Category: Studio News

Bulletproof Outlaws…and here…we…GO!

Welcome to the Bulletproof Outlaws website. If you came here from yarrninja then you may have been following my progress as I complete a business course and start this game studio up from scratch. This site will contain development blogs for our games, behind the scenes snippets, explanations of my marketing attempts, etc.

This site will be updated regularly and I will be publishing the cold hard numbers both in profits and expenses, good or bad, so that other people considering breaking into the game industry can get an idea of what to expect.

This month I’ll be fleshing out Game Design Documents for a handful of game ideas. I’m going to be starting with really small projects, with 3 week development times. I believe the best way to succeed in the iPhone game market is to pump out a bunch of small, polished, “simple but fun” games instead of putting all my eggs in one “magnum opus” basket. Once we’re financially stable, we’ll increase development times and game complexity.  That said, the first order of business is to flesh out a few short simple game ideas this month.

Here’s how my creative process goes right now:

1) As I’m walking around going through my day, I look at stuff from a game design perspective. Riding the bus in the morning I think “man, riding the bus at rush hour sucks, I can’t even sit, we’re all crammed in here like a can of sardines and the bus driver is STILL trying to stuff new passenger in! hmm…I wonder if that would make a decent game…say you’re a bus driver and you have to cram people in and decide how many to take at new stops and the people are different sizes and stuff…I dunno, bus driving isn’t very exciting. Maybe you’re a robot stuffing parts and gears into a machine to get your ship working so you can fly away before the planet hostiles get you?  There might be something with that concept at the least, having to fit and rotate various sized/shaped objects into a pre-defined space quickly. Oh wait, that’s Tetris actually. Crap, back to the drawing board!”

2) Whip out my iPhone if I’m out and about or laying in bed and open Evernote and jot some notes down into my “Game Ideas” note. I use Evernote because it’s free, it has a mobile version that’s quick to load up, and it stores everything “in the clouds” where any system I log into Evernote on, I can grab my notes. So I can be drifting off to sleep or sitting on the pooper and jot down “- dinosaurs wearing top-hats and flying helicopters. 2d side view. Helicopter controls like swimming in Mario 1. Rockets can be upgraded. Something involving lasers as powerup or boss??” and in the morning hop on my desktop or go downtown to my “office” and flip open my laptop and I can access that note with no fuss. I can tweak it a bit and the changes happen on all my platforms. Way more convenient than carrying around a notepad and if I ever lost all my CPUs somehow, the data would still be safely stored in the clouds.

3) Every few weeks I go through this list and create a new Page for each game idea in a private Google Site. At this point I’m just throwing the jot note blurb in. I use Gogle Sites because it’s free and in the future I’ll need to link the information to whoever my employees end up being so this is nice and convenient. Ideally down the road I’d like to have an internal site like that where everyone in the company can post up little game ideas and we can all add comments and ideas and flesh some of them out into do-able games we can actually make.

4) These game ideas are divided into categories of development time. I have a ton of ideas that would be great but would take 3 or 4 months to make to their full potential. Right now I need simple game ideas I can do in 2 or 3 weeks so as much as I may love those bigger ideas, they’re gonna have to sit on the shelf until I’m in the 3 or 4 month dev time range and I’ll have to get thinking on some smaller games to stay on track. Someday I’ll get around to those games, I’m in no hurry…I feel it’s important to stick to a plan even if emotionally I may be eager to work on a bigger project.

5) Over time as ideas come to me or as I sit down and doodle concept art, I’ll flesh out these jot note ideas out into larger and more detailed descriptions…designing the game mechanics, character ideas, marketing ideas, etc.

6) The first few days of each project will be dedicated to taking the fleshed out ideas and formatting them into an official Game Design Document along with concept art and such. This will be an organized document (I’ll probably create a template to use) that I can hand to the programmers and anyone else on the project so we all know what we’re working on and the final vision is clear. At the start I’m probably going to be working over the Internet with cheap programmers in India or something, so the more detailed the GDD is the less confusion there will be during development.

I plan to start actual development in early January, so December is going to be dedicated to finishing this website up and writing up the first couple GDDs so I can hit the ground running next month!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy the site and our games! This next few months will be exiting…I’m finally going to live out a childhood dream haha

Stay tuned!

- Quickdraw

Over the years I’ve put away a little money here and there for the possible future start-up of a game studio.  It’s not a lot, I’ve got about $20,000.  If I needed more, I could tap into a Line of Credit at the bank ($15,000) and max out my credit cards ($5,000 on one, $10,000 on the other) for a theoretical grand total of $50,000.  I’m not opposed to going into debt (if the Cut the Rope devs went $10,000 into debt, I’m pretty sure they’d be cool with that considering they can pay that off a dozen times over), but I’d prefer to avoid it…thus the slow saving up of a bit of money each month toward my start-up $20k.

So what’s it cost me to start up?:

About $10,000, to start up in luxury, using legit copies of Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, etc., testing devices all the way back to the older iPod Touch, money toward tools/audio, having actual business licenses, etc.  The Office Space cost is just 1/3rd of my rent, and I’m throwing in brand new devices instead of cheaper eBay’ed ones.  I’m using webspace I already have, but I could set up a free WordPress site and use that for $0 so I didn’t throw it in the list.

Having a desktop and laptop is excessive but I already have a desktop and as an artist this laptop is phenominal:

If you’re an artist, I can’t recommend the Lenovo X200t enough.  I wanted to make sure it was powerful enough to run Photoshop, After Effects, etc. decently so I added some RAM from the default 2GB, and I went with the normal pen-touch screen instead of the multi-touch (you can use your fingers and squeeze them together to zoom in, etc. like a Mac) because the multi-touch costs more and really I don’t need that…I just need to be able to draw.

So according to my receipt mine has:

- Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 processor LV (1.86GHz 1066MHz 6MBL2) (no idea what this means, but it’s fast enough)

- 12.1″ WideView SuperBright LED backlit WXGA panel (the screen is great, nice and bright, though I DO find that I have to tweak the Saturation slightly when I’m done painting because the colors sometimes look a little too intense when I bring it up on my desktop)

- 3 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 (2 DIMM) (I don’t even really know what this means.  It runs my programs fast is all I know, haha  there’s no lag between sweeping the pen around and the line appearing, and I routinely have WinAMP, Photoshop, MSN, an Internet Explorer browser, etc. all running at once with no problems)

- 160GB Hard Drive (tons of room, and I’d just get a USB HD if I needed more room)

- X200T 8 Cell Li-Ion Battery (lasts about 4 hours at full brightness, but often I like to dim the screen so I’m not staring at a neon glowing screen whlie I draw…I make the background canvas color darker too, as you can see in the pic above.  Gotta’ protect the ol’ eyesight!)

- no modem (I left it out to keep it light-weight for comfort holding it on my lap or cradled in my arm, and I’m always around Wi-Fi)

- I grabbed a Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX for about $90…to me that’s expensive for a mouse, but holy crap was it worth it.  This thing works on ANY surface, so I don’t have to worry about a mouse-pad or reflective table surfaces etc.  I can run the thing on my thigh if I’m feeling ultra lazy haha  Plus it’s got a super tiny USB plug, there’s no inch-long USB sticking out of my laptop making me worry it’s going to snap if I try to balance my laptop on my crossed-legs when I’m sitting on the couch…it’s this tiny little nubbin’ that I just leave in the laptop 24/7.

Lenovo was having a sale at the time (I bought it in November 2009, might have been a Christmas sale) so instead of $2,600 this came to $1,800 but I Googled for HOURS looking for coupon/savings sites and found a coupon code (CAEBTSSAVINGS) that saved me an epic $365 for a grand total after adding GST of of $1,500-ish.

It’s got a mouse nubbin instead of a touch-pad which I dig because I hate how much extra room a touch-pad takes up design-wise…I like my portable products portable.  All in all this is a fantastic laptop and as an artist I love it.  I consider it an artistic investment…with an art program on it, there’s no reason this computer wouldn’t be just as functional in 20 years as it is now, in terms of being a portable full-color drawing pad.  I actually find myself using this laptop more than my desktop…basically everything I’ve done related to this business (from documentation, to signing papers, to setting up and updating the website, to doing the logo art, etc.) has been done on my laptop.

Okay so say I wanted to do this for cheaper.  What could I cut out:

Just the core testing devices (odds are if it runs on an iPhone it’ll run on an iPod Touch so I don’t need a Touch, but I need an iPad to make sure the game looks good and the UI feels right and such VS the iPhone), and the cheapest Mac laptop.  Audio can be done for free (royalty-free music from around the net, doing my own sound effects, etc.).  If I hire programmers in India or wherever, I can get programming for a lot cheaper…logically quality probably suffers, so I don’t think I’d want to make a huge complicated project, but that’s just something to keep in mind when I’m designing my games.  I could just use Paint.NET or The Gimp for art instead of needing Photoshop but I love Photoshop so to me it was worth buying, plus I get After Effects and Premiere for doing video/trailers, and Flash for vector art/animation, etc.  I can work out of Starbucks like 2d Boy or mall food courts like I currently do and not have to pay for office space.

I could do it for even cheaper I’m sure.  When you have no money, $4,000 seems like a lot.  But if you consider that you’ll throw that kind of money at a 55″ HD TV, an X-Box 360, games, etc. on your credit card, at least this has a chance of paying itself off haha  It’s just a matter of priorities.

The numbers above are all estimates, but it gives a rough idea of what it costs to start up.  A lot of people still think you need to raise tons of money or go around asking dozens of investors to take a chance on you to get into the game industry.  But seriously, an Apple dev license, a Macbook, and the appropriate business permits and you’re good to go.  Hell, if you’re not an artist or programmer, you can just design a game and outsource people to make the whole thing for you.  In the future everyone’ll have their own apps/games on App Stores haha  If I had a teenage kid, I don’t see why I wouldn’t encourage him to develop a game and throw it up there…as long as it involved ninjas and explosions instead of being a fart soundboard haha

- Quickdraw

Shooting for efficiency!

I figure since I’m pretty much a one-man operation at the moment it’s a good idea to streamline what I can. If I was just an artist my task-list would be simple: draw a pirate, make him slash his sword, etc. Unfortunately, because I’m in charge of “everything” that means mixed into the standard art task list I’m going to have extra tasks: create a press kit, write press release, create and upload gameplay trailer, etc.

So two of the first things I’m going to do in this vein are creating a template Game Design Document and a marketing to-do checklist that I can cut & paste as a starting point when I begin a new game. The marketing checklist will be easy…for the most part that doesn’t change: write a press release announcing the game, create a trailer, send out promo codes, etc. Pretty much every game can follow the same plan…the checklist is basically to remind me “oh ya, we’re halfway thru dev, time to make a behind-the-scenes featurette!”

The GDD, however, will be harder to template. When I worked in the industry our GDDs were designed to be pitches for landing projects so they were bloated with an overkill of “speaking to a child” information. “What is this game’s target market?”, “Why will it appeal to that market?”, “How is this game different from similar games?”, etc. Useful info if you’re a publisher considering a project pitch but a waste of time for a small developer working on independent intellectual properties…you wouldn’t guess it from the length of my posts but I cant stand inefficiency haha

Another aspect to consider is that I will probably end up hiring programmers in India or somewhere (any Cocos2D proggers out there looking for work? haha) so my GDD will have to be extra-specific to avoid language barriers. The more I can specify, the less risk of confusion and tweaking down the road. I figure I’ll even be writing parts of the GDD in pseudo-code for stuff I’ve got worked out in my head like “parrot flies to pirate’s X-position and when within 10 pixels of it the parrot plays it’s LandingOnShoulder animation”. It’s more work than just “the parrot follows the pirate and lands on his shoulder” but it should result in less tweaking. I’m pretty notorious with programmers I’ve worked with for saying stuff like “can you move the textbox 2 pixels to the left?” haha

Goals for the end of the month are to have the first game’s GDD finished and templates for a bunch of stuff (press releases and directory structures and such) so that I’m good to go January 3rd. I’m also going to need to set up some SVN stuff. So much work just to start making games haha

- Quickdraw

Hey, everyone! As of today I am FINALLY done all the art assets needed to release League of Evil 2 for iOS (universal app, it’ll run on pretty much any iDevice you have, even the really old crappy ones). I’m about to take a massive snooze and then down a bunch of unhealthy celebration food haha I wonder how long it’ll take for my “energy drink stream” to turn back into a “blood stream”. I’m literally counting 7 empty Rockstar, Full Throttle, and Xyience cans just on my desk, just from this final crunch-time weekend. It was all worth it though! The game is awesome and I think it’s going to sell like crazy once word of mouth spreads! I’ve been working pretty much non-stop for like a month now while we’ve been focused 100% on finishing LoE2 up, so I’m probably going to take a week off and just relax and then get back to blogging, Tweeting, and figuring out what’ll be next for Bulletproof Outlaws.

For now enjoy this sweet trailer…I love the epic music haha:

There’s a thread on Touch Arcade with more info and some answers to random questions. MAN I love the end of a project when everything ties itself all up and comes together…That final click as you submit the last of the assets is like a massive weight on your shoulders is just obliterated into a million gibs, ahhh…now bring on the celebration pizza & wings! :)

- Jeff

I’m writing a bigger “What’s happening and what’s coming up for Bulletproof Outlaws?” post, but I just wanted to update quick to say that I’ve made Elusive Ninja: The Shadowy Thief 100% Free forever on the App Store! Granted, if you’re a reader of this devBlog then you’ve probably already bought the game to help keep me from having to sift through dumpsters for food, for which you have my eternal appreciation and I apologize for pulling the rug out from under you by now making it Free, please don’t hate me forever haha If you’re a reader and you didn’t buy it, why do you hate me so much? You monster! How will I afford to send my kids to college?? I mean, I don’t HAVE kids, but if I did I’m sure they would be devastated.

Anyway if you haven’t tried Elusive Ninja or League of Evil 2 out yet, give ‘em a go!

BAM! I’m back! I actually forgot how to log into my blog, it’s been so long…how embarrassing lol Alright, so here’s a super-brief summary of what’s been going on: the Zombocalypse Kickstarter unfortunately didn’t pan out (though since then Ironzilla found funding and they and Juicy Beast have teamed up to develop Zombocalypse 2, so keep an eye out for that!) and I started working with Ravenous Games again, on the next installment in the LOE series: League of Evil 3, launching on the App store today:

One drawback to keeping a devBlog when you’re an indie dev working on other people’s games is that with Non-Disclosure Agreements you can’t really talk about what you’re working on. Also the deadlines tend to be stricter because you’re working for someone else who’s determining schedules based on various priorities on their end, so taking time out to do quality blog updates with pics and such, and chatting on Twitter can start putting you behind on your work over time. I tend to be the type that likes to just stick his head down and plow through working without distractions because I get side-tracked easily, so that’s why I haven’t been updating much.

That said, I’m finishing up a little extra work left for LOE3 and I have a bit of completely non-game-related freelance work to do up, but then I’ll be starting on my own game. I picked up Game Maker: Studio a while back but haven’t had a chance to do more than mess around and learn the ropes and do some rough prototyping/tests. It’s a great program, and a lot more powerful than I expected. Vlambeer used it on Super Crate Box (which my good buddies over at Halfbot ported to iOS), Hitbox Team used it on Dustforce, Liam Barden used it on Ninjammin Beat-Jitsu and most recently Tom Francis used it on Gunpoint. You can make pretty much anything you want in it, and you can port it to other platforms pretty easily. All in all it’s really impressive gameDev software to an artist who’s overwhelmed by stuff like Unity and X-Code lol

I’ve got a game idea in mind, but I have to flesh it out some more and narrow down the details and all that. I’m hoping it’ll be a short little summer project, I’m doing it mainly to learn the full workflow of development to distribution via Game Maker, and I’ll post some behind the scenes stuff as I go. I won’t be doing daily updates like I did with Elusive Ninja because that was insane lol but I’ll do weekly updates.

That’s it for now! Time to go dust the cobwebs off my Twitter account and see what I’ve missed on there lol

Time for my annual update lol A few changes in my life since the last time I wrote: Last winter I hopped a flight to Ottawa to visit a friend for a few days and fell in love with the city. The amazing scenery, the unbelievably friendly people, the “big small town” vibe, the seemingly weekly fireworks shows, the beautiful French girls…I was instantly hooked. As I sat on my friend’s couch getting ready to pack for my flight back to Calgary, I day-dreamt about how someday it would be nice to live here in our nation’s capital. Then I glanced around and realized hey, I’ve got a backpack full of clean underwear and my laptop with me, what else do I really need? So I cancelled my flight home, spent a few weeks sleeping on my friend’s couch while I looked for an apartment, and had my few meager personal belongings shipped across Canada to me. As a single guy who has no kids, no responsibilities, and makes his living off a laptop, I figure it’s alright to make a drastic impulse decision toward new adventures now and then.

The incredibly beautiful city of Ottawa. Now that I live here I totally understand why this is our capital.

The other big change is a bit more personal, but hey I’m sure no one is actually reading this anyway lol The past few years I’ve been struggling with having low energy. It was difficult to even get out of bed, and I’d sleep through most of the day. It got so bad that I couldn’t stay awake for more than a 4-6 hours at a time before my eyes would get too drowsy to stay open and my head would get foggy and feel like I had been up for days…then I’d sleep for like 10 hours, wake up for another few hours, and then pass out again. It made it unbelievably hard to get anything done. I would basically be able to keep myself awake long enough to get my work done, but I would have to break it up throughout the day and it was a struggle. If I managed to get anything besides work done, like grocery shopping or doing laundry, I was completely wiped out.

I chalked this up to just being lazy and not having solid self-discipline. I’d read all these inspirational stories of indie devs who are working 3 jobs at a time and coding till 4am to bring their dream to life, and watch all these motivational videos on YouTube with guys shouting about how you have to forget to eat because you’re so busy working and you have to work while the other guys are sleeping and you have to be willing to stay awake for 3 days straight to become successful, and I’d just think “how are these guys DOING this?? I can’t even stay awake and focused for a full 8 hours in a row! If I was working a day job for 8 hours, I would come home and instantly collapse till the next morning. Why am I so lazy compared to everyone else?” I had all these good intentions of developing my games and getting them out there but just kept hitting this wall.

It was pretty frustrating…looking back it seems obvious that there was a problem but this all crept up on me slowly over a few years and I was just barely managing to work around it enough to get by and somehow managing to pay my rent, so I just kind of accepted that I was getting old or something and tried to adapt.

It wasn’t depression, because I was happy with my life all this time. I’m a pretty upbeat optimistic guy day-to-day and I don’t have much to complain about, so when I was awake I was psyched and ready to be productive and take on the world…but a few hours later I’d be curled up on my bed passing out.

Our cold dark snowy winter has just begun and a friend texted me to tell me to remember to take some Vitamin D because we won’t be getting as much sunlight. He had his Vitamin D levels tested and they were extremely low so his doctor had him load up on it. I didn’t really know anything about vitamins and was going to brush his advice off until I started Googling what Vitamin D does. I kept reading all these stories from people who were describing the same kind of problems I was having and how it turned out they were Vitamin D deficient and when they started taking Vitamin D they suddenly had a new zest for life.

Here's a giant mutant turtle for you for making it this far. This was from a game that didn't pan out...the dude hiring me vanished a couple weeks in without paying me. :'( But at least this guy was fun to draw lol

I was skeptical, but kept reading and realized that because I live in Canada and I’m cooped up in my apartment with sun-blocking shades pulled over my windows all day, and most of the time I work at night when the sun is down (I’m naturally a night person) and grab food at convenience stores in the middle of the night, and if I go out to a bar it’s at night, etc. I really don’t ever see the sun and don’t get any Vitamin D…and if my friend who works a day job, goes for walks in the sun now and then, doesn’t have any energy problems etc., is extremely deficient, then I must be even worse off than him.

So I grabbed a bottle of Vitamin D3 to try, and holy CRAP. I can’t even fully explain what a life-changer it is!

I’ve only been taking it for a couple weeks but even in the first couple days I noticed an immediate difference. I’m typing this blog post at the tail end of being wide awake and clear-headed for 16 hours straight which is something I haven’t been able to do in literally 3 or 4 YEARS. Like even the notion that I’ve been awake for that long today blows my mind. It was so bad that I have all these weird habits built up where like, after a few hours I instinctively FEEL like it’s time to go over to my bed to lay down and sleep except then I realize “oh wait, I’m not tired at all…wtf do I do now? I guess…I’ll…uhhh keep working? Is this how normal people live?? No wonder everyone seems so much more productive than me!” and then I just keep doing productive things instead of sleeping lol I went from consistently only being awake for a groggy 4-8 hours a day (with naps separating those hours) to consistently being awake for a sharp focused 14-18 hours a day with no need for napping. I feel like Bradley Cooper in Limitless where he’s suddenly tapping into his full brain-power. From my perspective it’s like time has slowed down, or days have extended in length because I’m now getting 3 or 4 times the day I was getting before.

This is basically me right now, except I'm obviously way more handsome.

If you’re reading this blog about gameDev, then you’re probably a nerd like me. And if you’re a nerd like me, then you probably don’t go run around in the sunshine all day like normal people apparently do. If that’s the case, hit your doctor up sometime and get your Vitamin D levels checked, especially if you feel like you don’t have much energy or if you get really lethargic and demotivated in the winter (which you might just have chalked up to Seasonal Affective Disorder and assumed you have to live with it). With the abundance of indoor cubicle jobs and the popularity of working from home these days, a huge portion of the population is said to be Vitamin D deficient and a bottle of Vitamin D3 is super cheap. Give it a try and see if it helps…the difference between my days now and just a few weeks ago is a complete 180.

It’s hard not to sound like a fanatic but man, if I had figured this out a few years ago I would probably have a respectable library of my own personally designed and developed games floating around out there. Can’t change the past so no point dwelling on that, but now that I’m firing on all cylinders I think 2015 is going to be an awesome year for me and my adventures in gameDev.

I’ve got some plans coming up for this winter, so stay tuned! ;)

Alright, time for an update. I hooked up with Rocketcat Games, makers of epic hits like Wayward Souls (grab it on the App Store here) and Punch Quest (grab it here), to do some Spine animations for their characters for a new Tactical RPG they’re developing. Lots of work but a fun project, I’m extremely comfortable in Spine now and got to mess with a lot of FFD mesh animation (capes, scarves etc.). I also hooked up with Ravenous Games for some top secret work I can’t talk about. They just launched Devious Dungeon 2 which adds a ton of new stuff to the series (grab it here). So with enough money to pay my bills for a couple months it’s back to my own game.

…but first, a detour lol On a whim I decided to enter Ludum Dare 32 this weekend. For those of you who somehow haven’t heard of it it’s a worldwide marathon weekend where you get 48-72 hours to develop a game based off a theme assigned when the contest starts. I haven’t done a game jam in years but my long-term plan over the next couple years involves actually shipping games (lol) which means I’ll be doing a lot of prototyping (I have a HUGE Evernote doc where I throw down any random ideas I come up with to flesh out later when I’m looking for ideas to prototype). Soon as I’m done my current game I want to roll right into the next one so there’s always a chance that whatever I come up with for Ludum Dare will be my next game. Or maybe I’ll fuck it all up and not even finish my entry in time, who knows lol I actually haven’t looked at the themes list, ’cause I like to live on the edge that way.

So if you want to watch me lose my fucking mind all weekend long, follow my Ludum Dare progress updates, setbacks, victory celebrations, mental breakdowns etc. on Twitter at @BPOutlaws. My Ludum Dare account is BPO_Jeff.

I’ve wanted to participate in Ludum Dare before (my buddy Mike is the guy breaking his back to run the whole thing) but as I mentioned in a previous post I was having a lot of problems with my energy levels for a few years. I was barely able to do more than sleep through the weekends. But now that I’m regularly taking Vitamin D3 I’m clocking in long productive days and want to challenge myself by entering. I’ll be doing the 72-hour Jam instead of the 48-hour competition because whatever I make is probably going to involve hand-drawn art so that gives me an extra day to make it look slick. Some of you may remember me as Tsugumo back in my pixel art days, but while I loved making pixel art the advancements we’ve had in technology that allow games like Rayman and Ori and the Blind Forest to exist, combined with all the slick tools us indies have at our disposal now, I can’t resist working with big HD art. I’ve coded my engine to support up to 4K (3840 x 2160) even though I don’t have a 4K screen myself lol

I wanted to make an alien race of giant goats to avoid just doing standard aliens...these sketches are just practice concepts changing the proportions of the basic goat design to get different characters that still look related.

That said, back on my own game I was having some creative issues so the break to work on other projects was helpful because it gave me time to brainstorm out some ideas on the art side. The major issue was actually kind of a silly one that I completely wasn’t expecting: because of the layout of my game (character on the left, enemies on the right, with as much space between them as possible to allow the Player time to react) I realized I needed all of my enemies to be tall and thin horizontally. If they were wide they would either cover too much of the play area (though one boss does that on purpose) or 90% of the sprite would be off-screen and basically be a waste. I also wanted to give things a sci-fi/mech theme, but you don’t realize how weird thin vertical mechs are until you try drawing some up and then realize they also have to be able to shoot from the three Track heights so if you make a humanoid robot it’s got to be able to shoot from it’s ankles etc. It sounds dumb, but it threw me for a loop for a while.

Now I’ve nailed down my theme and designs and while the game still looks the same as it did in my last update, I’ve been slowly plugging away at the code during my minimal free time and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Soon I’ll be able to go on a massive art overhaul and just start dumping art in there. At the moment I’m finishing up the menu system and coding support for game pads, iCade, etc. Doing a lot of stuff that’s way outside my experience level like setting up customizable keybindings and achievement lists and save/load encryption etc. Plus I want to release on iOS and PC, so there are a lot of platform-specific nuances to deal with (even simple things like on a touch-screen device you tap menu options but on PC those options need to visually light up as you drag the mouse cursor past them etc.). I’ve basically got 10 FireFox windows open with tutorials all day as I work lol I’ve learned a lot though, I’m looking forward to my next project where I would refine a ton of this right from the beginning to save some of the hassles I’m running into (like right now the menu system and gameplay are COMPLETELY independent from eachother so when you set options/controls in the menus they don’t do anything in the actual game and I have to stitch these two giant sections together…it’s gonna’ get messy [edit: nevermind, I totally fuckin did it my first try just now. I'm awesome lol]).

On the gameplay side I’m really proud of what I’ve come up with. I’ve got all the bosses except the final boss coded and each one requires a different tactic to defeat instead of just bumping up the amount of damage they can take…so the core mechanic the Player has to learn stays pretty simple, but each boss throws their own twist on it that you have to figure out as you’re fighting them and they each have 3 levels of damage where they change their tactics up forcing you to adapt on the fly. When I get to where I can record some new in-game footage I’ll show this off a bit more…right now the bosses are literally giant red rectangles lol I talked about some of my ideas for this in a previous post but now I have them fully implemented and they came out as fun as I pictured in my head…there’s a nice sense of “Yes!! I knew it, I’m awesome!!” satisfaction in that.

On top of all that I’ve started teaching myself how to use Blender whenever I get the chance. I’m hoping to learn enough about the particle system stuff in it to use it for doing cel-shaded effects but I am a complete noob so far. I’ll also be using it for more technical stuff like backgrounds or detailed mechanical objects in perspective where I don’t want to figure that all out by hand. I used 3d for the background in Elusive Ninja:

This was way too simple a game and did terribly, but I was always proud of the art in it lol

Gotta’ work as fast and efficient as possible when you’re working solo. Overall this year is going toward upgrading my skills across the board so I can put out quality games solo. Now to go stock up my energy drink supply to survive Ludum Dare.

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