All of this adds up to feeling a bit out of place in a convention like PAX. In spite of that, it was good to catch up with some friends and meet some new ones, and also get to talk with some press folks (that's always very cool!) Sadly I didn't get to connect with any other developers, but that's on me really.

GAMES: Well, GunHead continues it's slow lumbering journey through development. I recently mapped out a pretty good development plan to see it through to advanced stages, just waiting for the momentum to get back. As for Trapdoor, I am polishing up the shell right now and wracking my brain to think of a good way to present the tutorial. The game is quite fun and presents well, I just need to wrap up already. iOS build is getting really good traction and that's got my spirits up. Hop Cop is in production at last, although this is really going to be an unusual case for me (more so) than the others so I am not quite sure how to chart it's development properly yet. I feel like I may have kinda "thrown that one to the wolves," but we will see what happens. A couple of other ideas have been living in my brain lately, but this is plenty to deal with for now.

WHAT AM I PLAYING: Yup, actually playing a couple of games lately! Actually, other than my usual go-to (Drop7, of course) I have found my way back to Advance Wars 2 for Game Boy Advance. I loved part I back in the day, it really was my favorite game of the moment when I first got my hands on it. Years passed and I never picked up another, then finally picked up AW2
on eBay and quickly shuffled it into a drawer for.. years. Anyway, needed something to play on my Boston flight and this game has sucked me in all over again, brilliant. I'd recently started on Dual Strike, but gonna let that one sit for awhile I think while I work through this game 1st (yep, here we go again)

WHAT ELSE: I am broke, and stressed, and depressed, so I am actually looking for a fulltime job right now. Headcase is still going strong (and I am still producing), but I need a way to make money and pay rent and all of that stuff. My game is still selling, but nowhere enough to help make ends meet and it's still long enough out before my next big production launches. I was thinking of putting a Tip Jar on this blog but it seems like a waste (not enough views, no one generally tips anyway) but make some noise if you'd actually donate and I will rectify that :) Note that I had one in the Headcase Store for a very long time and not a single donation (I am not complaining, just stating). I do honestly believe that I can make good money with GunHead however, just got to get that game wrapped up 1st ;)

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..

Friday, February 10, 2012

Game Development Blog #66

Game Development Blog #66

"Have I Made It Clear That I Detest Coming Up With Blog Titles Yet?"

Hello, heavens to murgatroyd, and all of that good stuff. It's time for another fancy-pants blog update to see about the highs and lows of independent game development, so without any further adieu let's peel this onion open once again, shall we?

Development on all fronts continues along steadily, or as best as can be expected. I officially have too much on my plate (and then some) right now, and it's certainly affecting progress on everything. I am always saying "I don't wanna be the bottleneck of the development process," but, ta-da! Anyway, everything I do, I do for good reason. I'd prefer to have a little bit "bursting at the seams" going on, than "cricket-chirps" if you know what I am saying. On that note:

GunHead - coming rocksteady, overall. If you've not seen it, there's a video capture of the latest build running on Xbox showing on our YouTube page. It's quite early, but should give you a crystal-clear idea of what to expect from this title. I am quite satisfied to say that we've overcome some huge "will this even work?" philosophical quandaries in regards to how this will perform on a touchscreen - the answer is, and not any kind of hyperbole here, spectacularly. We've got it feeling very wonderfully on the current iOS build and I could not be happier, because we are doing something fresh and unique with our control setup and not only does it work, it feels great. I know all devs say this these days as a big selling point "our controls are flawless" on their touchscreen platform games with a virtual D-pad. You are all liars! I have seen some which are alriiiiight, but nothing which has made me feel it's an acceptable replacement for buttons. We've definitely nailed it with GunHead, to this current point.

The downside? In it's (still early) state, I can not yet give the game to a random joe-schmoe and have them intuitively grok they control layout. It's not particularly complicated (this is the point!) but it's also not not something which is immediate in its self-explanation. Research has shown that this is a tough hurdle in mobile development, so we will need to work quite hard to craft a compelling "teach you how to use the controls" experience. Fine. I can do that :)

Trapdoor - likewise, YouTube buddies, there's a very recent build up for viewing on our channel, so have at it if you so desire (and why not?) I'll be honest, watching gameplay video of this particular game may not be exactly heart-stopping, but even in it's current unpolished state the game is already extremely fun; I've been showing it off a bit and more than a few people have told me "I like this better than anything else you have done before." That's at once encouraging and disheartening, as Trapdoor was designed to be a realllly simmmmple game, but then I suppose that is sensible considering the platform these apps are designed for! Anyway, we've been in the home stretch with the Android build for awhile, but I have been slowed down on my work with that as I've been rapidly working to get the iOS port off the ground, it's literally gone from nothingness to actual measurable progress in a very short time (not playable yet!) and, let me tell you, there's worlds of difference between iOS and Android, such as screen real-estate - and so I have been trying to reasonably uprezz all the assets, and still nailing down the design in the meantime. Almost there!

Hop Cop - coming, I finished my docs for this about a week ago, and I was supposed to meet with the staff to get moving on it in the past couple of days, but.. too busy! So hopefully we can get it into actual production next week.

That's about it for production notes. I've always got "180 maintenance stuff" that pops up fairly regularly, and it's a good thing (making money!) but does really make me desire to enlist an intern (hint, hint) to help keep tabs on everything and deal with it a little more smoothly. Also I discussed "Tic Tac Jack" with Ben the other day, and we are hoping to attack that thing in short order near the end of the month maybe. We'll see.

Otherwise... lots on my mind. My birthday was a week ago and my girlfriend was kind enough to get me a Nintendo 3DS, which is actually very very neat :) It's a very slick toy, I'll say that, and something I've been interested in since pre-launch. Now that there's a few solid games out for the thing, I am feeling justified in wanting one! Currently enjoying Mutant Mudds (my favorite!), Mario 3D Land (it's cool, esp if you love 3D Marios - I still prefer the old 2D games though!) and a couple of 3D Classics as well. These are AWESOME, please make more of these. My dream list which will never happen? Mega Man 2, Castlevania, Life Force, Commando (or something along those lines), 1943 would be awesome as well... Double Dragon! Damn now I am sad I started thinking about this stuff.

I never had a DS before, so feel free to send me some suggestions of games to pick up. I grabbed Advance Wars DS which I love already, Days of Ruin and Contra 4 are in the mail.. and back to 3D I won a bid for Starfox 64 and am in pursuit of Shinobi 3DS as well.

PS Vita launches inside of a couple of weeks I believe, I am completely disinterested, there's things I can say about it (both positive and negative) but this post is getting pretty overlong so I think I will sit on it for now. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Game Development Blog #65

Game Development Blog #65

"Fancy Blog Title"

What's up there, Planet Earth. Good to see you all once again. Been about a month, so I suppose it is time to settle in for a couple few and do the ol' update routine. Here goes.

Things are alright. Quite busy over here, as they usually seem to be. I am finding myself without too much free time these days, and though it is ultimately a good thing (it means that I am being productive) that also will allude to a certain level of burnout. I really, really need a break from things soon, because I am having some days here and there where it is just getting quite hard to turn out useful work, and to find the raw enthusiasm to throw myself into it. Just the same, my main projects are shaping up fairly nicely, and that's quite a big motivation if anything (momentum often is!) so it's keeping my sails winded, or however you'd say. On that note:

Trapdoor is finally nearing it's end stage of development for Android, a lot of work has gone into this little project in the past couple of weeks and it's gone from a rough little toy to feeling like a pretty fun game, to be honest! When I have something that's at the point where I can play a full session, GAME OVER, and then instantly restart to try again.. and again.. and again, that's a very good sign (and an excellent feeling as a developer/producer). For me, it's the sign that the soul is intact there, and it becomes much easier to envision the other little elements which must be put in place to enhance the existing game experience, less of a case of "hmm, guess we will tinker with X Y and Z to try and see what happens." Honestly, this game just needs a nice shiny coat of UI and it's ready to call it a day, and I am happy to unleash it. Those interested to see a WIP of what I am talking about can find a preview posted on our YouTube page - it's still fairly rough, but you should be able to get the gist.

I am looking to produce an iOS port of Trapdoor as well. If anyone out there can help, please drop me a line! If you want to straight-out charge me for the work, we can talk - but if you'd be interested to profit share, that would make my life entirely so much easier for the time being!

GunHead - The beast continues development! It's been sidelined a bit as TD has taken the fore, but I have still been actively involved in pushing for this game. At the beginning of the month I started on a mad tear to try and burn through asset production; they are coming along very well, but I am far short of reaching my "art complete by Feb 01 2012" goal. Steady as she goes! Meanwhile, the gameplay is still finding it's footing as we wrestle to properly configure the control layout, great strides have been made in the mobile game in the past few weeks and it's required some heavy re-planning on how certain important fundamental elements will work. We're almost through this phase, but not out of the woods yet. My whole purpose of developing this game is that it must play absolutely perfectly on the touchscreen, which is contrary to the case of any other platformer I've seen on the device thus far (insert my usual rant about lazy, crummy virtual D-pads as a weak accepted norm here). I am very anxious to get through this part and onto the next phase, where we can start laying down the actual level structure (this is obviously dependent on the final control setup to be in place, before we can proceed!) and then there's a whole 'nother chunk of development to battle through!

I'll take this aside to mention that I've been really enjoying having a jailbroken device for the course of this iOS development; waiting on builds from the programer, going through provisioning profiles, getting stuff signed, etc - you can easily skip all of that when you have a JB. My coder can just through the latest raw build up on the DropBox, and I can suck it off of there and install straight to my phone, without ever involving the use of a PC! I just figured out how to do that last week, it's wonderful! Android had spoiled me with that and now I have that ease of deployment on iOS as well. For those interested, you need to use iFile (the Cydia app, not the "App Store" one) to synced to your DB account, then (also in iFile) drop the .IPA where Installous can see it - then install from the latter, and that is it. Marvelous.

Hop Cop - I think I have mentioned this game on my blog a time or 2 in the past. It looks like development of this title is shortly to get underway as well, this will be a vastly different endeavor than my usual method of doing things (do I have a usual method of doing things, actually?) - to the point where it's very likely not going to be a Headcase Games release, but a different label for various reason. Don't worry, still me, still my game! In an insane turn of events, this game might make it to market faster than anything else currently in development right now, but as usual, we shall see. Stay tuned.

Other news: Gearing up to go to PAX in Boston this April, which will be an important time for me as I'll have much to promote (and hoping to have it all launched by then!) I am going through the process of trying to secure a speaking panel for myself and some others at the show, hopefully that will work out (I need that kind of exposure). Lots of talking in the background about plenty of other things, a bit of freelance work to pay the bills in the meantime, and really - just trying to keep my S together. There's plenty more to say about all of this and more, but I think I have said enough for now, and so I leave you. Thanks for reading.