Category Archives: Diary

Postcards from Basingstoke 001

To celebrate being 2 years old, more or less, we present a new series of random images from Basingstoke development. One a day*, every day of the year*, perhaps for all time*

Challenger1-and-Landrover-Defender

* OK, so 3 today to get the ball rolling, might be one a day, might be more, might be er… less.

* apart from at weekends and bank holidays, spring breaks, summer breaks, xmas in general, new year, family visits, weddings, sick leave, shore leave, feeling a bit under the weather, flooding, acts of god, technical problems, being hassled by cats, being lazy devs etc.

* or until we’ve finished it :)

fieldcommand
Challenger1-and-Landrover-Defender-2

The Easter Bunny Visits Basingstoke

Hello watchers and lurkers! We don’t often do a blog post, so when we do, you can always be sure it’s going to be something interesting. This time, just in time for the Easter holidays, we have a little sneak peak at what’s been happening in Basingstoke since the Titans dropped a neutron bomb on it and killed everybody.

As you can see from the video things are coming along nicely. We might even finish it this year! Or at least release it.

The video shows a few new things in it which you’ve not seen before, like the gidlets, which are those cute little swarmy things; and zombies, which are what happens in Basingstoke after about 11pm whether there’s been a neutron bomb or not – an occupational hazard of living there; and there are some nice underground sections with sewers and metro station.

What do you mean Basingstoke doesn’t have an underground railway? This is the future, silly! Of course they’ll build an underground railway. And yes, kebabs will cost £10 in the future too. I know – scary.

Welcome to Basingstoke

Chaz and Alli have been beavering away hard on our new “roguelike survival horror” game, Basingstoke, and now’s the time to show you an official teeny sneak peak of the game so far. Feast your eyes upon the video, and then read on, with the caveat that everything is in developmental flux and subject to changing beyond recognition at any moment…

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Resurrection

Well, it’s time for one of our lamentably infrequent blog entries. So much has happened since the last one I can’t even think where to begin.

Whither Battledroid?

Alas, woe unto Puppygames, for we are broke. Due to several decisions of dubious merit last year we’ve ended up wasting most of our cash on things that never flew. We tried for several solid months to rescue our direct sales but it seems nothing but nothing that we can do will change the fact that at any given moment, Steam comprises 97% of our income. And that’s just when there isn’t a crazy Steam sale on. So we wasted months on that and achieved precisely nothing.

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Battledroid Alpha Sprint #4

Otherwise known as, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Deadlines and Fail Gracefully”.

Ok, that’s a little melodramatic.

We were doing quite well on the sprints but then Real Life decided to place a series of embuggerances in our way. I notice that the spelling checker in WordPress doesn’t understand “embuggerance” but I assure you, it is a word.

The plan for this sprint was:

  • Fix all the bugs we know of (there were plenty of issues with focus and tabbing and mouseovers, and one or two other little minor glitches)
  • Steam Integration – a full Steam version of all functionality. Steam is actually not so hard to integrate as it sounds as we have an awesome Steam integration library ready-made from our previous games, and mostly it involves removing functionality that we’ve implemented already in the game for Puppygames customers.
  • Serverside housekeeping batch jobs – make accounts dormant if they’re unused for a month, etc. That sort of thing. In addition the subscribers actually needed to be charged on a regular basis (not that we’d actually enable it at this point – it just needs to be there)
  • The last messages widget on title screen needed wiring up, with the associated event polling stuff all working between clients and server
  • And the last actually exciting feature, the Commander Screen, in which you can adjust your display name, personal avatar, army colours, change manufacturer allegiance, and request to join a faction. As well as placeholders for stats and medals.

Well, in the end, all we’ve kinda managed to do is:

  • Fix the tabbing/focus/mouseover bugs. Except, infuriatingly, checkboxes
  • We can log in using Steam and get our avatar displayed but sadly that’s as far as we’ve got
  • The Commander Screen is visually coming on very nicely but none of the functions are wired up to the server yet and it’s not fully integrated properly yet at all, more like Chaz just trying it out first than actually functional.
What’s Our Excuse This Time?

Well, mostly, this is all my fault, because Mrs. Prince is terribly ill and I’ve basically had to take almost the entire sprint off work to look after her and the kids, whom I can assure you are a pair of devils sent to torture my mortal soul. Right now she is in hospital and everyone is very upset though the prognosis is good. I don’t know particularly how any sprint survives contact with a quarter of the team suddenly stopping working in a completely random manner, but there we go.

The next thing is that Chaz’s Windows installation has somehow managed to blow up this morning and he’s going to have to reinstall his OS, which means at least two days down the drain for him too.

Finally Riven’s mouse has died. Not his squeaky one, but his old faithful electronic one, the one he uses to point at things on screens with. This makes Windows extremely difficult to operate, it would transpire.

Whither Now?

Well, I don’t think it’s really worth releasing Battledroid this sprint because we’ve barely got anything done on it – I think it really needs another week of work on it when we’re all firing on all cylinders so to speak – so we’ll leave it. Which brings me to the exciting news of what’s happening next week, which is that we will all be exhibiting at EuroGamer Expo 2013 in Earl’s Court, London, between September 26-29! Once again we’ll be giving away two brand new Nexus 7 (2013 models) as prizes for the best hiscore we have recorded in Ultratron and Droid Assault come Sunday evening. I’ve got a new Nexus 7. It is awesome. You need to come and play.

As we’re basically all away all next week and then a couple of days to recover, I wouldn’t expect much visible progress till Friday 4th October.

 

 

Battledroid Alpha Sprint 3, thoughts on F2P

So, we actually got this one out bang on time. So on time there wasn’t quite enough time to actually write a blog post to coincide with it before we went on our summer hols :)

Important!

  • There is nothing to play yet – we’re concentrating on the user-interface and back-end stuff
  • Previous bugs are not fixed – such as tabbing not working – we’re working on fixing those now

What’s New?

This sprint was all about getting registered players to become premium subscribers, and finishing off the account maintenance functionality. So now you can subscribe or unsubscribe at will, and you can delete your account. Additionally the options panel, which wasn’t meant to be released until today but got released last week instead, was supposed to be in the sprint. So here it is :) Have a play with the GUI scale function and marvel at how awesomely clever our UI layout is. But first let’s explore the new functions and talk about them…

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Battledroid Alpha Sprint 2

So, here we have the latest Battledroid alpha release, the second so-called “sprint”. You will notice it is lamentably already 4 days late – way to go guys! We’ve clearly not quite got the hang of this agile development malarkey.

Firstly, anyone who does not yet have the client already can get it here:

Battledroid for Windows
Battledroid for Mac
Battledroid for Linux

If you’ve already got the Battledroid client, you don’t have to redownload it – it should update automatically with the latest release like the rest of our games.

Known Issues

Expect to encounter…

  • tabbing doesn’t work in forms
  • scary security certificate warnings from emails

What’s New

In this sprint we wanted people to be able to register a guest account, change their email address, change their passwords, reset password if they forgot it, and log out again. We wanted the titlescreen UI to behave fully correctly, (less library bugs that is) and its design to be more or less finalised.

Well, we did all that, but we’ve also implemented the Options panel as well, which wasn’t supposed to be in till next Friday. Graphics options are a little more expanded upon from previous games, and check out the cunning GUI scale feature. The GUI will also automatically scale if you go below 4:3, meaning the game is perfectly playable on a monitor set up in portrait mode.

Anyway – if you could, we’d like you to test out the registration and login processes, and the account management functions. You will notice a scary security certificate warning if you click on any links we send you from the Battledroid mailer, but that’s because we’ve not got proper SSL certificates in place yet.

Also, if you would care to click on the second tab icon at the top – world map – you’ll get an early test of our new sprite engine. Though not completely optimized yet, we’re currently testing with 60,000 dynamic sprites on a background of 1 million static sprites. Middle mouse wheel will zoom, hold RMB to scroll, LMB to paint more sprites!

And… first cut of a theme tune – work in progess – open options and slide music volume to 11 :)

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Battledroid Alpha and Development Diary

Ladies and gentlemen, may I proudly present to you… the Battledroid Alpha! Available for all OSes (not currently on Steam but we’ll see about that).

Don’t get all excited now! What you see before you once it’s installed and run is just the title screen. We’ve got a seriously hectic schedule coming over the next 4 months, during which time we will release a new build every other Friday, and the development diary. Our ultimate goal is to get into beta with a minimum viable product by 22nd November 2013, at which point we will be seriously running out of money and unleash our Kickstarter project upon you all, to get the game finished and full of content.

The title screen may not look that exciting to start with but this is how we make our games: we get all the really boring stuff done first, because it has to be done, and once it’s all out of the way while we’re all fresh and full of energy, the only stuff left to do is the fun stuff, with lasers, robots, explosions, and stuff getting blown to bits! (Years ago I realised that leaving titles and menus and options till last is a recipe for misery, demotivation, and failure to complete a game).

As it currently stands, the title screen automatically creates a guest account to play Battledroid on our server, and that’s pretty much all it does right now. Most importantly however is whether you are experiencing anything out of the ordinary, like rendering glitches or connectivity issues. We’d like to hear your feedback, even as this early stage, allowing us to take it into account as we’re working on the next alpha.

In two weeks’ time, at the end of Sprint 2, expect to see the next round of functionality being added to Battledroid, which is account registration and management functions like the ability to change your email address, set a name for yourself, reset your password, etc. – more dull stuff. But important dull stuff.

Codename Battledroid

So… work is underway on our new game. I’ve called it “Battledroid” for now (ahem), a name which may or may not stay. I quite like it. So by way of warning, there now follows a wall of text explaining everything.

What is Battledroid?

Battledroid is a massively multiplayer asynchronous online war fought over the blasted and war-torn landscapes of Earth in the not entirely distant future a few centuries from now. At war are various ultracorporations (whom we shall call “factions”), who vie for control of territory in order to boost their own manufacturing capabilities. Everybody who is sensible has left for more peaceful pastures in the rest of the Solar System, leaving the wars to be fought by giant armies of autonomous battledroids.

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Rezzed

So I went to Rezzed with @Cliffski (and Mrs. Cliffski), ferried there in a state of mild car-phobia induced air conditioned comfort in his spaceship-like Lexus. I couldn’t tell you what Lexus it is, just that it is black, and has batteries in it to make it go, and a charming electronic assistant lady called Lizzy who tells Cliff where to drive. I also managed to figure out how to transmit music from my phone to the car, and forced Mr. and Mrs. Cliffski to endure my “eclectic” musical tastes. I notice that most of the music I listen to has what graphics people might describe as a “high dynamic range” – that is, it has quiet bits, loud bits, bits with low frequencies, bits with high frequencies, and mostly every combination in between. It turns out that this is crap for cars, as you can’t really hear anything, and this probably explains why nearly all modern music is just a massive irritating wall of sound – because the only place most of it gets listened to is on car radios. Anyway, I digress. This is what we did when we got there:

Indie Stone

We went to see a talk by the Indie Stone of Project Zomboid fame (I’ve been doing some things for them). We were nearly as surprised as they were as the room was packed out with hundreds of people (a show of hands in response to a question from one of the, er, Stoners, showed that maybe 90% of them were fans of Project Zomboid). Anyway – the presentation was of course quite funny, detailing as it did how not to set up a studio and have several disasters. We make our own luck, as the saying goes :)

I was going to throw tomatoes at Lemmy for forgetting to mention me but as he was visibly shaking like a leaf with nerves decided that would be a bit mean. My time will come! I think it’s time I did a talk at one of these talk things, having amassed all sorts of interesting bits of know-how and wisdom about the industry, games, and coding in general.

Borderlands 2

We wandered around and looked at all the man-shooters on display – still strangely the most prevalent sort of game at computer game shows. There were also a rather large bunch of indie games there but unfortunately my largest and most vociferous organ was telling me that I had to go and eat, so we didn’t hang around and play any of them for any significant length of time. Can’t even remember the titles.

We wandered into a section labelled “18 Only”, hoping for scantily clad pole dancing ladies and these naked booth babes I hear everyone decrying, but annoyingly there was just some guy in a rubber Alien suit, and Borderlands 2. The Borderlands 2 demos were wired up to XBox360 controllers. WTF? I wrestled with the controller for a minute, looking probably like one of those long lost tribespeople that some missionary westerner has just given a knife and fork to, and eventually gave up in disgust. So in short: it looks like Borderlands 1, but prettier and the interface is a smidgen slicker. I’ll be buying it and playing it with a keyboard and mouse as God intended.

Fish And Chips

Eventually my stomach won the argument and we went in search of fish and chips. This you must know if you visit Brighton: the Regency Restaurant, on the sea front opposite the old burnt-out pier, makes the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. The Indie Stoners arrived along with torrential rain, and we decided to go to the pub.

Pub

In this bit we discuss things that we are not allowed to repeat in front of anyone, let alone broadcast all over the internet :) A couple of things became apparent though. Firstly, the Stoners absolutely hate the AAA games industry with a passion, and after they told us their life stories, I can see why. Secondly, we had a good laugh at the Zomboid team’s expense concerning what disasters might have befallen them on the way down from tha Toon to Brighton including hilarious anecdotes such as strapping all the laptops with the source code on to the front of the van (“for safekeeping”).

Peter Molyneux

The next talk we went to was to see what batshit silliness Peter Molyneux is up to with his new “independent” studio 22 Cans. It turns out that he’s hiring lots of people to make little games for iPhones, and to be fair he did have quite an interesting “game” concept he talked about which he claimed was about curiosity – “what’s in the box?”. I thought that really it asked the question, “Just how much money can you fleece people out of via iTunes?” Molyneux actually seemed to concur on that point. Nothing wrong with parting people from their money, I always say. Anyone daft enough to spend it in such a manner clearly needs to be parted from it as soon as possible before they actually go and do something stupid with it.

Cliff and I stood at the back and sniggered like naughty schoolboys. During the Q&A session I was just almost but not quite drunk enough to want to ask Molyneux whether Cliff was fired or whether he quit Lionhead in a huff. But again my pleasant nature somehow smothered my desires to make mischief and the session ended without incident.

Mitu and Redshirts

After the session we bumped into Cliffski’s minion, Mitu Khandaker, who is simultaneously developing Redshirts for Positech Games (ie. Cliffski) and also strenuously denying being a minion. Just as I was getting into my stride mocking one or the other of them the Mode 7 team happened by broadcasting their intentions to obtain food from Italian restaurants, and my favourite organ once again declared its interest in food. Exeunt Indies. Past Molyneux near the front entrance; I tried to get Cliff to rant at him (“Remember me? Huh? Remember?”) but he wouldn’t do it, which is a shame as it would have been entertaining.

Pizza, Beer, etc.

Went and had a pizza. Waitress threw a plate on floor behind me. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in Final Destination. Anyway, having dodged certain death from flying crockery, we went out to go and find the RockPaperShotgun drinkiepoos at some fancypants club called Audio. Talked to a bunch of people there including me old mucker Adam Martin, whom I conclude needs to port Titan Attacks to iOS for me, though he doesn’t know it yet. But we were so knackered we only managed a couple of drinks and had to retire back to the hotel. Out like a light. An interesting day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Having spent the last few days dealing with the aftermath of turning 39, I’ve finally gotten the database rinsed and cleaned and full of genuine registrations again from the Great Birthday Giveaway… and with some cunning databasery I’ve managed to reinstate some previously disabled games. What does this mean for you?

In short: if you ordered more than one game, I have reactivated the first one you ordered.

So if you were one of the people that fired up Steam the other day and discovered your game(s) have vanished, or if you tried to obtain a Steam key and were told that your email has been disabled, or if you tried to register your Puppygames registration but were told the same, you may now again register your game – just the first one you ordered – and get a Steam key for it (if it was Revenge of the Titans or Titan Attacks – Droid Assault and Ultratron don’t have Steam keys yet, but they will have, and you will be able to get them in the same way).

All in all I’ve managed to give away a further 2,353 free games to people who either didn’t read the small print quite right or for whatever reason were unaware of the one game limit. This makes me feel all magnanimous and warm inside, and is back in the spirit of things, bringing the total grand giveaway to 13,701 games.

Just to allay a few untrue rumours circulating – no-one is going to be banned by Valve for blagging an extra key. There are a few script hackers who might be in trouble though, and it was these guys filling up the registrations database with shite that have caused everyone all the grief, you included.

So in short: run your game, pop your email address in and wait for it to register, then go to http://www.puppygames.net/steam to get a Steam key if it’s Revenge of the Titans or Titan Attacks.