Archive for February, 2011


So naturally the first of hopefully few problems has popped up right at the start haha Turns out the animation tool is not quite as easy as I was hoping it’d be to get running. I figure down the road when I have all the kinks in this workflow hammered out, I’ll be able to follow the ideal schedule (while the programming is being done, I can start designing and doing the art for the next game and just check on the builds daily to test for an hour or so)…but for this first game I’m going to be hand-holding the thing all the way to the App Store to learn the ropes.

So right now a few frames vanish or flash, and we’re just taking a look at it. Because a lot of the work is included in the animation files instead of hard-coded, the problems can be either on the coding side OR on the art side. This means we have to keep in communication a little more, and I need to look at builds as we go, but it also means we have both of us testing the bug out and looking for a solution instead of just Derek having to handle it all. A lot of times I can look at it and go “oh, the frames are probably disappearing because I messed up this part of the anim file, I’ll check it out.”

It’s looking like most of the errors are just from nuances, like layers needing to be named starting from 0 instead of 1, or the file needs a keyframe at the start and will glitch if there’s no keyframe there, etc. I’ve got support for Additive blending, but originally thought it was Screen blending so I had to go back and change those to get the glowy stuff looking right. All tiny little things, just a lot of re-working and re-touching up!

- Quickdraw

Well after 41 days we finally get into actual game development! It took a lot longer than planned, but as a solo operation there was a lot of miscellaneous business things to take care of beyond just drawing the art. Marketing, Tweeting, E-Mailing, writing the GDD, buying the necessary hardware/software, updating the blog, etc. plus on top of it I still have my business course once a week that eats up most of the day. Fortunately some of that stuff only needed to be done once, and I’m slowly getting it down to a daily routine but it may be a couple months before I fully achieve the scheduling I’ve planned.

That all said, BAM:

Finally got the ninja on the iPhone haha He doesn’t do anything yet but loop through an animation, and he’s not using the right sized version (this is the iPad art on an iPhone 4) but the ninja is on the phone, dammit. That’s progress! haha

From here on the updates will probably be shorter because I expect progress to happen fairly quick as the game comes together. There’s still a lot of work to do, like the title screen and menu art, and finding some sound effects, but it’s all good. I’m hoping this’ll be done and on the App Store by the end of March!

- Quickdraw

Well it’s been a helluva weekend! In the midst of dealing with the replies from the freelance sites and tightening up the Game Design Document, I got chatting with with Derek of Ravenous Games (Ravenous just released League of Evil for the iPhone, go grab it it’s the best old-school 2d platformer on the system!  And hard as hell haha) and he said he’d be interested in the project.  So in an unexpected turn of events, a few E-Mails later we decided to team up!

I was fully expecting to go with someone off the freelance sites, or a big programming group in India but this was too good a chance to pass up. League of Evil is awesome and Derek and I knew eachother from waaaaay back (probably 10 years ago now?) in my Tsugumo days.  I’m paying him the full amount that I can afford right now ($2500), plus 20% of the royalties.  He’s cutting me a good deal on his skills because we’re friends and go back, and he figures this’ll be a quick time-filler project he can flex his programming muscles on and get some practice working with another artist. I like to think that down the road we’ll all be making a comfortable enough living that we can take projects with eachother based less on the pay and more on “how fun will this project be to work on?”

Also, Derek is a fellow Canuck, go Canada! haha

All I’m hoping to make off this game, to consider it a “success” in my mind is:

- $3000-ish to cover its dev costs

- $600 for paying my rent

- $50 for a black & blue seared on the outside raw on the inside honey roasted garlic top sirloin 10 ounce steak with two sides of melt-in-your-mouth garlic mashed potatoes and a diet Coke

So $3650-ish total. If I can make that off this game, I’m a happy guy. Anything past that is awesome and wonderful, but totally a bonus in my mind. I figure the cross-promotion of Ravenous Games and Bulletproof Outlaws will be good for both of us, I’ll throw links to his games in my game and we can both promote the game on our sites. Another reason to give developers a cut of the royalties is that it gives everyone incentive to promote the game since we all benefit haha

So we’ll start actually devving tomorrow! I’m cleaning up the GDD, removing all the stuff that didn’t make it into the final design and explaining more thoroughly the parts that did.

- Quickdraw

So today I wrote up a bit more detailed version of the project, basically the list of core features for the game. I have the full GDD done but I don’t really want to hand it out all over the place, especially when I know I’m only hiring 1 out of like 6 people for the project. I’m not bothering with Non-Disclosure Agreements because, well, I’m writing all about the game on here as it is…it seems kind of silly to worry about an NDA. Hell if anything, I WANT my programmer to talk about the game and promote it as we dev haha Everything is happening kind of fast, I’m juggling E-Mails and stuff on top of still working on the art, so I’m just kind of winging this right now. Anyway, here’s part of the follow-up I sent out:

It will need to run on iPhone 3, iPhone 4 (retina screen), and iPad. Cocos2D is supposed to easily detect a retina screen and choose the retina art assets, so it shouldn’t be hard to support both the iPhone 3 and 4. Art and animation files for all 3 screen sizes would be provided.

These are the main components of the project:

- Getting the art to show up

- Making the ninja slide to the player’s finger

- Spawning objects randomly (need to be able to adjust what spits out when over time, so the first 30 seconds throwing-stars come out 100% of the time, the next 10 seconds throwing-stars come out 90% of the time and dynamite comes out 10%, etc.)

- Detecting if the objects are hitting the player and taking the player’s lives away

- Playing music and sound effects (some of the sound effects would need to be random (so it will choose between 5 different sound effects for the ninja shouting, etc.))

- Timer counting up and saving out the final time to a Leaderboard/Facebook/Twitter

- Menus (standard stuff, quick Retry pop-ups, Options menu, etc.)

- Sound Test (this can just be a default simple screen like the iPhone’s “choose a ringtone” page)

- Pop-up window encouraging reviews

- Play the logos and title-screen

And that’s it!

I figured this would be enough to get a general estimate (2 weeks, a month, 2 months, etc.) so I can figure out who to go with. I’m looking at spending around $2000-$2500 for this. It’s really not a complicated project when you break it down, especially if the programmer has already made games with music/sound, logos, menus, etc.

- Quickdraw

Wow, talk about a gongshow haha In one day I received probably 20 responses to the job postings. Some of them were spam (clearly not at all qualified for my project and sent a form-letter E-Mail), and probably just send a message to every job posting that goes up. A few were legit, but from people who’s portfolios didn’t have any games in them. I learned working in the industry that there’s a difference between application/tool programmers and game programmers and I made sure to specify I needed someone who’s made games before.

When you tell an app/tool programmer “Make the ninja jump X height”, you get back a game where the ninja evenly slides to point X then instantly starts sliding back down to the ground. When you tell a game programmer “Make the ninja jump X height”, you get back a game where the ninja slides up into the air, his velocity slows down at the height of his jump, and then speeds up again as he starts to come back down to the ground. It’s not that an app/tool programmer can’t do that, it’s that it’s not their first instinct. Kind of like the difference between people who are good at math VS good at writing, it’s just a different mindset/outlook.

So I had to turn those guys down, because their portfolios were a bunch of website designs and “To-do List” apps and stuff. I imagine there are a lot of people who just see the iPhone market as being so huge and easy to enter that they learn some basic programming skills and then hire themselves out, and the projects they get are basically connecting some menus together and showing some numbers, nothing too crazy. And hey, whatever works, the people making simple apps are happy with that as long as the job gets done, I’m sure. But I know that this project will be more involved so I don’t want to risk wasting time.

In the end there are about 6 possible candidates so far. I E-Mailed the ones I’m interested in to let them know “hey, just letting you know I dig your portfolio and I’ll send you more details on the game in a few days so I can get a rough estimate and make a final choice of developer”, and declined the ones I’m definately not into. I figure that way the ones I’m into will know I saw their stuff, and the ones I’m not won’t E-Mail me asking if I saw their portfolio yet.

I’m going to write up a summary of the game in a little more detail and send that to them!

- Quickdraw

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