Category Archives: News

Revenge of the Titans beta released!

t’s finally here… playable beta demo to download, and now available to pre-order at 50% final price!…

www.puppygames.net/revenge-of-the-titans

Our server is currently taking a massive hammering though, so apologies for the painfully slow download speeds – we’re looking into solutions

Update: server fell over! we have Windows version download mirror sorted now, but have had to restart the server, apologies again, we weren’t expecting quite such a massive demand šŸ™‚

Wallpaper of the Titans!

We will be releasing a pre-release demo of Revenge of the Titans very soon, honest…

In the meantime here’s a nice big pic (1280×800), ideal for putting up as wallpaper or desktop background or whatever you want to call it. If anyone wants particular sizes for desktops just comment away and your wish will be my command. As long as you say the magic word. And as long as it doesn’t involve me doing much work.

Click on the pic below for the full size image…

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Unfinished things – The Time Pilot / Uridium Project

Rummaging around in some dusty old project folders I came across these old mockups. Back in June 2008 we started work on a TIme Pilot ‘inspired’ game which was shaping up nicely, though we didn’t get as far as adding the Uridium style ships…

However, it felt severely limited by our old odd square format, giving you very little time to react to the enemy ships. We’ve dropped that now though and gone all widescreen for Revenge of the Titans, so maybe that wouldn’t be such an issue now.

The other problem was that it induced extreme motion sickness in a few people šŸ™‚ …

Would that put anyone off, or worth digging up one day… once Revenge of the Titans is all done? Titan Attacks 3 perhaps?

Rock Paper Shotgun Loves Us


Rock Paper Shotgun

… and we wuv them back, too, for they have interviewed me. And yes, I speak the truth, it does appear that we’ll have a pre-order demo ready in a couple of weeks, and it’ll be 50% off, and the full game will appear in the summer!

Best get back to the drudgery of the day job first though.

Bah.

The to-do list currently looks like this:

  • Alien stuck in corner of map inexplicably
  • Double music playing on start of world
  • Research screen
  • Twiddle story xml around
  • Research tree
  • Replay Level button on Game Over
  • Clearer “reloading” timers
  • Some unique landmarks
  • Shift-click on a building to switch to Build Mode using that building (if still available)
  • Increase barricade / mine limit with silos?
  • Add ammo counter to capacitors?
  • Medals screen
  • Show medals earned on complete level dialog
  • Put in a load of tips
  • Hiscores screen
  • Different sfx for factory shutdown klaxon, base attack, base critical
  • Bezerk effect
  • Freeze effect
  • Mars
  • Saturn
  • Titan

A brief history of TA2 part 2 – Monster Mash post-mortem

We had intended to write a game that would be a fun shooter, something that would appeal to ‘shmup’ fans and a more ‘casual’ audience – and we wanted to create a shooter that would feel natural to play with a mouse, and no keys. Titan Attacks could be played with the mouse but it had been tacked on at the end of development as an alternative to keyboard control, and the various mouse-only control schemes we tried with Alien Flux and Super Elvis aka Super Dudester either never seemed completely natural to us, or the ones we liked everyone else hated.

We also wanted to avoid scrolling, and not make a standard vertical or side-scrolling shmup, thinking that might put off a fair amount of people.

The problem generally was being able to handle both movement and aiming at the same time – to be able to move in one direction whilst firing in another. We sidestepped this by removing the movement element completely.

After a month of playing around with various ideas we had a pretty fun little game involving building up your defences with turrets, mines and barricades to protect your city blocks from an onslaught of funky gidrahs. Here, again, are the only surviving screenshots…

However, the game had several rather big problems…

1. We had a simple lighting system, with spotlights showing the tracking of automated turrets and under the player cursor. For this to look any good the levels had to be pretty dark, and grey. This left us stuck as to how to change background gfx sufficiently to show level progression, not helped by…

2. The fixed screen made things feel very claustrophobic, quickly filling up with buildings, the aliens appearing almost on top of them, and there was no room for any pretty background graphics.

3. We hadn’t really thought through any kind of level/world progression at all. The game was fun, but… it didn’t really go anywhere.

…and then Cas’ wife suddenly left him. And ‘crashed’ his brand new pickup truck into a tree. And demanded all of his money. Development abruptly stopped.

…and then a game of the same name was released (a generic tower defence game), after we’d mentioned Monster Mash on this here blog, many moons ago. An unfortunate coincidence.

Not that that should have made any difference, but when we did resume development we decided to start something fresh (on what would end up being Droid Assault) rather than tackling the above problems of our now nameless game.

To be continuedā€¦

…with less words and more pictures šŸ™‚ In the meantime, notice anything different here?…

I see colours! TA2 development video 2

Recently we’ve been updating the graphics to use a system we first tried in Droid Assault to change the colour of tiles and items for different levels. This time we’ve gone a bit further – now pretty much all the sprites are rendered out in shades of grey, and are coloured in-game according to a level palette, and these colours are also affected at the edges of the level by an attentuation colour and % value.

This lets us significantly alter the feel for every level without having to have dozens of different coloured sprites for the same object. Also objects can be excluded from the attenuation colour, giving a glowy self-illumination effect on night-time levels. Nice. Of course this would all be an effing lot easier in 3d.

More detail about such stuff in future posts.

Return to Titan

After a break for a bit of contract work we’re back on the case and we’ll have Revenge of the Titans ready for a Christmas release… hopefully this Christmas. We’re also playing with the idea of releasing a pre-order beta version like Cliffski of fellow UK indie Positech Games has recently done with the epic Gratuitous Space Battles. Anyone interested?

In the meantime here’s some work-in-progess pics showing the game in action in three different Earth settings…

Revenge of the Titans progress

Revenge of the Titans!

After many fevered, sweaty nights here in warm and humid Somerset, and probably a similar story over in Madrid where Chaz has been holed up for the last few months, I flicked the switch on FRAPS and the monster twitched into life. Behold! Some dingy low-quality video footage of the early stages of what will soon become Revenge of the Titans!

I’m afraid this is a fairly simple and benign level (level 9 in fact) so it’s not the most exciting level to watch. The game story progresses through five worlds – starting on Earth, which is basically the tutorial, and on to the Moon, then Mars, Saturn, and finally Titan itself. The background story is how Earth is launching a major offensive on the pesky Titans, and has to gradually secure each planet on the way in order to send the invasion fleet on to the next location.

On Earth, you essentially learn the ropes. Revenge of the Titans is quintessentially a real-time strategy game, based on the tower defence mechanic. At every step of the way from the beginning of the level you have to balance two opposing priorities:

  • Do you look around and survey the map, or just get building right away?
  • Do you build factories first and get production ramped up, or do you start by building defences?
  • Do you manage your factories or keep an eye on your turrets’ ammunition?
  • Do you build lots of little guns, or do you place just a few and enhance them with auxilliary buildings?

and so on.

The main differences between Revenge of the Titans and other tower-defence games are, as you may be able to just about tell from the video, that the gidrahs advance in an entirely freeform way, and your turrets once placed cannot be “upgraded”. Each alien has its own little brain trying to figure out the best route to get to your base (or whatever other building it may decide to attack… they get strategical on the later levels…). If a route looks pretty congested, they’ll start finding alternative routes and you can find yourself unexpectedly flanked.

The turrets are not directly upgradeable. This is a common theme in other tower defence games, but we’ve got a new mechanic. Instead you place a variety of little but expensive buildings down nearby them to augment their powers. Scanners increase their range; batteries increase their ammunition capacity; cooling towers increase their fire rate; reactors increase their reload speed. Some buildings have dual purposes. Reactors will, for example, increase the speed that factories produce money; they also increase the damage of capacitors, a manually-aimed weapon not shown in the video because I’m still coding the special effects for it. Shield generators can be popped down in later levels to give nearby buildings extra hitpoints. And you can lay minefields of different sorts and barricades of varying strength. And decoys to lure the gidrahs away from your valuable buildings!

All the while the game is automatically tuning itself to your abilities. Hopefully everyone will get just enough challenge to have fun. I’m trying to get it just right so that everyone can enjoy playing the game but really good players will score massive points.

I’m also thinking that the demo players who score the most points in a single game over a seven day period might just be getting themselves a free game. For all our titles. How’s about that for a bit of competition? Play to win a free copy šŸ™‚

True Fans and Making A Living

The ever-interesting Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software has a blog which I read whenever he writes a new and usually very interesting article. Today he’s posted an article about another article (and, ahaha, I’m posting an article about an article about an article) about that popular internet business meme of getting 1,000 true fans.

The gist of the nested article is this: with 1,000 “true fans” of your products, you’re able to make a living if you, say, sell to said fans a product for $25 four times a year.

Jeff wisely points out that extracting $100 from someone every year is probably a bit unrealistic. He doesn’t mention I think also the difficulty of actually producing four products a year worth $25. It ain’t gonna happen. It takes us 6 months to make a game. The current one has actually taken 4 years to write but that’s a story for another blog post.

Instead, a more realistic figure is 4,000 true fans and selling one thing a year to them.

I got intrigued and wondered just how many true fans Puppygames has. So I ran this bit of SQL on our database, which is a rough-and-ready indicator:

select email, count(*)
from registrations
where ordernumber <> 'special'
group by email
having count(*) > 2
order by 2 desc

And it tells me that we’ve got 74 customers who have bought 3 or more of our games (at least, using the same email address, anyway). Bah. So we have 74 true fans by that reckoning, in 6 years of writing games. Only another 3,926 to go. That’ll take another 320 years or so.

And yet more Droid Assault!

Whilst working on our new game (do you remember, many moons ago, we had a game called Monster Mash? Well, it’s still under development, and edging closer to being fun), I cut ‘n’ pasted the A* pathfinding algorithm from the multicore brains in Droid Assault into it. The A* algorithm is used in two places in the new game: in the first instance, to ensure that your bases are accessible by at least one enemy spawn point; and in the second instance, so that the gidrahs will trundle towards the base.

The map in the new game – OK, let’s call it Monster Mash even though it’s not called Monster Mash any more – is randomly generated every level. It’s a pretty trivial random generation, which simply involves starting with a map of solid rock, and then carving holes out of it between the bases and spawn points, plus a few other random holes. The end result is pretty nice, with results ranging from about 50% rock to 90% empty. Then we plonk down up to 10 bases which you have to defend (+1 base every 10 levels) – if any one base gets destroyed you lose. And then we plonk gidrah spawn points around the edge of the map, and a few in the middle on the later levels.

Before it approves the map, the generator checks to ensure that every base is accessible to at least one spawn point. We do this by just plotting the path between them using the A* algorithm pinched from Droid Assault.

It didn’t work.

I removed some more of my remaining hair in a violent thrashy motion for a couple of hours.

“How could this be? It’s been working fine in Droid Assault for a year!” I ranted.

Except, of course, it hadn’t. It had been broken all along. All those lovely multicore droids you’d been capturing, hoping they were worth the extra points just because they had the best brains, never worked properly. It’s a miracle they ever managed to find any enemies. In fact it’s only because they have a backup brain that switches to direct attack when enemies are in direct line-of-sight that they ever got around to attacking anything.

So: it’s fixed. And while I was at it, I changed the way flamethrowers inflict damage – it’s more immediate, and the burn time is much shorter. And slowed the wear rate of droids down a little bit so you can keep them a bit longer. Enjoy the new version! Grab versionĀ 1.6 directly from Puppygames.

Chaz is going to do a bit of work on the graphics for Monster Mash over the next week or so, and as soon as it’s worth showing everyone, we’ll pop up a screenshot.

New Version of Droid Assault

We just released Droid Assault v1.5 which fixes some of the biggest moans people have had about the game! I spent this morning playing the game and tweaking all sorts of little things. The general result is a game which is slightly more manic, very slightly easier in some respects, and slightly more fun. Here’s what I did:

  • The number of enemies on each level increases slightly slower as you progress through the game, but carries on increasing for much longer. Levels now have up to 48 enemies on them! Quite insane firefights result.
  • The droids under your command now start the level slightly more spread out, which might get them into more fights right at the start instead of wandering uselessly in a little room.
  • The droid under your command wears out considerably faster that in did before. Booo! That sucks! Except for…
  • all of your droids are 100% repaired at the end of every level! The information screen between levels now shows their “worn out” hitpoints versus maximum hitpoints allowed, rather than how beaten up they were by blaster fire on the previous level. This means you should be able to keep your favourite droids alive for much longer and you’ll eventually have a much bigger army of cool droids!
  • The boss tended to drop powerups which weren’t much use to you at the end of the level (shields, recharges). It’s now much more likely to drop better powerups.
  • The length of time between resetting the combo destruction bonus has been increased from 1 second to 1.5 seconds. This meansĀ bigger combos, and thereforeĀ more transfer points!

These changes sound like small fry but having those droids kept alive longer lets you get further into the game and therefore you’re going to haveĀ even more fun! If you haven’t tried out Droid Assault yet, or even if you have but it wasn’t quite right, give it another go and see what you think.

Droid Assault a winner in Game Tunnel 2008 awards

2008 Action Game of the Year

Droid Assault recently picked up 4th place in Game Tunnel’s 2008 Action Game of the Year awards, making it our third in the Action Game category.

For those not familiar with the Game Tunnel Game of the Year Awards this is the 6th year they’ve been running, an always entertaining review of the very best Indie games in a range of categories – action, sport, sim, rpg, puzzle, adventure and strategy – always worth checking out for the odd gem you might have missed. Cheers Russell!

Gravitron 2 Now Available on Puppygames

We’ve just added Gravitron 2 to our tiny catalogue of games. It’s a great little retro game reminiscent of Thrust on the C64, and at $5 (Ā£3.50) it was just too good to leave alone! I bought it myself a couple of weeks ago and it’s the best vector graphic gravity based retro shooter I’ve played all year – in fact I liked it so much I thought we’d offer it up to Puppygames customers too. Expect one of our exceedingly rare mailing list letters in your inbox imminently!

Have a look at the tasty video of the gameplay if you’re not convinced:

Droid Assault 1.2 Released

I just released the latest version of Droid Assault, fixing three niggles that have irked players. This is what’s changed in the new 1.2 release:

  • You now unlock levels after completing every five levels. This means you can now start just after any boss or danger stage! Hurrah! So when you get really far you won’t have to start quite so far back in the game, and you’ll gradually get to experience all those really vicious droids in the later levels!
  • The flamethrower equipped droids now actually shoot at the enemies when you’ve captured them. They used to just wander around aimlessly and get blown up.
  • And last but not least, the smarter robots now flee from bosses to the best of their fairly limited ability! It’s not foolproof but it might keep them alive a little bit longer.

So there you have it, go snag the latest version and enjoy!

Droid Assault released!

The robots are here! It’s been a while coming, but we’re pleased to finally announce the release of our sixth and most ambitious game to date – Droid Assault…

The droids are malfunctioning – it’s your job to destroy them all!

Droid Assault 1.1 screenshot

Infiltrate the Omni-Corp warehouses, capture droids using your transfer beam and build up a small army of bots to assist in your mission. Along the way, modify your droids with upgrades and powerups, discover a whole range of advanced weaponry including disruptors, laser beams, rockets and flamethrowers, and fight your way through boss battles and special challenge stages too.

Version 1.1 contains a few fixes and tweaks – we’ve increased the contrast between spaces and walls, tidied up the help screen and balanced out some of the droid stats.

more screenshots…

Continue reading

Time to clean up the hiscores table

Lately we’ve been rather miffed by the amount of really bad language on the online hiscores table (and what we thought was cheating but turned out to be a MySQL driver glitch).

NowĀ hearĀ this:Ā theĀ onlineĀ hiscoresĀ tableĀ isĀ viewedĀ byĀ childrenĀ and we’re really not going to accept any more of this stuff any longer. You will find yourself banned permanentlyĀ (and all of your hiscores deleted permanently too) if you abuse the facility.

We get a lot of complaints from concerned parents about this. If you’re a concerned parent, you may be pleased to know we’ve finally implemented the hiscores cleanup feature to get rid of the stuff you don’t want your kids reading. Also, the latest versions of Titan Attacks and Ultratron now have an option to completely turn off online hiscores for good measure – see the Options screen.

Only an email of the most grovelly kindĀ will get us to unban you.

You have been warned.

Ooooh what’s all this then?

So… what’s become of Treasure Tomb?

Well, it’s another one of our unfinished projects temporarily on ice. Treasure Tomb is going to take a lot of work before we reckon it’s awesome enough to release, in the form of level design and loads more graphics. In fact I suspect there’s another six months work left in Treasure Tomb, and in the meantime, once again, we are broke šŸ™

But… what’s all this?

Droid Assault Screenshot 1 Droid Assault Screenshot 2 Droid Assault Screenshot 3 Droid Assault Screenshot 4

Yes, that’s right, it’s another game we’ve been working on in the meantime! We started mid-December after realising that Treasure Tomb was just going to take us too long to complete before we became utterly skint. The rationale behind it was to create a game that used as much code from Treasure Tomb as possible so it took the absolute minimum time to write. Of course the code bit doesn’t necessarily really take nearly as much time as the graphics and sound bit but there we go. In order to keep the costs down we’ve done more silly Ultratron style graphics and got a single tileset built in layers that we can colour differently.

So… what exactly is this new game?

Well …. back in 1985 a rather brilliant game for the Commodore 64 came out called Paradroid. We all read eagerly about its imminent arrival in Zzap64! magazine, which published a diary over three months of the programmer, Andrew Braybrook. Andrew Braybrook is a really nice guy. Once upon a time when I was a wee bairn I wrote to him asking how to do raster interrupts on the 64, and he wrote back with four pages of beautifully handwritten script, including 6502 machine code (also handwritten!).

When Paradroid finally turned up we all rushed out and bought it from the shops – I think it was Ā£8.95 on cassette. And it’s a truly awesome game!

You can play what more or less amounts to a perfect clone of Paradroid with this remake, Freedroid, which differs only in that you use the mouse to aim.

Anyway – we’ve given Paradroid the same treatment that we gave Space Invaders and Robotron. It’s been Puppified, sliced, diced, and aweseomificated beyond recogntion, and it’s going to be released on to an unsuspecting Indie gamer scene in about a month, which is just as well as that coincides with all my money running out.

Treasure Tomb Development Diary!

I started a development diary over on the javagaming.org forums. Go and take a look and comment if you so please.

I would have done it here, but seeing as it’s more of interest to developers and nerds of all sorts, I thought it would reach a wider and more interested kind of audience over on JGO.

Scunthorpe

The online hiscores tables in Ultratron and Titan Attacks have recently been plagued by naughty potty mouth people filling them with all sorts of profanity and unpleasantness. Well, that’s not very nice, is it? Especially as I know who’s done it as well.

A few parents have complained, rightly so, about the profanity, and so the hiscores server has been tweaked in a similar manner to the web page. It’s easy to defeat of course but it’d be nice if you just kept the bad language off the hiscores and remember that we’ve got 5yr olds playing the games too.

And no, it doesn’t cope with Scunthorpe very well.