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.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 19/06/17

A little late this week. We're having a heatwave in the UK so we had a family trip to the beach on Monday and I was really busy yesterday so here we are. It's actually a good job I delayed as last week had been pretty quiet again, I started the week recovering from a little tummy bug and then family birthday/Father's day celebrations took up the end of the week so there wasn't too much to report.

It bloody works! Yes! yes! yes! ... ahem. 

However I've been mainly working on integrating the in-app purchase plugin for Zombie Cannon Attack! and I made the decision to switch to a different plugin with better documentation, I finished integrating the new plugin yesterday and it finally works!! Woohoo, or indeed, Hurrah!
There's still a little UI work to do but I've set up $1, $2 and $5 bundles and they're all working fine. I'm now working on integrating rewarded video ads with Admob. Hopefully that'll be a much quicker process, from the work I've done so far it certainly seems simpler.

I was so happy when I finally got this working, I did get a little epotional (sorry).
It's not the end, but it's the end of the beginning of the end

Once the infrastructure work with the plugins is complete I'll return to the game itself. I want to implement the second stage before launch but hopefully that won't take too long. Much of the work will be swapping out backgrounds and tweaking the difficulty, but I also want to add at least two new upgrade options as well as two or three extra characters including a couple of mini-bosses. I don't have a set release date I'm aiming for, but I'm really hoping to be ready by early July if not sooner. As ever I'll keep you updated on this blog.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 12/06/17

Last week was a bit of a write-off - between parenting, gardening, illness and the UK General Election I managed about half the work I'd hope for. In terms of hours it was actually the lowest of the year so far. Still I did manage to make a little progress, so I'll start with that.

Plugin Baby

I'm still working on integrating the in-app purchase plugin for Zombie Cannon Attack!, it's been slow going as I wasn't feeling up to doing anything complicated most days but I'm making steady headway. The coding is basically all done but now needs debugging and testing.

Anyone can pixel art
Ignore the bouncing Zombie, you're supposed to be looking at the house.
Instead of tackling the complicated coding I spent time working on updating the artwork. I've updated the red brick house in the first stage and added a few background buildings for the next stage, Brainsville. I still have a few more characters to create and/or animate but I've nearly got enough to launch with now and whether I do any more than the first two worlds depends on how the game is received.
Your typical city at night picture - tower blocks, supermarket, buried skulls of the dead, superhero zombies etc

What's it all about, Zombie?

Because there's not that much to tell this week I thought it might be a good opportunity to give an updated overview of Zombie Cannon Attack!
As I've mentioned before the game is a zombie-themed endless runner variant. You begin each run with a single Zombie, you then fire said Zombie from your cannon, your Zombie flies, crashes and bounces as far as it can before starting to run towards the closest citizens - but you need to hurry as it's decomposing quickly, it's a race to pass on the infection before your Zombie collapses.
Zombie hurling is actually a very popular sport in some countries
There are various obstacles to overcome, from inanimate objects such as crates and walls to the town citizens who are your intended victims. Some citizens run away, but others join the Police and Army to try and fight off your attack. The main aim is to build a large horde that can overwhelm opposition and infect citizens faster than it's constituent zombies die off.
Due to it being a 2D world, if you zoom in it appears that the cop is firing cans out of his gun while drinking from a bottle no-handed. This is, of course, exactly what is happening.
During each run you collect data, your mad scientist partner uses this data to build a better zombie virus that will make the zombies stronger, faster, bouncier and more agile. Rinse and repeat until the entire world is a rotting green mess.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 05/06/17

All in all, last week was pretty satisfying. I maintained my work rate despite the nice weather and school holidays. I also released a working closed-alpha version of Zombie Cannon Attack! to the Android Play Store and started work on in-app purchase and rewarded video ad integration. It's fairly complicated and time-consuming work, but after I've done it once it should be much easier to replicate it for future games.

Bushes now 30% more bushlike
This zombie has clearly been fired from a cannon and not fallen off the roof, I mean what would a zombie be doing on the roof?
A few weeks ago I decided the game was basically finished - there was plenty of polishing to do but I didn't anticipate making significant changes to the way the game looked or played. Obviously no sooner had I said that than I started making some pretty major graphical changes, and once again I spent time last week reworking the graphics. I've redrawn the ground tiles and the bushes that occupied a large part of the background (see here for what they looked like before), I'm pretty happy with the improvement but I'm not ready to say I've finished this time. I'm also working on the background for an unlockable second stage, Brainsville.
Don't worry, those towers are very far away. There are no giant superhero zombies in the game ... yet

Cannon 'just for a laugh' says Developer

I also reworked the cannon mechanics. For those of you that haven't been paying attention, Zombie Cannon Attack! is a zombie themed endless runner variant, The cannon is not actually that big a part of the game, it's more of an interesting way to start a run, but it is important to get it feeling right as it's the first thing players will see. As part of making the initial fire/fly/crash & bounce mechanic feel right I've worked on improving the games overall performance on mobile devices and managed to get a 20% or so boost to mobile frames per second. On desktop browsers I get a smooth 60 fps and it'd be great to get the game working as well on mobile (as the game is primarily designed for mobile), but it's not too far off now.
May the stats be with you

May was a good month overall, I passed 1000 Twitter followers which is a nice milestone. Early in the month this blog passed 1000 views, and views are still growing at a decent rate which is also nice to see. Personally though I'm most satisfied that my hours worked is back up to the level it was before April, there's still room for improvement there however.

May Stats:
Twitter followers: 1037 (+233)
May blog views: 427
Blog views/day: 13.8 (April was 12.2)
Hours worked 123 (4/day) (April was 3.3/day)


Monday, 29 May 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 29/05/17

I've had a pretty productive week. My hours worked were up again and I feel like I've got a lot to show for it too. Having said Zombie Cannon Attack! was nearly finished and I wasn't expecting to make any changes to the visuals or add new features, I then changed most of the background and added another obstacle for the later game. You can see the latest screenshots below, I'm still thinking over whether this is the final version or not. I felt the old version of the sky looked too empty, but now I'm wondering whether the new version is a little dark.

Yes, that is a UFO behind the giant floating brain


Pixel Art at a Premium

For most of the week I worked on building the premium currency store and the front end for the in-app purchase store, I've added a few images to stop it looking too plain and I'm pretty happy with them. One of the many bonuses from this project has been making my own pixel art, although it is really time consuming and I'm not up to professional standards yet. I'm planning to buy assets for the next few projects, but eventually I'd like to be able to do my own art without having to worry whether I'm sacrificing quality.
The in-app purchase screen in all it's money-grabbing glory



A Look at What's in (Play) Store

I spent most of Sunday working on getting the Android version ready for the Google Play store. It was a lot of work but I managed to publish a closed Alpha version, however due to a testing fail it didn't actually work. The problem was pretty minor and is now fixed, but I've made a few other changes to boost performance so I'll wait before re-releasing. I've then got to work on integrating the in-app purchases and video adverts, which is something else I've never done before so it could take days or weeks. I'll be glad to get ZCA released, although I've learned a great deal on this project I'm a few weeks behind the initial schedule I set when I started back in March and I don't want it to eat up too much of next month.