Indie Game Dev Rollercoaster
I’ve talked to a lot of game dev’s over the years. Now that I find myself in the same shoes, I am realizing a lot what they say is really true. I’m talking about the long hours, the self doubt, the frustration, the costs, the delays, the ideas that just aren’t right, the constant shameless self promoting that goes on with it. It just keeps going and going and going…When does it end? I am can make it all go away if I just quit and go for a bike ride or skateboard or something.
In the old days, if you were an artist or worked in some professional trade, if you did great work, people would notice. There wasn’t much competition. Not to say that famous painters back then were lazy…I mean that in the sense there were only a few good artists around then and that meant if people wanted to see art, there was a much better chance of getting seen. Today, there are numerous sites devoted to indie game devs to help them promote the games they are working on. The market has become slightly saturated. It is getting hard to get noticed. Even more distressing, it is at times getting difficult to find games you liked because it gets buried in 100 other games on a review site. YouTube channels are popping up daily. It is reaching critical mass.
I frequent a Windows Phone forum a lot, and one of the recent threads started off “What does WP need to do to be successful?” My first comment was “What is the criteria for success?” After being corrected..my next comment was “What is the criterion for success?” After I appeased the great lord of the grammar world, we began to have a discussion on this topic. Was it phone sales? Was it approval rating? Was it Market Share #s? No one could come to agreement on this.
When trying to apply this to indie games, I ran into the same issue. What is a successful game? One you finish? The number of downloads(legal and illegal)? The amount of cash you generate over your costs? Just people saying it is cool? This is something I need to define early not to let myself down later.
My only advice is to take a lot of breaks, keep your mind agile and don’t stagnate. If you have to take a couple weeks off, do it. Get your mind back on track. Don’t be overwhelmed by the PR and the hoops you jump through to get your work out there. If it is something you love, chances are it will loved by someone else. Unless you are a total asshole. Don’t be an asshole.
So a game thats blown up in the past couple months is called Minecraft. Now put aside the constant need for updates and the controversy with Terraria and other indie games popping up before and after minecraft that had fan boys screaming rip-off from both sides, minecraft is a game that can go as far as Notch (the developer) can take it… which over the past month or so some people have started doubting he can… But how much can we expect from this “notch” ? Well, thats the thing. We just don’t know. So why not give it a chance… Give notch a chance, because with this game comes a lot of thing other games cant bring all at once… Excitement, adventure… COUNTLESS hours of adventure (boy don’t I know it), and how limitless the possibilities are weather its a mod an update or just what you can build with you imagination. Go on a Quest for diamond or a monster dungeon, Create that dream house, and make it rain! Or just kill pigs, sheep cows…chickens? Cant come up with anything creative? Well download an adventure map and see if you can go through the trials other minecrafters have set up for you.
Hope you’ve enjoyed or will enjoy this game!
Everyone gets Bling!
The Merchant has opened his shop and celebrates the opening by giving all players up to 250 Blings each! In the shop there are several discounted packages as well as many, many individual items, spells, mavens and even resources. New players will also get some Bling to boost their game!
Background performance and physics.
When you start off making a platformer, you only need a few objects. A player, a platform and some enemies maybe, or maybe just traps.
The background can be pretty simple, repeating and maybe you throw in some parallax for good measure. One problem I have run into is the problem with complexity and performance. For most platformers you save a lot of memory space with repeating tiles. Super Mario brothers is a prime example.
Where the cloud and the bush are the same object just with a different color fill or mask on it. My issue was that I found the amount of tiles I wanted to use became somewhat overwhelming. This along with the fact I wanted more complicated mechanics such as physics etc. When you have 50K tiles with physics and many different kinds, it starts to become difficult to manage. To save on CPU at the expense of memory I decided on a different approach. Map out the levels in a tile tool, export the level as a PNG and then put that png into the game. I then add a few boundary tiles to make it look like the backgrounds are really solid. It is an illusion. Next step to help with memory management was to break up the background into smaller chunks. I am still looking for a way to manage these chunks as a larger level can be 50-100 chunks. You end up with pieces like this.
About the Polytron Machine and the Endianness Problem
This is going to be a bit of a long introduction, so please bear with me. While following tutorial 3.5 of Ray Wenderlich’s wonderful iOS tutorials, I hit a point where I needed images in my iOS Simulator. Easiest solution? Open Safari in the Simulator and start “saving images”. To accomplish that, I hit one of my daily sites, Ars Technica, and stumbled upon a recent article on Fez. I did get a picture out of that article, but the best part was really watching the video. Please do it; I cannot spoil it for you.