Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 13/11/17

I've had a really busy and exciting week. I did some work for a client remaking a flash game
as an HTML5 game. It went really well and has led to at least one more project and probably more afterwards. I'm still putting finishing touches to it and making sure everything is compatible with the client's site so I'll post more next week but obviously this is great news and I'm pretty chuffed right now.
Backseat coder

Paying work for a client clearly takes priority over my own games and even over my web developer course so those will have to take a bit of a back seat for the duration. I'm still hoping to spend a day at least on both these but we'll have to see.

Having been so busy, I've not been able to make any progress on the Zombie Cannon Attack! postmortem. I really would like to get it done though so I'll try and find time over the next few days. Progress on my next game project (a sci-fi shooter/crafter) was also limited, but I have now finished coding all the artisans and equipment. It's pretty rough still but I generally find that once the basic code is in place the hardest part is mostly over and I can then use a more focused approach to make continual incremental improvements.

So as I said, an exciting week and things are a little up in the air right now. When they settle down a bit I may need to reconsider the format of this blog but for now I'll see you next week as usual.

That's all for this week, thanks for reading. If you want to keep up to date you can also follow me on Twitter.
My latest game, Zombie Cannon Attack!, is available on all these platforms:
itch.io (desktop download)
Gamejolt (web & desktop)
Kongregate (web)
Give it a try and let me know what you think, feedback is always welcome.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 06/11/17

I spent a good chunk of last week trying to shake off a stomach bug, so only managed a pretty poor 20 hours work. After the solid 35 hours I put in the week before I'm a little disappointed, but these things can't be helped and I'm better now and raring to go.

Postmortem postponed
I've pretty much run out of things to say about this title screen, so I really do need to get that postmortem done!
Unfortunately that means I haven't had chance to get much work done on the Zombie Cannon Attack! postmortem I've been meaning to do for a few weeks now. It'll be a separate post to the weekly devblogs though so I can just post it as soon as it's finished.

That new game smell...

Work on my new project also suffered a little, but I did manage to tidy up the code a bit to cut down on some of the repetition and hopefully speed things up going forward. In terms of new features I managed to add another artisan (a heavy armourer) and the ability to sell weapons and armour. Although I'd planned to get the gear crafting part of the game coded first, I also spent some time working on the shoot 'em up section. It's still very basic so making a few improvements was a pretty easy win while I was still recovering. The crafting section is what's interesting to me at the moment, but it's obviously going to be the shooter section that will provide the gameplay screenshots and gifs to pull players in so I'll need to start fleshing it out more pretty soon. 

October Stats:

Twitter followers: 1730 (+81)
October blog views: 1178
Blog views/day: 38 (September was 35)
Hours worked: 130 (4.2 / day) (September was 3.4/day)

I'm pretty happy with how October went, with a bit of a push towards the end I just managed to hit my hours target. That's actually a new record for a calendar month, although I've beaten the hours per day in some of the shorter months. I'm hoping to at least match that this month despite not being off to a great start as you'll have read earlier.
Twitter followers continue to grow but at an ever decreasing rate, perhaps growth will pick up again when I have something to show from the new project but as things stand it's growing with very little effort on my part so I can't really complain.
This blog also grew again, it's a bit more modest this time than the 50% month on month growth in August and September but it's still really nice to see and to be honest that sort of level didn't really feel like it was sustainable forever.

That's all for this week, thanks for reading. If you want to keep up to date you can also follow me on Twitter.
My latest game, Zombie Cannon Attack!, is available on all these platforms:
itch.io (desktop download)
Gamejolt (web & desktop)
Kongregate (web)
Give it a try and let me know what you think, feedback is always welcome.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 30/10/17

Another week done, and another month nearly done too. I can't believe how fast this year has gone. I had a really busy week last week, in terms of hours worked it was one of the best of the year so far, and so I'm pretty close to making my hours target for the month despite having to take a few days off for various reasons.
That thinking feeling
It's the most zombieful time of the year!
As I said last week, the Zombie Cannon Attack! Halloween Horror update is out on several platforms (a full list is at the bottom of this post) and if you feel like getting in the Halloween spirit by sending a rampaging zombie horde up against a forest full of witches then you should definitely give the game a try.
In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, pumpkins don't make good barricades. I've tested it so you don't have to.
Now that I've taken it as far as I intend to, both in terms of platforms to release on and updates to the game itself, I'm planning to do a proper postmortem soon (hopefully next week), but I think now's as good a time as any to give a brief update on how things are going in a more general sense.

I started the year with the hope that I could make some sort of career out of making games, but also with an understanding that this was a long shot and pretty unlikely to happen. Indeed it's such a long shot that I can't honestly say I even considered it plan A. I've mainly been teaching myself to code with the intention of pursuing a career as a web developer, which is why I chose to make html5 games in javascript to maximise the crossover between gamedev and webdev. I had hoped that I could make enough money to supplement my savings while I continued learning, but it's been clear to me for months now that this is also pretty unlikely so lately I've been putting more time into web development and less into games.

I've learned a huge amount this year and really enjoyed doing it, I'm still making games (see below) but I've come to accept that it's part hobby, part means to an end (the end being learning programming) and shifted my focus accordingly. Still, if me from 5 years ago had been told I'd have learned to code and released a few games by now I know he/I'd have been pretty impressed.

Let's slice things up a little

As I said at the start of this post, it's been a busy week. Despite the slightly negative overview I've just written I'm pretty happy with how things are going in general and with the new game. I've now got a vertical slice of the game completed and things are starting to come together. Although it's all still very basic and filled with placeholder graphics, you can at least complete the games basic cycle.

As a player you can kill bad guys, collect resources, sell the resources to artisans (well one artisan at the moment). The artisan can then craft equipment (guns only at the moment) which you can then buy from them and equip on your character, then go back out hunting for more resources. Now that one artisan and one equipment slot is working it's just a matter of fairly repetitive copying, pasting and amending to get the others working. Once that's all done I can start focusing more on minor things like graphics and gameplay. Maybe I'll even have a few screenshots before too much longer.

That's all for this week, thanks for reading. If you want to keep up to date you can also follow me on Twitter.
My latest game, Zombie Cannon Attack!, is available on all these platforms:
itch.io (desktop download)
Gamejolt (web & desktop)
Kongregate (web)
Give it a try and let me know what you think, feedback is always welcome.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 23/10/17

I was away for a few days last week so I didn't manage to hit my hours target, but despite that I still got quite a lot done and cramming it all into a shorter working week made it feel pretty busy.

More versions than Blade Runner
If The Walking Dead had added witches, maybe I'd still be watching
Well maybe not more, and to be honest I can't be bothered to research and check, but last week I released a downloadable desktop version of Zombie Cannon Attack! on both itch.io and Gamejolt. I also released the demo web version on Gamejolt and updated the Kongregate version to include the new Halloween update that I'd released on Android a week ago. So that's still quite a lot of versions. I'm planning to give it a week or two then write a proper postmortem of the game, but at the moment I've no further plans to release on new platforms or add anything to the game.
If The Walking Dead had added pumpkins, maybe I'd er...
Out with the old, in with the pew

That means I'll be concentrating on my next project from now on. As I've mentioned before it's a sci-fi themed RPG shooter. I'm aiming to keep the shooter part pretty basic, ideally with simple left/right movement and one-button controls. The plan is to have enemies come at you thick and fast while you blast away gaining experience and materials and trying not to die for as long as possible. You'll then take the materials back to your outpost/colony and trade them to various artisans who'll craft better equipment to sell back to you. As you progress your colony will become stronger, as will you and your artisans, allowing you to fight ever tougher monsters. It's still early days but the core mechanics are all variations on things I've enjoyed in other games so it should hopefully mesh together quite well. More on this next week.

Thanks for reading. If you want to keep up to date you can also follow me on Twitter.
My latest game, Zombie Cannon Attack!, is available on all these platforms:
itch.io (desktop download)
Gamejolt (web & desktop)
Kongregate (web)
Give it a try and let me know what you think, feedback is always welcome.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 16/10/17

Last week was a bit of a mixed bag, my hours worked were a bit below target but it was a pretty busy week. I've completed the Halloween update for Zombie Cannon Attack! (see below) and just released it today on the Google Play store, I have a few tweaks to make to versions for other platforms so I'll get on with that this week.

Super Screamy Halloweeny!
Zombies and pumpkins and witches, oh my!
So what's in the Halloween update? Well, after the zombie hordes invaded the towns and cities, some of the inhabitants fled to the apparent safety of the nearby Spooky Forest. Unfortunately the zombies have found them, and it seems the forest wasn't quite as empty as it seemed...
I wonder if the soldier had time to regret his choice of a large pumpkin as cover
Yes, the Spooky Forest is full of Witches. Literally, full of them, in their hundreds - leaving their bubbling cauldrons and pumpkin heads lying around everywhere too. Not to mention the haunted houses, which almost outnumber the trees. To be honest it's difficult to understand how no-one happened to notice them before.

Luckily for the fleeing citizens however, instead of turning on the terrified refugees in an orgy of frog-metamorphosising destruction, the Witches are actually helping. Witches must really hate zombies, either that or the whole idea of evil witches is some sort of nefarious patriarchal myth.

"Beryl, have you seen my skull lying around?" "Have you checked the attic?" "What would it be doing up there?"
So, 'plot' aside, what you actually get is some nice new Halloween themed scenery and obstacles. I've also added a bit of animation to the new scenery and obstacles to spruce things up a bit. More importantly though, there's a new enemy to face. Witches fire an ice beam that hits multiple targets, making them dangerous enemies for even the largest horde. Worse still though, the ice beam both damages and slows your zombies. As Zombie Cannon Attack! is at heart a race against time to pass on the infection before your zombies decompose this makes the Witch a really tough enemy. I've spent most of the week tuning the difficulty, it's much tougher than the default level 'Starter Town', and maybe a little tougher than the unlockable 'Brainsville' level too, but that difficulty is balanced by the extra data you can collect to upgrade your ravenous undead minions.

In other news...

The new game is progressing slowly, mainly thanks to the time I've taken out recently to update Zombie Cannon Attack! I've done some work on coding the equipment system, and when that's finished I'll move on to crafting. At that point the core of the game will be ready and I can start fleshing out the shoot 'em up section.

My latest game, Zombie Cannon Attack!, is available for FREE on web and android. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 09/10/17

Last week was another productive week, in fact taken as a whole the last fortnight has been my best in terms of hours worked for over 6 months. Hopefully I can at least keep at this level for the rest of the year, although this week so far hasn't exactly gone according to plan (hence this blog post being a couple of days late).

If you go down to the woods today...
Cobwebs and pumpkins, either it's October or they really need to tidy up
I mentioned recently I'd started work on a Halloween update for Zombie Cannon Attack! I now have a workable Halloween level with a new enemy and new scenery. I need to do a bit more testing and balancing (at the moment it's pretty tough), then update the title screen and add some sound effects. If there's time I'd like to add a bit more but obviously the main thing is to get it out in time for the run up to Halloween so we'll have to see how it goes.
In a slight departure from traditional folklore, witches now shoot ice beams from their broomsticks
A short time ago in a blog post not very far away

My new sci-fi themed shooter/crafter hasn't seen much progress this week as I concentrated on updating Zombie Cannon Attack! I've mainly been planning the crafting system out on paper but I have a decent outline now and hopefully I can get some of it coded this week. There's not a lot to see at the moment and may not be for some time, my plan is to buy in the art assets which should speed up development but also means I'll be mostly working with basic placeholder art for a while yet.

My latest game, Zombie Cannon Attack!, is available for FREE on web and android. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 02/10/17

To say last week was a bit mixed would be a massive understatement. I had the very sad news that my Nannan passed away (that's Grandmother to non-Sheffielders), but then also a lovely day for my Nephew's 2nd birthday where my young son and nephews joined forces to basically beat the crap out of me. Somehow with all this going on I managed to put in my highest hours worked total for nearly 6 months.

Ch Ch Changes

Having said last week that I'd settled on my next project, I then had a complete change of heart and decided to shelve it. While idle/clicker games are currently all the rage, I'm personally pretty bored with the genre at the moment and unless or until that changes I don't think I could bring the enthusiasm to the project that it would need. As I've mentioned in previous posts, this is where being slow to prototype new games can be a problem. Thankfully though, I've already done a big chunk of the next prototype which is based on an idea I've been wanting to pursue for a while now. I'm a little wary about going into details too early again, but it's a simple shoot 'em up with a fairly complex crafting/trading/upgrading system behind it to sustain interest.

September Stats

September was a tough month for work, with plenty of ups and downs to distract me. My hours worked total was pretty poor, and would have been even worse without the late push. While it may be understandable I do need to do much better this month and I'm aiming to beat my previous record for hours worked which currently stands at 129.5 in a month.
Twitter follower growth (follow me here!) slowed quite a bit in September, I'm not following back as many people as I used to in an effort to keep my timeline readable and it does seem to have had an effect, however more than 100 new followers is still nice to see.
This blog had a great month though, August had already beaten the previous record by nearly 50% and once again views/day has jumped another 50% in September. A big thanks to everyone for reading. The idea behind the blog is to collect my ideas together and hold myself accountable, but since I started the blog in February readership has increased five-fold which is pretty satisfying.

Twitter Followers: 1649 (+110)
September blog views: 1051
Blog views/day: 35 (July was 23.6)
Hours worked: 103 (3.4/day) (August was 3.9/day)

My latest game, Zombie Cannon Attack!, is available for FREE on web and android. Give it a try and let me know what you think.