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.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 22/05/17

Another week of steady progress, productivity wise my hours worked were up a little again, I'm still slightly below target but May is looking much better than April so far. I spent most of the week polishing Zombie Cannon Attack! and working on the Android version.

Two versions are better than (n)one

I'm strongly leaning towards releasing a demo web version and an Android version with more content, possibly with an iOS version to follow. I've made the decision to add a premium currency shop even though the game may be a little small for it, it'll be good experience for later games. I got to know the Phaser engine and web portals pretty well with my first game (Super Endless Kingdom), now with ZCA I'm learning a lot about mobile development including touch screen controls, scaling for different screen sizes and using Cordova to make an Android version with Play Store integration. Hopefully this will make things easier for my next project, so I can do something a little larger in scope without it taking too long.

Young and Gif-ted

I also made my first ZCA gameplay gif this week for Screenshot Saturday, using a great little program called screentogif. It was really easy to use and I highly recommend it.

This gives you a good idea of the visuals, but for the full experience you'll need someone to scream at you and make gunshot noises while you watch this.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 15/05/17

Not much to report this week I'm afraid, my hours worked were slightly up again but I don't feel like I've as much to show from it this time. This is largely because I spent most of the week doing boring business stuff like researching potential license sales for Zombie Cannon Attack! but I do have a decent size spreadsheet of contacts who I can start, er, contacting soon.

Androids, everybody needs good Androids

I then spent the weekend wrestling with Apache Cordova, for anyone not familiar with this it basically turns my HTML5 browser games into a phone/tablet app. Most of the problem was getting everything installed correctly, but now having done that I have a basic working Android version. It still needs a lot of work to integrate with Android API etc and add the features you'd expect to see in a mobile game, but up until now I wasn't sure it would work at all so it feels pretty good to have got far enough to know that it will work eventually.

Pic me up
Spot the subtle advertising if you can. No, not the apples.
I'm planning a fairly detailed post on Zombie Cannon Attack! soon, but in the meantime I'll share a few new screenshots.
You have the right to remain ..,. dead!
I still feel the sky looks a little plain. As well as the clouds there are also stars but they don't show up very well in these pictures. I've actually spent time today making the stars a little more visible and also making them twinkle, it's the little things that matter (though possibly not this little).

The rampaging zombie horde meets it's match, a guy throwing cans and a small wooden box.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 08/05/17

So, Zombie Cannon Attack! is very nearly finished and I'm into the final testing, polishing and balancing stage of development. I find motivating myself during this stage a bit tougher and that's reflected a little in terms of hours last week which were still a little below average, although they were higher than I've managed for nearly a month and once again I got plenty done.

You won't believe what happened to the to-do list!

I added a music track for the title screen. I really love the track I've found, it's perfect for the type of game I'm making. I finished and tested the save system, it's only a local save to your browser but that's enough for a game of this size. I also added a simple credits screen and finished the tutorial (although I have a little more testing to do on this), added a few visual and sound effects to emphasize power-ups and added a proper results screen. That was pretty much my entire to-do list from last week. I spent the rest of the week adding small graphical touches and adjusting the volume on the sound effects as they were a little overwhelming when a lot was happening.

Now with added social media/website links and a slightly higher version number!
User-testing Usually Useful

I've also done some limited user testing, although I haven't really got anything useful from the testers yet I still find it helps me focus on areas that need improvement. There's something about knowing other people are going to start seeing my game in action that raises the standards I set for myself and makes me more focused on the user experience, especially the early game. One conclusion I've come to is that the game was starting off a little too slowly. A common feature of endless runner type games is an upgrade shop that helps the player get further, I want the player to feel they're making constant progress but the first few runs weren't feeling particularly rewarding. The runs are pretty short but even so players have limited patience and goodwill, I don't want to burn through that limited supply before the player starts feeling rewarded. I've already made a few small changes to try and fix this, but I need to be careful not to unbalance the later game which is working fine.

Once I'm happy with the game I plan to talk to potential partners about licenses and get the game ready for an Android release while incorporating feedback. If you would like to test the game I'm looking to add a few more testers, and if you give me useful feedback I'll be happy to add your name to the credits section. Contact me via Twitter or email me (rubble.game.studio@gmail.com).

Thanks for reading. All the best 😃


Monday, 1 May 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 01/05/17

Another fairly quiet week in terms of hours worked, although with the school holidays over I was able to do a bit more. However I still feel like I accomplished plenty, which is pretty much the story of the month as a whole (see below)

Placeholders Re-Re-visited

I've done a little more work on the tutorial and made further improvements to the medals/achievements section (see last week's blog for more on this), it's now improved to the point where I feel I need to do more work on the shop/upgrades screen as this now looks a little plain in comparison. This is often the way polishing goes for me, I work on the thing that bugs me the most until I have something I'm happy with then other areas I was previously happy with start to look
in need of an overhaul.
This is the 3rd week running I've shown this section, you try coming up with 3 different 'amusing' captions. (No, really, give it a go, send me your ideas)
I love it when a (game) comes together

I've added a title screen and got to work on a basic save game function. I've also added a couple of music tracks that I'm pretty happy with, they fit the theme of the game really nicely. Finally I've been working on scaling the game for mobile devices and improving performance. I've a little more to do on both of these but it's really just to see if I can add a little extra, everything that's there works fine.

Hmm, a game about attacking with zombies and a cannon. What should I call it?
Still to do: I need a music track for the title screen, I need to finish the save system and add a small credits screen (just for music and few SFX this time). I have one more element to add to the tutorial and a few visual and sound effects to emphasize power-ups. That's really not that much.

Super Endless Kingdom update

Helpful citizens, generous dowries and a neatly laid out town centre. What more could you ask for?
I've done almost no coding on Super Endless Kingdom in April, but I've in no way abandoned the project. I now have enough ideas for improvements to hopefully finish the game and I'll get back to it before too long. The game was featured on the Phaser site recently (Phaser is the framework my games are built on top of), with Phaser's creator Richard Davey saying nice things and making the game his staff pick in his weekly newsletter.
It's not too late to give me your feedback, any ideas you have could still make the finished game so give it a try. The most up to date version is on Newgrounds here.

April Stats

In terms of hours worked, April was by far my least productive of the year so far. It's pretty easily explained by the two weeks of school holidays that meant I spent more time looking after my son, as well as birthdays and bank holidays where I took time to spend with my family, and a few days lost to illness. Still, it's something I need to keep an eye on.
I'm pretty happy with the work I did in April, as I've said Zombie Cannon Attack! is getting pretty close to completion. I've learnt a decent amount about optimising my code and social media continues to show healthy growth. Special thanks to my partner for getting the Rubble Games facebook page up and running, but it's also nice to see this blog continue to grow steadily.

Twitter followers: 804 (+253)
April blog views: 366
Blog views/day: 12.2 (March was 10.35)
Hours worked 99.5 (3.3/day) (March was 4/day)

Monday, 24 April 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 24/04/17

Well tl:dr - much better than last week. Which is strange really as in terms of hours I didn't really do much more than the previous week, however this time that was by choice as opposed to forced on me by illness (it was still school holidays so I took a little time off to enjoy it with my family) and that made a big difference. The hours that I did spend working felt much more productive, and we had plenty of sunshine which always helps.

Placeholders Re-visited

I've added extra sound effects and replaced most of the placeholder SFX and the game is sounding much better now, the effects I've found fit well with the humourous style I'm going for and help bring the game to life (I also spent time making all the characters blink, which makes me laugh much more than it should). There's still a bit of work to do as it can sound a little cluttered when there's a lot going on, and I need to add a music track, but overall I'm happy with my progress on this.

I spent far too long coming up with 'clever' titles for the medals, I'm sure you'll agree they're very punny (sorry)

I've also reworked the placeholder assets for medals/achievements, this is still a work in progress but looking better than last week. I've got a small issue with triggering rewards when more than one milestone is passed but hopefully I can sort that with a bit more testing.

Obstacles - not a problem

This is a crate that you click on to destroy, hence the sign. Don't click the sign though, it's not clickable.

Perhaps the biggest change this week was the addition of obstacles that the player needs to click to destroy before they block the zombies progress (zombies decompose pretty quickly outside the lab, as you're probably aware). I think this is the final gameplay element the project needed, previously I felt as a player I spent too much time watching and waiting but now it feels much more involved. Most of the gameplay work from now on will hopefully be small balancing tweaks.

Finally, over the weekend I started coding the tutorial, it's probably at least 80% done now but needs user testing. The gameplay and controls are pretty simple so I should be able to keep the tutorial pretty light.

As anyone who's ever cleaned a cannon will tell you, ripe zombies are not a good ammunition choice. 

The main to-do list items I've yet to start are the menu screen and some sort of save functionality. I may also add some sort of intro/story scene but I don't want to get bogged down so this might not make the cut.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 17/04/17

Well that was a pretty rubbish week. A combination of illnesses and school holidays meant I only just managed to avoid setting a new record for least hours worked in a week. However, it wasn't a total loss. I did manage to start setting up sound effects on Zombie Cannon Attack, I'm mostly just using placeholder SFX from my last project and it sounds a little cluttered at the moment, but with the coding done it should be pretty straightforward to switch out the old sounds when I have something better and then tidy up a little.

Medals & Achievements
Nothing says 'Medal Unlocked' quite like a big yellow button with 'Medal Unlocked' written on it
I also managed to do most of the coding behind the medals/achievements system. Again I'm using a lot of placeholder assets at the moment so the pictures don't look that great but swapping out assets is simple compared to implementing the achievements and making sure the awards trigger when they're supposed to. Not having the rewards coded was also hampering work on balancing the gameplay so I've been able make decent progress on that over the last day or so.

I'll admit placeholder assets don't make for the best screenshot, but it's much better than the sound effects picture turned out
All in all then, some progress made but I don't really feel any closer to release. Hopefully I can avoid many more weeks like this.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 10/04/17

Zombie Cannon Attack

I've mentioned my new project a few times already. I think I'm finally far enough into the development process to feel comfortable going into a little more detail. The project's working title is Zombie Cannon Attack, as this is a pretty good description of the gameplay it may well end up as the games actual title too, but we'll have to see.

A zombie in a cannon, (allegedly) preparing an attack

Zombie Cannon Attack sees you assisting a mad scientist as he attempts to conquer the world (or something) by sending his Zombie Test Subjects against the terrified inhabitants of a small town somewhere, presumably as a test run before moving on to the major cities of the world. You do this by firing Zombies out of a cannon so they can attack and infect the population, hopefully creating a full blown rampaging zombie horde that can sweep all before it. The gameplay combines aspects of throwing games such as Toss The Turtle or Learn To Fly with side-scrolling endless runner type mechanics.

The upgrade shop, where the mad scientist upgrades your zombies for points because something something plot.

All very interesting I hear you say, but will your game feature goths defending their town by throwing bottles at zombies? Well...

Mobile Issues

Zombie Cannon Attack was designed from the start to work on mobile unlike my other project, Super Endless Kingdom. So when I started testing on mobile last week and found I was getting around 4 frames per second(fps) with nothing happening onscreen, having mostly had a solid 60fps on desktop browsers, that was a pretty major problem. I spent a few days refactoring code and redesigning the games core functions, on the plus side I ended up with a game that's can now theoretically go on forever without getting slower but on the minus side I had to strip out the Tilemap I'd spent a few days learning to use early in the dev process and just go with a background colour and sprites sitting on top. This got me up to 15-20fps on mobile, which was still not good enough. On a hunch I then forced the game engine to use the Canvas instead of webGL and suddenly I had 40-55fps, a huge improvement. It still drops to 30 on mobile during busy points so there's more work to do, but for this sort of game 30fps is still playable.

Is it a bird? No it's a zombie, you must have funny looking birds where you come from mate.

To-do list

As well as improving performance I still need to add sound and a titlescreen. I also want to add an achievement/medals system, expand the upgrade shop a little and add obstacles to impede the zombie hordes, but I'm trying to keep the feature list as light as possible so I can launch pretty quickly. Once these features are added I'll concentrate on balancing the gameplay and polishing the graphics. It'd be really nice to have at least a beta launch this month but that might be a stretch, development always seems to take longer than anticipated so it'll be ready when it's good enough to release.

These Army guys certainly are tough, I wonder what this Rampage button does (mwuhahahaha)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 03/04/17

Newgrounds

Last week saw the release of Super Endless Kingdom on Newgrounds. This is the second of the well known portals I've released to now after Kongregate at the start of March. The Kongregate release was pretty disappointing, the rating is currently only 2.2 out of 5 and the game has been played less than 300 times. Kongregate's reviews system has it's problems but I don't want to make excuses, it just didn't do very well and the platform was probably the wrong choice to release on first. However one plus point was that I got some good (and bad) feedback, enough to make 3 decent sized updates prior to getting the game ready for Newgrounds.
The Newgrounds release went much better, the game was rated a much more satisfying 3 out of 5 and all the feedback I received was very positive. Whether the difference was down to the changes I made or the sites themselves I'll never know, but from a developer point of view the Newgrounds approach to new releases is much better. After a week the game had received nearly 1500 plays and 80 or so ratings and I can now be reasonably confident the rating is an accurate reflection of the game's appeal. I released one more post-release update and I'm now planning to hold off until I have enough ideas to take the game out of beta.
As far as monetization goes, I can see that an online, ad-supported model just isn't going to make any money for Super Endless Kingdom. As a game that only really works well on a desktop I should probably be looking to sell the finished game as a download. It's something I'll be looking into more after I've taken a few weeks away from the project. It might seem strange to be coming to this conclusion so late in the development stage but it's in keeping with the way the project has evolved as I've learned more.

New Project

In the meantime I'm pretty happy with how my new project is progressing. It's been designed to be mobile friendly and much more accessible as well as much more limited in scope - a fun timewaster instead of a game that provides hours of content. The basic premise is that you help a Mad Scientist turn humanity into a rampaging zombie horde because <reasons>. I'll be posting more in the coming weeks but here's a quick gif of the villain for now.


New Stats (for March)

I've been keeping track of a few stats since I launched this blog and my Twitter account in early February as a way to help me monitor my progress (or lack of). There isn't a great deal to compare with yet but March seemed to go pretty well. It was a difficult month in many ways which is reflected in my hours worked but otherwise there was decent growth:

Twitter followers: 551 (+241)
March blog views: 321
Blog views/day: 10.35 (Feb was 7.5)
Hours worked 125.5 (4/day) (Feb was 4.4/day)

It's nice to see these stats keep going up but I'm not going to read too much into them. I'd like to get the hours worked back to February's level or a little higher provided I'm doing good work.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 27/03/2017

Well, it's been a pretty challenging week. I won't get into the reasons as it's not development related but it did delay the release of Super Endless Kingdom on Newgrounds. However, after spending the latter half of the week adding achievements and medals (only on Newgrounds for now but I'm planning to integrate them further for the final version) and getting to grips with a new API I finally managed to release today (hurrah!), see here for proof.

If you have a Newgrounds account please give the game a play and leave a review or rating, the feedback will really help as I prepare the next update, and if you don't have a Newgrounds account then by all means sign up and then restart this sentence. It'll only take a minute 😜

New Project

As I said last week, I've started a new project as a way to let off a bit of steam while I get Super Endless Kingdom ready for a full release. I'm still not ready to talk about it quite yet, but my intention is for it to be much smaller in scope (we'll see if I can fight off feature creep) and for it to be designed for mobile play while also still functioning in a browser. I do have some new artwork to share though, and I'm planning to have more to show on Saturday.

Something something loose cannon blah blah bend the rules blah get the job done etc

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 20/03/2017

A little late this week as I've been busy with family stuff and getting Super Endless Kingdom ready for release on Newgrounds. After releasing on Kongregate and pushing out 3 update in a week I took a little break last week to start on a new, much smaller, project. I'm not quite ready to talk about it yet so for now here's a gif by way of sneak preview.

February Update

I've been tracking a few stats with the intention of releasing a quick monthly update without quite finding the time. As I don't have much else to write this week I thought I'd just stick it in here for now.

February saw me launch the Rubble Games twitter account and by the end of the month I'd reached 310 followers.

I also launched this blog, making 4 posts that gained a total of 165 page views.

In total I worked 122.5 hrs in February, which works out at roughly 4.4 hours per day. For comparison in January I worked 129.5 hours, but as that was a longer month it averaged out at 4.2/day, so February was slightly busier.



Monday, 13 March 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, 13/03/2017

Last week I uploaded Super Endless Kingdom to Kongregate (play it here) and I mostly spent last week dealing with the feedback I received. As a proof of concept the launch went well, the Kongregate upload process and API are both pretty easy to get to grips with and I have a much clearer understanding of the rating system and the stages a new game has to go through. However, as an actual game launch it's been a slow start to say the least. I'll outline some of the positives and negatives below.


The Good

The upload worked with very little trouble. I've integrated with the Kongregate stats API to provide leaderboards for three separate stats and received no reports of bugs or crashes (so far). I've received a lot of useful feedback, so much so that I'm just about finished with the 3rd update of the last week (more on that below). The game has also earned a small (very small 😆) amount of money through Kongregate's revenue share scheme.

The Bad

While I still consider the game to be in beta, I found out too late that Kongregate's beta programme is only for a select few games. New games go through a review process but that was over in a few days, something else I wasn't prepared for. The most visible feedback I received was pretty negative and didn't really seem to take account of the game being a work in progress. Although I was able to find something useful even from a highly negative review it doesn't change the fact that it's still one of the most prominent comments, despite being several versions out of date. Still, all in all I've learned a lot about Kongregate as a platform and I'm very happy with the changes I've made over the last week.

Your tax <insert denomination here> at work.

The Updates

I've made a few quality of life updates to explain things better and remove some of the rough edges that people were getting snagged on, both literally and figuratively. I added separate hitboxes for collision detection to the player depending on whether the character is interacting with scenery or monsters to allow the player to move around scenery in a more intuitive way, this was simple in itself but caused other problems (the solution to which can only be described as an enormous kludge). I've also made many of the enemies spawn earlier on the game to improve variety.
However the major changes are the addition of a berserker style melee attack and the ability to move diagonally, both of these are pretty major changes to the basic gameplay that have only been tested by me over a few days. It does feel a little risky to make changes that affect the core of the game so quickly when that core has been in place for 6 months or so, but I feel I'm still early enough in the development and release process to take a bit of a chance. Once I've incorporated all the current feedback I'll be looking at uploading my game to other sites such as Newgrounds or Itch.io.

I'm spinning around, move outta my way - or else!
The Rest

Also this week I changed host for www.superendlesskingdom.com from heroku to github and removed all server side functionality (basically just a login system). The site already loads much faster and I'll be looking at ways to make further improvements this week.