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Powerup

I haven’t been writing so often lately, that isn’t because nothing is happening, in fact quite the contrary. I am just too busy, which can only be a good thing!

So last time I was writing about how I needed to become faster at making stuff. Well it has started, here is the proof:HPPV

 

So there are still frame rate issues, but this came about due to a new “Springloaded” employee, his name is Chiny Kian, and he is Springloaded’s resident PSM developer.  He has been hard at work adding bits and pieces to the monogame build that my friend at TwoFiveSix in the UK has already had a hand in, turning it in to something that nearly does everything we need it to! Hiragana Pixel Party was always going to be the hardest, and it’s 95% done, I just need to optimise the frame rate a bit more due to some lazy code on my behalf. After that he will be diving into getting additive blending to work so Nuclien will also be complete.

Space Lift Danger Panic! Was submitted to Sony last week, let’s hope it goes through…(although I realise I wrote “Playstation Mobile” in the games text and not “Playstation Mobile ®” which according to their TRC’s means I will fail – but maybe I will get lucky)

I am off to Casual Connect Asia next week, if you are coming along you can come to my little table and play some games (including a very early demo build of “Tiny Dice Dungeon” if you are lucky!).

I have never exhibited before at an industry event, so I hope I don’t do something unbelievably stupid, but it does mean I have finally sent some business cards off to the printers, and even some other stuff like this postcard:

Postcard

The business card was quite a weird one, first I put my job title down as “intergalactic corporate commanding director of videogames” then I changed it to about 100 other things, before settling on the bland and predictable “Game developer”. Seeing as I hope to meet some people that might help me out, I’d rather not put them off with my stupid humour. Even though it entertains the hell out of me, I suspect some people might assume I don’t take things very seriously from reading that.

I also considered the role of “Founder” and saw other people in similar positions write things like “Director”, “CEO” or something equally fanfaresque, but for me it just seems wrong, While maybe I am technically the founder, it seems premature to go around shouting about it…

Space Lift Danger Panic is also finally out on your Windows Phone! Download it – it’s cheap as free….

Springloaded is one year old

I haven’t posted in a few weeks, because I have been unbearably busy…you see I have been trying to get the RPG a little further along…but, I still have a long way to go…

Recent goings on:
• My bike was stolen – so finally I found out that crime really does exist in Singapore, and I spent nearly an hour discussing it with a Police officer, and even got a call the next day from the detective in charge of my case…all for a bike!
• So the logical next piece of news will be of no surprise…Two weeks ago, I went out and bought a new bike.
• I finished my second semester at Digipen…
• Springloaded went past its first year anniversary!

One year of going it alone:
The original plan was that I should make a game every month…so I should have twelve games out by now… but no it’s only five (with another two very deep into long production cycles).

Did I fail? Well the fact I didn’t release all those games means I missed some opportunities to learn things about the market, but what I did learn pretty quickly is that I should be trying to make bigger better things rather than just throw whatever I make out there and see if it strikes indie-gold.

My desire to try and catch up with this 12 game target meant that I released things like Atomic Test Pilot, which is really about as simple as a game can get. It isn’t terrible, it just doesn’t offer enough for anyone to want to play it for more than five minutes…so I now realise that I probably should have made it a bit deeper before releasing it (something I will do for the Playstation / Ouya version if I ever make it).

Over this last year, everything I did taught me something that I can use to make better choices and achieve more in future. Because of that this has been one of the most rewarding years since I started in this industry.

On the negative side, it’s been stressful, and I often questioned whether I did the right thing. Despite making games for Springloaded, and working part time in a local studio, I feel like I have stepped off the games-industry ladder. I no longer have a big name company on my CV, and am not working on one of those high profile titles that will make adolescent males weep with excitement.

However despite these concerns I feel now more than ever that the industry we all worked in is pretty much gone. With so many large studios closing, it’s a scary time to be working for a company. It would appear their competition is from smaller more agile teams who can keep up with the trends and change course quickly. This lack of reactivity is the thing that slows most large companies down to the point where their products become irrelevant or obsolete.

So I am in the best place to be, it’s just very scary and lonely right now! But my current plan is to try and change all that.

I think that the best place to be currently is with a publisher who can help you cut through the noise of the marketplace and offer you support and advice when things get tough.

I feel like there are some similarities that can be drawn with the record industry. When MP3’s first appeared, and bands could sell their own music on the internet everyone loudly proclaimed that this was the end for record labels. The same happened with the app store, however looking at music, we know that all the biggest artists are still those that have the support of major record labels (with very few exceptions). I am not ignoring the fact that the music industry has gone through huge problems, in much the same way that we are seeing the games industry doing the same now. But, if a guy in his bedroom makes a record, or builds a game, chances are no one will ever hear about it. In the case of  game, what happens if it actually starts to gain momentum? Will that guy in his bedroom have the resources at his disposal to properly react to that success? For me I know that marketing is hard, and the thing I enjoy the most is thinking about game ideas and then making them. I know I need to study the market, follow trends and make games that as many people can enjoy as possible.

I also need to be more powerful to react, the games I am building are still in step with the market, the RTS has things in common with FTL, but innovates on a number of levels (I didn’t realise it was like FTL when I started making it, someone pointed this out to me recently). FTL is a huge indie hit – it also isn’t on iOS, no doubt Zynga or someone equally ruthless is out there figuring out how they can profit from someone else’s idea. So buy the time I am done with my game, the moment may have passed…therefore I need to be quicker.

Anyway, I have plans to try and fix all of this (the first of which I should be able to announce next week) – so wish me luck!

Over this year I shed some large chunks of naivety, and am now hopefully ready to start taking bigger strides in the right direction.

Anyway, I made a video that highlights the accomplishments of these first twelve months:

Cheese Before Bedtime

So I need to make the “About” post move down so it is no longer at the top of my Blog…and the last hour or so seems partially worth writing about, even though I was asleep for most of it.

So I was with three friends from the UK  in a house in the woods, and we had all rented sports cars, we wanted to drive through the new forest in a convoy, I had a pagini zonda, while my friends had a lamborghini, and a BMW…anyway eventually it was time to drive them, we all pulled out very slowly and carefully, however my car was now a TR7. Upon pulling out I clipped a wall, then driving at about two miles an hour I tried to drive down a curb into the road…suddenly the curb was 10 feet high and my car did this slow motion roll but landed right side up and was OK, so I got out to make sure no one eles did the same thing. Waving frantically one of my friends tried to turn round but fell off an even higher edge rolling his car multiple times…he was also OK. I looked at the damage on the TR7 and wasn’t too worried because the paint layer was actually just sitting on the frame like a skin / item of clothing, which could just be lifted off and swapped for a new one.

So after a while we pulled up in a car park next to some old cars from the 1920’s. Monkeys suddenly jumped out of them, laughed, disappeared followed by their cars exploding with bright yellow cartoon drawing of dynamite sticks appearing in the centre of the explosion. Clearly this was a ploy for monkeys to try and damage our cars more.

It turned out that we were actually at the site of an old Monkey Show place where monkeys would entertain all comers with who knows what. I knew the I or one of my friends had been responsible for its fate back in the 1920’s and what we were seeing was actually not real, but a haunted old building. Venturing inside knowing how angry the monkeys were I then saw a couple standing in corridor after the foyer.  The man was telling the woman how much he loved her, he got on one knee and then selected a song from the jukebox it was stairway to heaven. then as they spoke, Vincent Fernier walked in (Alice Copper) wearing a suit, which made me realise that if this was the twilight zone he would be the guy narrating it, before I realized what had happened, stairway had morphed gently in to I Love the Dead (by Alice Cooper) and I thought it was cool that they’d put his song in the TV show, even though he wasn’t playing as Alice.

We went outside together, however when I looked back this was my house in the mountains protected only by a fragile wooden fence. He told me something about how my house was going to be haunted for a little while, and that many bad things were coming. We walked over to a vista, the sound of drums building up (awesome 1970’s classic-rock drums) I looked over the vast misty rain forest ahead of me and saw a 600 foot tall Jar Jar Binks sitting at and equally large drum kit playing away. He stood up but the drums carried on, “ah they made a mistake in the editing” I thought. Then I looked to the left to see there was another Jar Jar who had picked up the beat on another drum kit…this carried on until I could see about 7 of them…

Lara Croft was suddenly there, which reminded me I should probably buy the new Tomb Raider game, she had a pistol, and was talking to someone about selecting targets (this was a long way from me, but I could clearly see and hear everything because this was a cut-scene) She then spawned in to the level / TV show / my house or whatever it was on to a raised platform just in front of us. Vincent now had a rocket launcher, it was as if he knew this was going to happen, I thought he was telling me about the evil Jar Jar’s so he could help me. No he just blew Lara up…I thought to myself well that’s weird, but not as bad as the dream I had before this where I was fighting against going to prison for three months because I used a TV source selector box incorrectly….

So yes that was the dream, it was over and I lay there thinking I should probably wake up, then when I opened my eyes I heard a dramatic musical sting…like the ones in batman when they reveal the villain…the thing was I really heard it, this was real. Then I heard what I thought was someone plugging in a phone and that freaked me out so I jumped out of bed…the phone was just a message being received…but the mysterious music heralding my entry in to the day with dramatic orchestration?…who knows (I suspect it was someone in another flat but the sound just carried weirdly well)

Still dazed from the crazy dream and the dramatic wake up moment I opened the fridge to get out the milk, woh! there something on the top of the milk…argh shake it off…it must be a piece of lettuce… but no, on closer inspection it was a dead gecko, he must have hoped in to the fridge, or been hiding in something I put in the fridge…but now he was sadly no more than chilled foodstuffs. So yeah my dream was really crazy, but my waking moments managed to help blur the edges of being asleep and being awake…and now I just feel terrible about the gecko (and the fact I probably have to throw things out from the fridge) but mostly the gecko.

 

 

About

Mosque

Springloaded make games for iOS / Playstation Vita / Android / Windows Phone / PC and whatever else appears in future.

I have been making games for around 15 years, having worked on over 30 shipped console games, the majority of which have been on handheld Nintendo platforms.

My career so far has placed me primarily in the role of producer and lead designer. Having worked externally on projects with EA, Sega, Namco, Atari, Midway and more I have been exposed to many different working styles and understand the importance of getting things done.

6 years ago I moved from the UK to Singapore to take up a position at Lucasarts. While at Lucasarts I becoming an expert with Unreal Development kit, and worked as lead designer on several large scale projects.

In 2012, I left Lucasarts to pursue Indie game development. Having a skill set that includes programming, music composition, and art makes solo game development perfect for me. I think of the miusic and the art throughout the design process allowing me to make what hopefully feels like super-cohesive game experiences.

Right now I make games in whatever genre I feel offers the most interesting opportunities rather than being tied to one area. One of my goals is to eventually make something that conveys emotion, and hopefully has an important message for those who play it.

Towards the end of 2012 I obtained 2 positions to keep myself off the breadline, I am now working as the creative director at a small studio focused on serious games, and teaching game design at the Digipen Institute Of Technology. While it keeps my bank from eternal emptiness, it also means I don’t make as many games as I could.

Using monogame and a few extra bits and pieces I have framework that allows me to release my games on several platforms: iOS, Android, Playstation Mobile, and WP7, and I am hoping to expand that list to include Ouya, Windows and Windows Phone 8.

I can be contacted via james@springloadedsoftware.com

Tiny Dice Dungeon

I haven’t posted in a while, since I have been really busy working on a million things at once.

Tiny Dice Dungeon is coming on pretty well. I have been working on it for just over a month now, and I decided to focus on the first five minutes, which means doing the tutorial. Tutorials are a really painful thing as they reach into all kinds of areas of game code. It can all end up kind of messy.

but it’s looking pretty good, maybe next week I will be able to stick up my prototype video from the end of my 4 days of intensive working on it, and a comparison to what I have now.

The interesting thing is that I am trying to do something fun with it that maybe will convert into a marketing thing. Over on Facebook there is a “Tiny Dice Dungeon” page, and I am taking suggestions for monsters. People describe things, and then I draw them and put them in the game, along with the persons name in a kind of monster imagineers list…its cool its fun for me to see people ideas and try and draw them, hopefully its fun for people to see me draw their weird stuff. Take a look at the examples below (click them to read the descriptions)

 

Facebook004Facebook003Facebook002

 

This game is slowly getting quite big…I wanted to make something small that would be complete in 4 days. Turns out I am an idiot for thinking I could do this in that time. Actually maybe I could have made the original idea in four days, but I think it would be a shame not to do all the cool extra stuff I want to do.

Also – I resubmitted Space Lift Danger Panic for windows phone 7, seeing as it failed on an audio issue…but I can’t see what would stop it this time.

My friend Florian left the country for new pastures yesterday, which kind of made me sad. I hope he has a good time in Canada, for anyone who has never lived away from their home country, its a situation all us “ex pats” have to get used to, you end up making friends with other expats, not that you intend to, it just ends up that way. Then they all have to leave the country at one time or another.

 

Nuclien Rush

So I actually 95% finished nuclien rush, but my iOS-stress meant I didnt ever upload it…A few weeks ago I got a mail from apple saying I needed to upload it, or they would remove the listing. So I got it up and running this weekend (kind of) and realised it wasn’t really the best game in the world, if I was making it again now from scratch I would do some things differently…this left me with a choice release it as it was, or go back and give it some care and attention later…I opted for the later. Even though I had built the store listing, microtransactions, achievements and highscores I decided I should redo that work once I went back to the game later.

Today I got this email…I had missed one important point – the fact that now I can never upload a game with that name again! crazy hey! it brings up an interesting dilemma, If I say publicly announce a game (like mini space war) I feel the prudent thing to do is go and register it so no one else can be an ass and take the name of my game…turns out that is a bad idea if your game is going to take any long amount of time to develop. I am OK with this, however if it happened with space war, or dice dungeon, I’d be really pissed off. Still it drives people to finish things i guess! (I am also thinking if I wrote to apple nicely I am sure they would reinstate the listing for me – it was just a bit of an unexpected twist on top of the de-listing)

 


Dear JE Barnard,You did not upload a binary for your app, Nuclien Rush, during the 180-day grace period. As a result, the app has been deleted from iTunes Connect.

This app cannot be restored, nor can you use the App Name or SKU for any other app under your account in the future.

App Name: Nuclien Rush
App Version Number: 1.0
App SKU: NUCR

Two out of three aint bad

I think that’s the title of a Meatloaf song.

But yes 2 out of 3 months into my stupid self professed mission to submit 10 new things.

if you remember last months round up it stood at 9, but really 6, because you can’t really count Amazon (because its just one line of code different)…

So what’s new!?

  • iPhone
    Zero things – I ported Heart Beaten, but I couldnt get the UI View to open (still) so I did nothing….
  • Google Play
    Heart Beaten 1.1 (with a new progression system)
    Nuclien 1.0
    Space Lift Danger Panic! 1.0
    Space Lift Danger Panic Pro (no adverts)
  • Amazon
    Heart Beaten 1.1…again
    Nuclien 1.0
    Space Lift Danger Panic! 1.0
    Space Lift Danger Panic Pro (no adverts)
  • Playstation Mobile
    Zero things 😦 their tools are driving me crazy…I have actually regressed on this platform.
  • Windows Phone 7
    We have a new entry on the platforms! this week saw me submitting Space Lift Danger Panic! with advertising support to Microsoft!

Even though that’s another 9 , I think it’s fair to put it at 4 (dismissing the Amazon stuff and the “pro” versions of Space Lift Danger Panic….)

So technically I hit my target of 10 submissions already, ahead of time and all that stuff….but it’s really a big old cheat, because there is so little new stuff on there.  in fact while last month saw two whole new games unleashed into the wild, this month saw nothing but ports and one decent update (to Heart Beaten) So next month I need to get my shit in gear…because the one year anniversary is just around the corner, and I need to get some more titles under my belt between now and then.

In food related news, I ate Kiwi Berries this week, they are kind of like Grape sized Kiwi’s with no fur and slightly fleshier skin…were they good…I guess they were easier to eat, a bit like seedless grapes. But that said I think a lot of the texture that makes a kiwi interesting (the crunchy seeds, fibrous core etc) was missing…so I’d say stick with real kiwis, unless you are lazy, or don’t want to make a mess with having to eat something in more than one bite.

KiwiBerries

 

 

Cheap as free….

So what is the outcome of dropping the price to free this weekend on Nuclien?

Remember the goal was to try and impact Android download figures by bringing awareness to the interwebs…

iOS wise Nuclien managed to get to number 19 in puzzle games in the US, and 136 in all apps in the US.

In Kenya we it got to number 5/56 overall, where it stayed for a while, which took 5 whole downlads to achieve!

all in all I got 20, 191 downloads across the world! hurrah.

Here it is at 147 in all apps…primed to overtak Temple Run!

freenuc

Yesterday I put the app up to $2 finaly removing the “half price launch sale” text from the start of the listing! and I earned $8 which is a quite a bit more than I have been getting from it over the last months. I think the most I ever made from it was $3 one day…

Anyway. Android – I emailed a few sites, but no one featured it (so far) The only place I found a direct impact was on facebook where “I love smart women” with the 3000 likes shared the iOS version then the Android one…

https://www.facebook.com/ilovesmartwomen

What does this mean? well I have 27 downloads / 22 Active user installations…making it my thrid most downloaded game on the service! go go go Android! we are at 70 active installations now…maybe if we all hold our hands together and wish real real hard we’ll make 100.

This week I should release it (and some other games) on Windows Phone 7….let’s see how that does! Oddly I read that the blackberry is actually the most profitable OS after iOS….

Nuclien Returns…

To Android!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.springloaded.nuclien&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5zcHJpbmdsb2FkZWQubnVjbGllbiJd

As I mentioned earlier this week, Android figures arte pretty bad for me, so today marks m first attempt at actuall promotion.

1 – I emailed a load of folks…

2 – I dropped Nuclien to free on iOS, in the hopes that all those extra hits on the web / twitter etc will help it rank higher in the google play search results for puzzle games….at the time of writing, Nuclien is number 84 in th iOS: puzzle game: free charts…I have no idea what that means really, I guess tomorrow there will be a better picture of how high it went. App advice featured the game on their apps gone free app, so that helps!

puzzlechrt

Anyway time to get on with the next thing, as I have no idea what else I can do at this point to help nuclien on Android along…

Vegetarian Food-Danger Panic!

THE PRESENT:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.springloaded.spaceliftdangerpanic&feature=more_from_developer

This weekend saw the release of “Space Lift Danger Panic!” on the Android, and to not break with tradition I have had my worst Android launch yet (each game get’s progressively less downloads than the last). There is a paid version too at $.99 which currently has no sales (I didnt want to be my only customer)

AndroidAmazon is much the same…

amazon

So how much money does that equate to!?

AdMobSo Android is killing me right now, I simply don’t understand it at all. When the numbers are that low, it isnt because the games are bad, it’s simply because no one knows about them…not enough people have played them to even know if they are bad or good.

Tomorrow (probably) I plan to release Nuclien on the Android and see what happens, but from looking at this it will probably be a similar story. I now understand why Android comes second place in peoples development priorities…I always thought developers were being idiots by ignoring a potentially bigger market, but it seems unlike iOS there is no middle ground there is either “big hit game” or “nobody will play your game ever” type games.  All in all a pile of piss.

Obviously next up is Hiragana Pixel Party. however I have a file loading issue that I can’t for the life of me solve….which is going to hold it up for a while (I need a fixer buddy to look at it for me)…

THE FUTURE:

I am feeling pretty good though, I think Dice Dungeon and Space War have the potential to do really well, they will be up there with HPP and Nuclien, but hopefully a bit more commercial….even if they arent, the other things I am starting to think about have even more chance of commercial victory….I feel like I am selling out piece by piece! but the games I plan to get onto still have a indie soul so I wont feel ashamed, and I will be damned if I am going to go the microtransaction grind route with any of my games…It makes sense for a game like Mini Space War to do it, but I can’t bring myself to take advantage of people like that. If I ever do create a “hit” I need to sure I can sleep at night….

THE PAST

My 2 days a week vegetarian Febuary is in full swing, and it isnt going so badly. However the vegetarian luncheon meat I bought the other day ranks up there as one of the shittiest products I have ever put in my mouth (yes worse that the fish sperm)…

Note the pictures doesnt look as bright as the actually product packaging with is luminous pink, and incredibly unappetizing.

LM_001

No use by date!

LM002I opted for frying it:

LM003So the verdict? well it tasted of five spice seasoning, which is a flavour I have never really understood…it was like a sponge filled with hot oil…and even with that much chilli on top (as seen in the wrap image) I still couldnt figure out what to like….