Monday, 27 February 2017

Weekly Development Progress Report, Feb 27th

Hello and welcome to my first weekly development progress report. Although I've been developing for around 8 months now it's only in the last month or so that I've started documenting and recording my progress. My previous blog posts should've brought you more or less up to date with where I am, so what have I done in the last week?

Studio Website

Over the previous weekend I'd got the studio website up and running (check it out at and I spent the start of the week finishing it off and adding details. I'm pretty happy with how it looks now - it's got a nice clean look and works well in different browsers and screen sizes. I'd had a few problems with the game site ( and I still feel like that site needs a rework to make the layout less cluttered but also add more content, so it was nice to get the studio site sorted in just a few days. If you have any feedback please let me know.

User Testing

I've no idea how long I've spent testing this game over the months, between testing specific parts and full playthroughs I would guess I'm well into 3 digits. Every time I've played for any significant amount of time I've come away with a decent list of fixes and improvements to make so I've been a little complacent about getting someone else to test for me. Last week I got my first really good dose of feedback and it was a bit of an eye-opener for me.
User testing identified that the beginning of the game needed more explanation and that the initial difficulty was way too high. As a result I fixed a few small bugs and added several lines of dialogue to explain more of the basics but also made the first levels much easier to give players a gentler start. I also added more visual indicators, for example I've made the mana bar flash when you try and shoot but you're out of mana, and added colour coded updates on yearly gold and population changes to the main city screen. All these changes came about from around 10 minutes of pretty informal user testing.
As I discussed previously, the game has a simple track where rewards boost your character to help you push further when questing and so get better rewards and so on, but the high initial difficulty was preventing my tester from getting on that track to start with and so was effectively game breaking. The game is still tough and the difficulty increases fairly quickly as you progress but seeing that reward cycle a few times before the difficulty really kicks in should provide enough incentive to push that little bit further and keep coming back for more.

Touch screen controls

As a special treat for mobile users - huge transparent arrows. You're welcome.
I spent the rest of the week working on mobile functionality. Super Endless Kingdom was designed primarily to be played on a desktop with keyboard controls, but adding touch controls is pretty simple in Phaser, I didn't have to do much more than follow the example and link the touch results to the existing outcomes of keyboard inputs. Once one touch button was working it just required replicating for the remaining buttons, which involved a fair bit of mildly tedious copy and paste followed by some more rewarding problem solving to fine tune.
Initially I repurposed an existing arrow button as a placeholder image before replacing it with my own pixel art loosely based on the NES control pad (see pic above). I haven't done much of my own pixel art so I was happy with the results, even if you can't really see some of the finer details as the controls are semi-transparent.
I've spent a few days testing and tweaking the results as well as working on the way the game displays in mobile browsers. I'm happy with how the game works on a tablet but I've come to the conclusion that a phone screen size is just too small to be able to properly control your character, so when I start developing the game as an android app I'll probably restrict it to tablets only.

Before I started writing this post I was feeling like I hadn't made much progress last week, but now I'm not so sure. As for the coming week, I have a few more changes to make but hopefully I'll be ready to launch open beta testing before the weekend. Stay tuned on twitter for an announcement.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Super Endless Kingdom Mega Quest Extreme: The Gameplay

Super Endless Kingdom Mega Quest Extreme is a top down 2D shoot 'em up with a similar control system and gameplay to Arena-based twin stick arcade shooters such as Smash TV, but adapted for keyboard controls (using WASD  for movement and →  to shoot) in much the same way as, for example, the Journey of the Prairie King mini game from Stardew Valley.

Yes, he has no nose. Where did it go? Who nose (sorry)
Stages are procedurally generated, there are several different settings each with it's own unique obstacles and enemy NPCs as well as a general set of monsters that appear across all settings. The type, amount and placement of monsters and obstacles is random within certain rules so (outside of a few set-piece levels) you'll never play exactly the same level twice, and in theory there's no limit to the stage you can reach. The Badlands are literally endless.

Someone should really do something about all those loot chests littering the place - Keep the Badlands tidy.
Clearing a stage of enemies moves you on to the next stage which either has more enemies or new, tougher monsters to face. When you lose all your health your grateful citizens will teleport you back to your city just in the nick of time with all your loot intact.

Stage 71: Proof that there are at least 71 stages
Your city itself features your Royal Castle and Departments of State, as well as your Royal Artisans. The castle allows you to set the tax rate and gather information on the functioning of your city. You allocate the funds from taxes (supplemented by all your lovely quest loot) to the yearly budgets of your Departments of State, trusting them to spend their budgets in ways that will boost your economy and help your population grow.

The poor guy can't even afford chairs and still doesn't want to raise taxes. Oh the feels.
Your Royal Artisans also contribute to the health of the economy but their main function is to improve your items and skills to allow you to push further into the Badlands on your quests and so gather more loot and experience. Raising your population helps your artisans to add better perks which allows you to gain more loot so you can raise department budgets which boosts the population and so on in one continuous loot-gathering monster-slaughtering cycle.

Ok, this picture was in the last post so I need a clever caption to justify using it again, um...
The game is currently in closed alpha testing. If you'd like to help and get your name in the credits there's still time (contact details are on the website, drop me a line), all being well I'll move to open beta testing within the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Super Endless Kingdom Mega Quest Extreme: The Plot

For those of you that read my last post, here is part one of the more in depth look at Super Endless Kingdom that I promised. For those of you that didn't read my last post, I promised a more in depth look at the game I'm developing, and here is part one. That should cover everyone.

The basic plot of Super Endless Kingdom boils down to the fact that people need decent public services such as health, education and defence but they aren't overly fond of paying for them via taxes. In our world the shortfall is made up by a combination of continuous exponential economic growth and the global market in sovereign debt, but imagine for a moment a world without either of these things (exciting I know). This other place is a world of rival medieval city states where dimly remembered legends of a glorious past of unity and co-operation have been replaced by fear and mistrust. The need to maintain a large army to defend against the large armies of your neighbours has each state trapped in a cycle of poverty and stagnation.

However, just beyond the borders of the Old Kingdom lie the Badlands, a place where magical wastelands and dark forests hide the ruins of civilizations that were already ancient when the Old Kingdom was at it's height. This is a land filled with treasure but, as those riches are jealously guarded by all manner of unspeakable horrors, no-one has been crazy or desperate enough to venture there for centuries. That's where you come in. As the Ruler of one small city state you must head out to face the horrors. Better make sure you're well equipped.

To compliment your Crown of Power, you wield the Ancient Wand of Power and Shield of Power, slip on your Ring of Power and Amulet of Power before donning your trusty Armour of Power and Boots of, um, Power. Your concerned citizens make sure you've mastered such advanced combat techniques as Walking in More Than One Direction and Destroying Inanimate Objects before sending you off for all that juicy loot.

How will you complete your quest? What challenges will you face? Find out in Part Two 😉
These people need your help!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Introducing Rubble Games and Super Endless Kingdom Mega Quest Extreme

Hi, I'm Paul. I'm the solo indie game developer behind Rubble Games and I'm getting ready to release my debut game - Super Endless Kingdom Mega Quest Extreme. It's (past) time that I started documenting my progress so welcome to my first blog post.

About me

I left a moderately lengthy and largely fruitless career in local government at the start of the year to takeover childcare for my young son and work as a full-time game dev/web dev. My savings will last to the end of the year by which point I'll either need to bring in some money or get a proper job where I don't share an office with my cat. Fingers crossed.
I've been playing games for over 30 years, starting with the Atari 2600 and ZX Spectrum but really developing into a lifelong passion when my brother and I received a NES as a joint Christmas present. As the years passed the NES became a SNES, then an N64, Gamecube, and Wii/DS before the joys of PC/browser and mobile games broke my faithful dedication to Nintendo (that Switch does look pretty cool though, hmm).
After the birth of my son I started looking for a career I could enjoy, my previous approach of living for the evenings and weekends no longer felt viable now I was meant to be setting a good example. I quickly settled on web development and loved it from the start. I had vague notions of maybe learning C# one day and making games but nothing concrete until I saw a tweet from Github linking to an interview with Richard Davey, creator of the Phaser game engine. Seeing an engine for html5 games (I knew html) written in Javascript (I knew that too) was a real eye opener and led directly to where I am today, so thanks Richard, and thanks Github.

(A little bit) About Super Endless Kingdom

I won't go into it much in this post as it'll be pretty much the subject of the whole blog for a while at least. Super Endless Kingdom Mega Quest Extreme is a fast-paced retro arcade shooter with RPG and resource management elements. It's inspired in large part by SNES classics such as Link to the Past or Super Smash TV but also by more modern casual/indie games for mobile and browsers.
I'm at something approximating late-stage Alpha in the development process and I'm looking for a few testers to help with feedback and bug checking, check out for a trailer and to sign up.

Why Super Endless Kingdom Mega Quest Extreme?

My working title of 'That Game Where You Shoot Stuff and Try Not to Die' was starting to feel a little unwieldy so I tried to come up with something more concise. What started out as a joke based on a jumble of SNES-era game names eventually began to seem like a good fit for the type of game I was making and so it stuck.

Why Rubble Games?

While picking a game name was a simple, natural process, choosing a studio name was anything but. Eventually as the game and website started to take shape I just needed to pick something. Even then, meaningful ideas were few and far between and a quick google search would identify that all (both) my cool name ideas were already taken. In desperation I started looking around the room for inspiration, still google dashed my hopes (who'd have thought there was a Toast Games?) until I eventually settled on Rubble (I don't live on a building site, it's the title of a game asset I had open at the time). The rest is (very recent) history.