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:
Android
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:
Android
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:
Android
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:
Android
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.


Monday, 25 September 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 25/09/17

Not too much to report this week, I pretty much took half last week off for various family things. I've made a little progress with my next game, which I'll go into shortly, but got no further with the desktop version of Zombie Cannon Attack!

Trick or treat?

As well as working on a paid desktop download of Zombie Cannon Attack! I'm also considering a Halloween update. The theme would fit in nicely and I've already designed an extra NPC, designing a new themed background and obstacles shouldn't be too much trouble and there's a good chance I'll reuse any assets I make (more on that later). For now you can still try the non-Halloween version for free, there's a demo web version with a good few hours play on Kongregate, or you can download the full game on Android (also FREE!) which has plenty of extras and bonuses.
Zombie Witch concept art, (maybe) coming soon
Spam clicks make the world go round

My next project, provisionally titled Zombie Clicker Attack!, is an incremental clicker with a similar theme to my last game. In fact, as the title implies, it's a very similar theme which will allow me to reuse many of the assets. Hopefully this should greatly speed up development time.

Although the plot will be basically the same (help a mad scientist take over the world with zombies), obviously the game play is quite a departure from a hybrid launch game/endless runner. The aim will be to raise a vast horde of various zombie types and conquer a series of increasingly well-defended territories, using the data you gather to upgrade your zombies along the way, but you'll be doing this while under constant attack from your potential victims.
I'm hoping to add a small action section to make the invasions more than just clicking a button, but it's still early days yet so we'll see. I've almost finished the first 10-15 minutes of gameplay, this comprises the first territory to conquer and will be a good vertical slice of the game for testing. Once I'm happy with that the rest of the process will be gradually introducing features to flesh out that core concept. As ever, more on this next week.
A very early prototype shot, as you may have noticed from the lack of a map on the map tab

Monday, 18 September 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 18/09/17

A difficult week, all in all. If you read last week's post (which thanks to a fluke retweet explosion is now my second most viewed post of all time) then you'll know most of the bad stuff as it was actually written midweek and things got a lot better afterwards. However I don't really feel like I've got much in the way of progress to share this week so I'll keep it short.

Desktop Stop Shock

I've hit a bit of a wall in producing a desktop version of Zombie Cannon Attack! The method I was using creates an .appxbundle file instead of an .exe file. While it works fine on my PC, from what I can tell it's only really good for the Windows Store, which means incurring extra costs that I can't really justify as it seems unlikely I could recoup them. I'm now looking into a different method, hopefully more on that next week.
Zombie Cannon Attack! desktop version, two weeks away for the last three weeks
Big in Iraq

I experimented with using Google Play Store promotion codes (giving free in-app purchases) for the Android version of Zombie Cannon Attack! (coinciding with the release of v1.2, get it now! etc) and the results were interesting. It's easily been my best week for downloads so far but they've mostly been from the Middle East as opposed to the previous norm of the EU/US regions. The new players have so far generated very little revenue though, and given how slowly downloads have been going since launch it didn't really take much to beat the previous weeks' efforts.
On a more positive note the average rating is now up to 4.8, which is nice, but I'd certainly trade the .8 for a few more downloads. (Hint, hint 😆)

Core blimey, it's working!

I've continued work on the prototype for my next game. It's starting to take shape and I'm fairly happy with it so far, even if most of the game still only exists in my head. I coded a couple of functions that are pretty central to how the game will play and I can see it starting to evolve. I'm now leaning towards thinking it will work and hopefully I can move ahead with it more quickly now I've got the core of it done. Again, more next week.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 11/09/17

Apologies for the delayed blog this week, I've had a rough few days of crappy sleep and lots of things have had to be put off. It's a measure of how badly I'd been sleeping that what would usually count as a below average night's sleep last night has actually left me feeling refreshed and raring to go. Hopefully that can last.

Sounds like a problem

As well as getting the latest Android version of Zombie Cannon Attack! finished, I split my time last week between working on a prototype for my next game and getting a Windows version of Zombie Cannon Attack! ready for release. I'd had a lot of problems with the Windows version, which turned out to be mostly caused by the version of Windows I was targeting.

A Windows 10 build is not compatible with anything lower so I'd targeted Windows 8.1 instead. As my games are browser based, the non-web versions run on a webview (essentially this packages the game in a stripped down browser window). The Windows 8.1 webview is based on Internet Explorer which turned out to be the root of my problems, as IE doesn't support web audio (as well as being rubbish in many, many other ways). The Windows 10 webview is based on Edge which runs everything just fine. I'm limiting my potential audience by doing this, but the audio of Zombie Cannon Attack! is pretty essential to it's humour and the workarounds I had to put in place for the 8.1 version compromised the sound effects to a level I just couldn't accept.

Once I'd got the game running I spent a little time adding extra keyboard controls and adding a fullscreen option that I'm pretty pleased with. Everything seems fine after testing and I'm ready to try and turn what I've got into something players can actually download and install.
Those zombies are trying to eat him, they're not his backing singers. Just in case there's any confusion.

That 'difficult' third game

As I mentioned, I also started prototyping my next game. At the moment I'm going for an idle/clicker type game based on broadly the same theme as Zombie Cannon Attack!, with a working title of Zombie Clicker Attack! I've seen plenty of other gamedevs talk about knocking together a prototype in a few hours, but unfortunately that's not how I work so it's taking a little longer and I'm still not convinced I have something that will work. The obvious danger with this is that I end up spending so much time on the game that I follow through with an idea I'm not happy with so the time I've spent isn't wasted. Knowing when to fold 'em is something I've never been great at and I'll need to work on that a bit more. You can rest assured I'll be posting more on this as I make progress.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 04/09/17

Another busy week, I spent most of it bashing my head against the brick wall that is developing for Windows using Cordova. To be fair it's not a very strong brick wall as I've so far solved every problem I've encountered, but not without a lot of swearing at my computer. Apart from an annoying issue that stops me changing the volume of sound effects I have what appears to be a fully working Windows version of Zombie Cannon Attack!, or at least a version that works on my local machine. I've a fair bit more work to do before I'm ready to release it though.

Zombie Cannon Attack!, now with added buttons!

As well as the technical behind the scenes stuff, I've also made a few changes to gameplay to adapt the mechanics better to desktop play. Mainly that's meant adding keyboard controls, but as there will be a paid version I've also removed all trace of ads or premium currency from the full game and reworked a few things to balance those changes. I've also added another layer of achievements for the full version only, and these will be in the next Android update too.
Rampage through Brainsville on your Windows PC, soon(ish)
There's life in the old game yet.

I'll do a full postmortem on Zombie Cannon Attack! once the post-release dust has settled (which obviously won't happen til I actually stop releasing on new platforms). At the moment I'm a long way short of where I'd need to be to make a full-time living at gamedev, although this game has done much better than my last game did (both in critical and commercial terms) and I've learnt a huge amount in the course of developing and releasing it.
Ooh, closing in on Version 1.2.34, said the serious proper gamedev
August Stats:

August was a really busy month, as you'd expect from a release month. However that isn't really reflected in my hours worked. School holidays and family commitments have taken up a lot of time (not that I'm complaining, family comes first) so when I've had the time to work I've had to cram it in. Twitter continues to grow steadily, I've been a lot stricter with who I follow back to try and cut down on timeline clutter and it doesn't really seem to have made a difference to the growth of my followers. This blog had a really good month and was up almost 50% on the previous month, helped by me tweeting a lot more as I promoted Zombie Cannon Attack!'s various releases. Readership has now more than trebled in the last 6 months which is always nice to see. A big thanks to you for reading today and helping to add to that.

Twitter 1539 (+164)
August blog views 731
Blog views/day: 23.6 (July was 15.9)
Hours worked 119.5 (3.9 per day) (July was 3.5/day)


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 28/08/17

Last week saw the release of Zombie Cannon Attack! on Kongregate (one of the major web game portal sites). The launch was relatively successful, it already has nearly three times the total plays of my last game after less than a week. I'll need to see how plays drop off over time to get a better idea of how it went but I'm reasonably satisfied so far. I also got plenty of good feedback, enough to produce three separate updates in the last week. Launching a game is always a little tiring and stressful but as it's the third launch this month I'm starting to get the hang of it. Android version downloads are slowly increasing too, but it's fair to say I won't be retiring off the proceeds of Zombie Cannon Attack!
Here's the update you've all been waiting for... introducing the Settings button. Yeah!
Window(s) into the future

I'm now looking at releasing on Gamejolt, I'll need to produce a downloadable desktop version of the full game if I want to release the demo browser version, this is something I've been thinking about doing anyway though and I can then also put it on Itch.io and other sites. It shouldn't be too difficult to produce a Windows download using Cordova, however as the game is designed for mobile I'll need to adapt some mechanics for desktop first.

I'm also now thinking about my next game, as I'm mostly just tinkering with ZCA so it's a good time to start something new. I'm considering either a territory based clicker/idle game or a simple shooter with a fairly complex crafting/trading system. I'll probably end up making them both eventually but I'm leaning towards the idle game first. I'll write more once I have something to show.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 21/08/17

Last week was a bit quiet as far as gamedev news goes. Family weddings and birthdays took up half the week and left me well short of my hours worked target, but under the circumstances I think I can be excused for slacking a little.

Koming to a portal near you

I'm getting ready to release an updated demo version of Zombie Cannon Attack! on Kongregate. I've put some of the lessons learned from the Newgrounds release into practice. I still need to do more testing but everything looks good so far. I'll be posting and tweeting about it when release day arrives.
If you've ever wondered what sound a zombies head makes as it bounces after being fired from a cannon, you've probably got too much time on your hands. So download my game!
Androids + Potions = Fun!

Today I released Android version 1.1 (get it here FREE!), the changes are mainly to the later stages of the game to try and keep it challenging. I've also reduced the cost of unlocking the second world (Brainsville), as I really want players to experience the content even if they can't afford to buy potions (ZCA's premium currency). Potions are also one of the rewards for watching video ads and the price change makes that route much more feasible. I've boosted the amount of Potions in the IAP packs too.
It's now much easier to terrorize the poor citizens of Brainsville, you're welcome!
Downloads are still going slowly but I'm looking at more ways to market the game on a budget (a budget of nil) and I'm hopeful the Kongregate version will help too.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 14/08/17

After the stress of launch week, last week was another busy week but thankfully much less stressful. I solved the main problems with Zombie Cannon Attack! on Newgrounds, which were issues with how the game interacted with the host site rather than problems with the game itself. I'm happy that it's all sorted out though and ready for release on more portals from next week.

Features and Bugs
Always make sure you get proof it really happened!
Zombie Cannon Attack! actually ended up doing really well on Newgrounds despite the initial problems. It was featured on the front page and spent a day or so as the most popular game of the week (they use a rolling seven days, with games dropping off exactly a week after launch). I've had some really positive reviews, including my personal favourite:
"Almost instantly addicted. It's simple but super cute and kept me playing for a half hour before I realized how much time had passed."
See here for the rest, lots of nice things were said and pretty much all the negatives are from the issues I mentioned before. As with most projects, I was really excited to get the game out to players but I also had a few doubts along the way and it's great to see people enjoying playing.

Attention Seeking

Unfortunately this success has yet to translate to the Android version, where downloads are still going slowly. It's clear I have lots to learn about marketing, and I'm wondering if I released too early as with a little over 4 months from concept to release there wasn't much time for marketing. I'm hoping the next portal releases will drive more downloads and in the meantime trying to get as much attention as possible from review sites and social media.
If you're reading this and you haven't downloaded Zombie Cannon Attack! yet, I'd really appreciate you giving it a go and letting me know what you think.

Zombie Cannon Attack! is out now on Android.

For a full preview blog try here.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 07/08/17

Well, it's been a hectic week and I'm officially knackered so any post launch postmortem will have to wait til next week. But in brief:

Any launch you can walk away from ...

Zombie Cannon Attack! is live on the Google Play Store, the launch was a success technically but so far there's not been much in the way of downloads. You can (and should) download it here for FREE and let me know what you think. I did a full preview post last week which you can read here.

Just realised there's no cannon on the title screen, what an oversight
I've also released a slightly pared down web version on Newgrounds. The launch there did not go so smoothly, there was an annoying bug that seemed to be some sort of conflict with the sites advertising. However it's fixed now and the game has been pretty well received. At time of writing it's the 4th most popular game of the last week and there's a decent chance it may go higher over the next few days.

I've updated the cannon image, I reckon it's about 27% more cannony now
I've decided to hold off on releasing on other sites such as Kongregate and Gamejolt for a few days. The last week took it out of me a bit and I need to recharge.

July Stats

It seems a bit outdated to be talking about last month after such an eventful week, but here's the stats anyway. Hours worked were below target but much better than June, and I had a weekend away and another at a local festival so it's not too bad all things considered. This blog didn't grow at all on a page views per day basis, but it was a lower priority due to launch preparations so we'll see if it picks up again. Twitter continues to grow at a decent pace despite me cutting down on the number I follow back to try and keep the numbers manageable.

Twitter 1375 (+172)
July blog views 492
Blog views/day: 15.9 (June was 16.1)
Hours worked 108.5 (3.5 per day) (June was 2.9/day)



Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Introducing Zombie Cannon Attack!

It's finally here! After months of development, Zombie Cannon Attack! releases on Android today, with further platforms to follow. Zombie Cannon Attack! is a zombie themed endless runner. As the blurb says "Fire test zombies from your cannon and help them infect the local populace to create your very own rampaging zombie horde. Gather data and use it to upgrade your zombies and create the perfect undead army." You can download it for FREE from the Google Play Store here.


Perhaps, however, you're the sort of discerning player that doesn't just click any old download link they're told to on the internet. In that case, this is the post for you.

The Zombie

That's probably not ketchup
So, there's this Mad Scientist chap, intent on world domination/slaughtering humanity and starting anew/blowing shit up for fun* (delete as appropriate). Does he melt the polar icecaps and hide on a mountain top? Build an army of crazed killer cyborgs? Or does he create a single zombie to send out into the world and spread an undead plague? If you guessed zombies, you're correct (if not maybe you'll be interested in my upcoming games Shooty Cyborg Attack! or Drowny Water Attack!).

Mmmm, data
Obviously subjugating the whole planet with one solitary zombie is a lot to ask. Like any good scientist, he'll need to experiment, gather data and keep tweaking his plague until he can produce the perfect specimen. He'll also need an assistant out in the field to record the data and perhaps give the zombie hordes a little helping hand every now and again. In short, he needs you!
A zombie, probably in a snowstorm or something.
The Cannon

Nevermind the UFO, there's a zombie in a m****f***ing cannon.
As everyone knows, you can't just release a zombie anywhere and expect results. But you also don't want to get caught driving a rotting corpse into town, especially one that won't keep still. You need a delivery method. You need a cannon (obviously).

Luckily for you, zombies have very bouncy heads
The Attack!

You have your zombie, you have your cannon, you have your target (Starter Town to, er, start with). You're all set, right? Well it turns out there may be a few small problems:

Don't just lie there, infect someone. Oh, you're liquefying. Well, er, carry on.
Problem 1: Zombies are rubbish
Sorry to be blunt, but your chosen plague vector is basically a lump of rotting meat with all it's higher brain functions removed. The end goal may be a rampaging killing machine, but the initial reality is something that won't so much catch and infect it's victims as it will shuffle along then fall over and twitch for a bit. You'll have a LOT of upgrading to do.

'Look, some of our fellow citizens are tricking the zombies by turning green, moaning and eating people'
Problem 2: Cannons are rubbish
I mean, cannons? Who uses cannons nowadays? No-one, that's who. It's all laser-guided cruise missiles these days, and not just because of how cool they sound. Your cannon in particular is poorly maintained and unreliable. It will also need some upgrading, and even then I wouldn't expect too much from it. Seriously though, a cannon? What were you thinking?

'Hurray, a small wall defended by a single police officer, we're saved!'
Problem 3: People don't like being turned into zombies
Who knew? It turns out that, rather than stand by as they and their loved ones are turned into the walking dead, many people will run away. Some will even stand and fight, using makeshift barricades and whatever weapons are to hand. That's not to mention the Police and Armed Forces. There are even rumours of crazy vigilantes who use their underwear as overwear rushing to join the fight.

In case you're wondering, that's SuperZee - the man of Teal - dunno who you thought it was.
This might be harder than you thought. Zombie Cannon Attack! is out now and you really should play it.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 31/07/17

Well, it's finally here. Zombie Cannon Attack! launches this week. I'm really looking forward to getting the game out there.

Please release me

Assuming the latest build (Version 1.0.01) hasn't broken anything I'll release it to open beta tomorrow (1st August) on the Google Play Store. As there's no current production version it should show up as early access until I take it out of beta, which I'm planning to do over the weekend all being well. I'll release the Newgrounds version on Friday and (again assuming all goes well) release on Kongregate a few days later, hopefully Sunday. After that I'll be looking into releasing on Gamejolt, but as I've never uploaded anything there before I don't have a set date I'm aiming for yet.

You've come a long way, Zombie

I'm planning to write a new in-depth preview to coincide with the release of Zombie Cannon Attack!, but in the meantime I just wanted to share a few before and after screenshots to highlight the progress I've made over the last few months. Hopefully you can tell which is before and which is after without me pointing it out.

As you can see, the differences here are like day...

..and night.

Change the font, add a few pictures, get rid of the awful green colour and...
...hurray, eyes no longer repelled, nausea greatly reduced!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 24/07/17

I said last week I'd just uploaded what I hoped was the final pre-release build of Zombie Cannon Attack! to the Google Play store. As ever that proved to be a little optimistic, I pushed another build over the weekend and I've made some slight tweaks to that one too.

Just in case you thought I was making it up

As I've taken the decision to hold release until next week I can't be certain that I won't make any more changes but I feel like I've got the game balanced nicely and ironed out all the bugs. I made one really satisfying fix to something that I'd thought I was just going to have to live with so at the moment I feel the decision to delay was justified.

This is the new load screen, hopefully more entertaining than watching a bar fill up
Portal-ly Amazing

I'm planning to take the rest of the week to produce a version for portal sites, starting with Newgrounds and Kongregate and possibly Gamejolt. The idea is for this version to have the basic features that the Android version has, but without the bonuses and extra features that can be unlocked by watching ads or with in-app purchases. Hopefully this will prompt players to then download the 'full' version from the Play store. I also have a bit more promotional work to do, including a full preview blog post either this week or next.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 17/07/17

Ok, so it's not the 17th. It's actually the 21st and this is is the latest I've ever posted a devblog since I started. This is also going to be the shortest devblog I've done.

Better late than never

I was hoping to release Zombie Cannon Attack! this week, but I'm not quite ready. It's a little disappointing as I'm really close. As I write this I'm working on balancing the later game a little better, and hopefully the latest Alpha build I'm releasing to the Google Play store (Version 0.9.78) will be the last. However next week is really bad for releasing as I'll be away for part of it so it looks like being the beginning of August. As I said it's disappointing but it gives me more time to get the game ready and some of the things I was planning to do post-release can be done before instead.

Yes, this is the same screenshot as last week, better than nothing though eh?
I've made big improvements to the game's performance and fixed a lot of annoying bugs and problems mainly to do with in-game adverts, so I'm satisfied that the final release will be something I can be proud of. Next week I hope to write a full preview of the game with loads of screenshots and gameplay gifs, so stay tuned.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 10/07/17

I'm pretty pleased with how last week went. I put in more hours than I'd managed for a month and I now have an Android version of Zombie Cannon Attack! that works well. I'd go so far as to call it releaseable, but I'm planning to hold back for another week.

You medalling fool!


I spent about half the week adding new medals and upgrades that will unlock with Brainsville, the second stage/world. Along with the new enemies I added last week they add a new dimension to the game, prior to these changes the differences in levels were largely cosmetic.

Tricky Zombies deploy a fleet of flying Pow! signs in their attack on the city, probably.
I've also added little bits and pieces to give the game more polish, including several new sound effects and a little animation at the start of each run. The animation actually serves a useful technical purpose as I've found it sometimes takes a few seconds for the performance of the game to settle at the beginning, so instead of having the 'patient zero' zombie already in the cannon he now walks onscreen and jumps onto the barrel. It takes less than 2 seconds but that little delay is all I needed.

I spent the rest of the week testing and balancing, I've fixed a few bugs and made some minor changes
Still to come

I decided against using google sign-in, It's not really necessary for this game and I don't want to add delays for no benefit. As I said earlier, everything is now working on the Android version, performance is looking good too. I once again have a small list of changes and fixes but most of the work between now and release is going to be about promotion and marketing.

I'm not planning a huge campaign, but I need promotional materials for the GooglePlay page and while I have them there's certainly no harm in putting a presskit together and seeing if I can attract any interest. If you're a gaming blogger, writer or youtuber and are interested in featuring my game then please get in touch. You can find more info about the game in previous blog posts or just get in touch via twitter etc.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 03/07/17

Not a bad week, certainly not by June's standards at least (see stats section later). I've spent the last few days working on integrating ads into Zombie Cannon Attack! Video and banner ads are now working but need some more tweaking and I may also add occasional skippable interstitial ads between runs but only once every 5-10 minutes. Obviously I'd rather not be putting adverts in my game but there doesn't seem to be another viable option at the moment, and I've at least enjoyed the technical challenge.

It's in the game.

On the gameplay side I've added the last currently planned character, SuperZee, complete with cool laser graphics and sfx that I'm pretty happy with. SuperZee appears alongside Brainman in Brainsville but is also the informal boss of World One (currently known as Starter Town) and will be an unpleasant surprise for any zombie horde that reaches the kilometer mark.


I've also spent time reworking the post-run backdrop, I've added buttons to play the rewarded video ads and change the world as well as link buttons to Twitter, Facebook and the Rubble Games website.

Buttons man, Gotta press em all!
I now have a small list of tweaks and bug fixes to get through and I still want to look at using google sign-in. I feel very close to finishing but the release date now looks likely to be mid-July instead of early July as I'd previously hoped.

June buggy

June was a very mixed month. I'm really disappointed with the hours I worked. There was some justification for working less this month but overall I should have done more and it's something I need to work on for the rest of the year.
However I have overcome a lot of technical hurdles this month and I'm pretty pleased with the quality of my work despite the quantity being too low.
On the social media side, my Twitter followers continue to grow but the growth has slowed. I've had to be a bit more picky about who I follow back which may have slowed the growth a little but I needed to rethink things or twitter would've become unusable. I like the idea of following back those that follow me but the numbers I'm following (nearly 900) are starting to become unmanageable.
This blog continues to grow at a decent rate, although it's still pretty small it's nice to see those numbers keep going up.

Twitter followers: 1203 (+166)
May blog views: 482
Blog views/day: 16.1 (May was 13.8)
Hours worked: 86 (2.9/day) (May was 4/day)


Monday, 26 June 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 26/06/17

All in all last week went pretty well. A week ago I was still struggling to integrate an in-app purchase plugin with Zombie Cannon Attack!, now things are looking a lot better. As lasts weeks blog was a little late (and I was too pleased with myself to wait a week to write about it), I've already mentioned that I switched to a different IAP plugin and it now works fine. Since then I've also added a plugin to integrate Google Admob into the game in order to display rewarded video ads, I got it sort of working at the first attempt (it currently displays ads during the game instead of waiting for them to be requested, but at least it displays them, and I've hopefully fixed the problem.)

Enough about my backend

Having got over most of the major technical problems standing in the way of release, I spent the rest of the week working on making sure all the premium currency purchases are actually available. To that end I added a second world/town/level - Brainsville - that had previously existed mostly as ideas and concept art but is now mostly finished. As part of this I also created a new character (Brainman) to help make the new town a big step up in difficulty.
The hero Brainsville needs
I've also added 3 skin packs to the premium currency store (see pics below), these allow you to reskin your zombie horde with zombie versions of the games NPCs. They're mostly cosmetic, the aim being to allow players to contribute without making the game pay-to-win. I'm planning on giving premium currency as a reward for watching ads, which will allow all the levels and skin packs to be unlocked without spending real money.


Much to-do about releasing

I've still got plenty to do, I have a second superhero character to add (SuperZee). I'm planning on having him appear as the boss of world one, as well as a recurring enemy in Brainsville. Most of the pixel art is done, but the coding will probably take a day or so. That's the last major gameplay element I'm planning on adding prior to launch, but there are other things to do such as implementing link buttons, a backdrop and a banner ad for the end of run/game over section. I'm also going to look at adding a google sign-in plugin for social sharing and leaderboards etc.
Then all that's left is to test, polish and finally release. It's still possible that I'll be able to push out at least a Beta release next week if everything goes well this week, fingers crossed.