Category Archives: Diary

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.

So, What Happened On My Birthday?

As a little treat for the internets, on my birthday the other day I decided that we would give away our games for free, and see what the power of a single tweet could accomplish.


Well, of course, our server was flattened within the hour, as it turns out our keygen can only generate about 15 keys a minute, and we went on to give away 22,500 keys.  The only reason we only gave away 22,500 keys was because BMTMicro, our payment provider, closed our shop page after 12 hours because we couldn’t cope with the huge backlog coming in.

To make matters more amusing, we only had about 6,000 Steam keys to hand, and these ran out sharpish as well. It also turns out the Steam key retriever contained a schoolboy thread race error in it causing a couple of hundred people to receive duplicate Steam keys. And the cherry on the cake was that unbeknownst to us, a few days before the promotion, our server silently stopped sending email to customers after it was “migrated” by Rackspace. I’ve no idea how its configuration could have changed in that time, but it did. So we had this perfect storm going on:

  1. Site flattened
  2. Shop page shut down
  3. Ran out of Steam keys
  4. Email sender kaput

The end result is that my single tweet generated 3,000 support emails, none of which we will be answering :) No, instead, we are going to send an email to each and every one pointing to a FAQ page which explains what went wrong and what you can do about it, and if you’ve got some problem that’s not answered in the FAQ, we advise emailing us again.

Abuse!

It didn’t take long for some people, in Eastern Europe and Australia, to latch on to our generosity, and quickly create scripts to generate hundreds of Steam keys for themselves, which presumably they have been trading. Unfortunately I know about this. Unfortunate for them, that is, as every single one of these keys will shortly be invalidated by Valve, who will also at their discretion be completely banning accounts who took advantage of the abuse. This is called “karma”.

Slightly Less Abuse!

I’m not sure just how clear that tweet was about the offer but to me it looks very much like “1 item max” means that I only wanted to give away one game each on my birthday. I’m terribly sorry to all 3,137 people who decided to take all of our games during the offer, because I’ve had to disable them all, and again, Valve will be taking your keys off of you, and no, I’m not giving them back because there are thousands of you and you had your chance and blew it.

What We Are Left With

So out of that 22,500 “sales”, we’ve actually ended up with just 11,200 legitimate people who took us up on the offer – happy birthday me! And a thousand thank yous to all those who took the offer in the spirit in which it was intended – you really are our fans and you make it all worthwhile for us. Keep an eye out for the completely updated, revamped and changed Ultratron 3.0 coming in the next couple of months, and of course, Droid Assault will be making an appearance on Steam as well soon.

Some Of Your Problems Answered

Where do I get the Steam key from for my game?

http://www.puppygames.net/steam

I got a duplicate key! Can you fix this?

Just try again, it’s fixed now.

I never received the email you said you sent me!

Try again, it’s fixed now. And check your SPAM folder!

It says you’ve run out of Steam keys!

We’ve got some more now, just try again.

My game has reverted back to a demo version!

That’s too bad – I did only want to give one game away each and I haven’t time to deal with everyone who somehow “misunderstood”

Sprog Number 2

So, my big news is the birth of daughter number 2, Saffron Natalie Asia Prince (continuing the tradition of strange and unusual names in our family). Born at 815am on Saturday morning and weighing a colossal 10lbs 4oz after an extremely gruelling 26 hours of what looked like a pretty nasty labour! But all’s well that ends well and baby and mum are hale, hearty and healthy, and we were all home in time for mid-afternoon tea.

Another mouth to feed! Bugger. As I have alluded to my geeky friends though, I shall know my life’s work is done when my daughters one day ask me, “Daddy, how come the Dude is also in Tron?”

This is all, of course, not spectacularly interesting to Puppygames blog readers :)

What might be more interesting are the following items on the agenda:

Revenge of the Titans 1.80.7

I’ve uploaded another patch, early. We need to get it as trouble-free as possible for our release on Steam next week, so I’ve just stuck to trying to fix the last few important niggles. To this end it’s there right now to download, so you can test out the couple of fixes I’ve done. Here’s the changelog:

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: super slow gidrahs

Balance

  • Reduced Saturn boss armour to 4, so now damageable by more weapons; increased hitpoints by 40%

Internal

  • Added a Thread.yield() in the tick() loop to see if we can reduce sound stuttering
  • Added a commandline switch sleep=true to force sleeping instead of yielding for machines with persistent sound stuttering troubles
  • Game now recovers gracefully from a failed Restore, no more ghostly sprites left on the game screen!

Musings on Pricing

You might have noticed that the price of Revenge of the Titans has shot up to an apparently ball-bustingly massive $27.72 – egads! That’s like, nearly as much as a takeaway curry, which will give you, like, days and days of enjoyment! (If you leave it out all night and reheat it and eat it, anyway).

This has caused much nerdrage amongst the Glorious Entitled Of The Internet, who believe that everything should be free or nearly free (and if not free, then DRM free and available from the Pirate Bay). How dare Puppygames suddenly charge full price for their shitty 8-bit retro Flash same-as-all-the-others Tower Defense game? Why would I, Angry Righteous Gamer, pay my week’s pocket money out for this piece of utter shit?

Of course, gamers know everything there is to know about economics and pricing models, because they all make and sell games for a living, and do so more successfully than Puppygames do. We are of course famously broke and never made much of a bean with our games, but it was never anything to do with the price of them. We’ve sold games from everything between $4 and $28, and if you want to know the actual truth of it, it makes no difference to our bottom line whatever price we charge. My esteemed peer Cliff Harris aka Cliffski has rather a lot of knowledge of economics and has a few things to say on the subject which you might find interesting, and which I won’t bother repeating here (hurrah for hyperlinks!).

So I’m going to let you in on a few secrets and explanations as to the method behind my madness, mostly because if you’re reading this you’re a) very likely to already be a fan of our games and supporting us already and b) it really won’t make any difference if world+dog knows our secret world dominiation plans.

Firstly: we have always said the game would be $27.72 when it was finished, and we lured your wallets open with a 50% off pre-order beta offer which we rounded down to the considerably more l33t number $13.37. Obviously our UK and European customers got some crazy price in our funny national / continental currency that was around halfish too, except we all have to pay VAT. Bah.

Secondly: if we failed to officially increase the price of the game, that would have made us bullshitters about our pre-order offer. Technically.

Thirdly, there’s a 50% off coupon in the game, which is the first thing you see (if you don’t know yet it’s ROTTROCKS – put this in the BMT order form). So in reality it’s still 50% off, just like it always was, give or take a few cents. This is a special offer; we can change that whenever we want. We can offer 25% off, or 75% off, or 90% off. What this does is firstly make the game as cheap as it always was, and secondly make it look like a right bargain compared to its RRP of $27. It also means we can do legitimate sales with apparently astounding savings one day in the future but still make enough money to make it worth doing. At 90% off we still make a profit of about $1 on a registration of the game and 90% off sounds bloody appealing.

Fourthly, we needed to ensure there was pricing parity with the Steam version, which will be released next week at $14.95. The special offer 50% coupon means we’re effectively charging the same price as Steam is for the game. Well, a little bit less, but then Steam comes with the real advantages which you’ll all know if you love Steam. I love Steam. Don’t be ashamed.

So you see, having a high RRP on our site might be newsworthy fail for a few angry Reddit nerds, but the reality is, the game is still obtainable for the same price everywhere, and we can tweak the offer on a whimsy and make it newsworthy when we do so at the same time as making it look like a bargain.

And that’s the method to our madness. We have no idea if we’re right, but you’re sure as shit not going to tell us we’re wrong. We’ve got the numbers to do that for us.

Crash fixed!

Just a quick update to say I’ve patched Revenge of the Titans to v1.80.4, mainly to fix that crash bug you all noticed – I will get around to the huge pile of email the last couple of releases are generated tomorrow, honest – and tweak the balance slightly. This week I’m mostly going to be working on recording all your lovely Survival mode hiscores, Steam achievement integration, and possibly putting Sandbox mode in if there’s time.

Someone clever has noticed that it’s a total waste of time actually planting more than a single refinery before level 5 (just to actually start the aliens coming). In fact it’s probably not even worth bothering to research them until level 5 though the game does sort of hint at it being important. Hm. But then you can get a bit of a headstart with the efficiency research. Decisions, decisions! You know, I have no idea myself what the best path through this game actually is. Survival mode hiscores will reveal all.

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: crash researching lasers and disruptors
  • Fixed: powerup counters appearing when collecting a powerup when the HUD is flipped down

Balance

  • Collectors now $500
  • Cooling towers now $500
  • Difficulty now slighty biased in favour of cash in the bank (ie. the more you hoard instead of use, the harder it gets)

Internal

  • Halved streaming audio buffer size as it doesn’t seem to have had any effect

A Patch Draws Near

A] FLEE

B] ATTACK

C] DOWNLOAD

Yes, hot on the heels of v1.80.1 we already have Revenge of the Titans v1.80.2, which is really just a little bit of a tweak to address a couple of really annoying things that slipped past my bleary code-worn eyes. Well worth the download. Not least because if you don’t it’ll nag you to download forever.

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: shipped 32bit MSVCR90.dll this time – whoops
  • Fixed: powerups counters would show zeros when HUD hidden and shown
  • Fixed: mines / barricades counters would shown 10 when should have shown 0 when HUD hidden and shown

Balance

  • Made game easier overall – too many people getting stuck!
  • Survival a little bit harder

New Features and Enhancements

  • Batteries no longer slow down reloading rate

Internal

  • Gidrahs recalculate their paths a little less enthusiastically
  • Slight adjustment to spawn delays in Survival

With any luck, I’ve finally got to the bottom of the sound not working on a few of those Windows machines out there. Turns out I accidentally shipped a 64-bit dll in the last patch instead of the magic 32-bit one that would have fixed everything. Hm. I could in fact make a completely separate 64-bit version for Windows I suppose. Maybe that’ll confuse the great unwashed.

I Can Haz Done A Playthrough

Behold, a playthrough of levels 1-10 (15 minutes long). As you can see, I got my arse handed back to me on a plate, and not very gently either, on level 10, because I got a bit too cocky. But at least it shows the fighting spirit so lacking in today’s impetuous and lazy youth with their short attention spans and lack of investment in their own entertainment eh? Get off my lawn, Earth Boss!

I shall be uploading my Moon playthrough in a bit, which took me a fair amount longer to do, though I managed it all in one go without getting kicked in by the Titans

Full Steam Ahead!

I’ve only got a few things on my to-do list now for Revenge of the Titans, like a little graphical glitch when barricades get attacked and online hiscores integration… which is good, because it means I’m now working on the Steam client integration, which will see the unique medals in the game used as Steam achievements, and I’ll be storing the hiscores in Survival mode hopefully on Steam too. Not sure yet if the Steam cloud integration is going to work out properly for us or not yet – possibly in a patch.

Slight delay!

It turns out that we’re not quite ready to release the next installment of Revenge of the Titans today! As this is quite an important release we’re making sure it’s properly sorted, so it’s staying in the oven to cook for a little longer. Maybe Sunday, maybe Monday…

Also, I’ve figured out how to make Debian Linux packages (both 32 and 64 bit)! They install with a simple double-click. I’ll test it out with RotT first and if it seems to work OK then I’ll release all the other games that way as well. RPM format is next on my to-do list. And if I’m feeling particularly nifty I might be able to do separate 64-bit Windows installers too. The Webstart option will remain (and work for everyone, everywhere – something Java got almost right!)

Stay tuned…

Survival Mode!


At last, after a couple of delays involving house moves, panicking TV stations, and the unexpectedly early completion of a new game mode, we are proud to announce Revenge of the Titans v1.61! Without further ado, here are direct download links for our blog followers (the proles get the simplecdn cached stuff with varying degrees of success).

Windows
Mac OS
Linux

Here’s what’s in the latest version:

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: Garbage collector crash – don’t use G1 on Java 6!
  • Fixed: selling buildings just before level end to get double money!
  • Fixed: shield generators keep getting more expensive every level
  • Fixed: Missing research link in tree: heavy blaster -> blast cannon
  • Fixed: Superfluous link between heavy blaster -> assault cannon
  • Fixed: Slot selection screen only showed Basingstoke – Earth – $0
  • Fixed: when a building is shielded, after the Invuln powerup finishes the shield sprites are gone
  • Fixed: removing droid factories, shield generators and silos didn’t reset their price

New Features and Enhancements

  • Survival mode!
  • New map generator code: better wiggly tunnels from spawnpoints to map
  • Stop gids from spawning when freeze mode on
  • New hint: don’t overspend on research
  • New hint: boss level -> save your cash!
  • Removed the turret aiming lag – didn’t like it

Balance

  • Increase initial gidrah delay based on level size
  • Increase range of disruptor slightly to 110px from 96px
  • Decreased damage of disruptor from 25 to 16
  • Nerfed multiblaster from 4 to 3 points damage
  • Nerfed spreader cannon from 4 to 3 points damage
  • Nerfed assault cannon from 8 to 7 points damage
  • Powerup drops last a bit longer before vanishing
  • Even more crystals
  • Mars gidrahs nerfed somewhat
  • Droid factory: now each droid factory can produce at most 8 droids
  • Droid factory: production rate slowed down by 50%
  • Droid factory: …but factories now only cost $1000+$1000 per factory

Internal

  • Queue gidrah route recalculations on building so they don’t all happen at once
  • Increased memory allocation for the VM to 256mb
  • Reduced max GC pause to 3ms (Windows only)

Survival Mode

Lucky registered users have a new mode to play. It is unlocked after completing the Earth missions. When you select a survival mode game, you get to choose the world (from the set of worlds you’ve seen so far with that profile), and just for fun, you can choose the rockiness of the terrain. The buildings you have available to you are the buildings you have researched so far in campaign mode.

You are expected to lose. Probably quite fast. The aliens will rapidly become overwhelmingly deadly. The idea is to get a base together as fast as you can and defend it as long as you can. Notice that you don’t earn money for killing gidrahs! The only way to get cash is mining crystals, which spawn every now and again, or pickups.

Your best time for a particular world/terrain combination are also recorded. Let’s hear some hiscores!

All Good Things Must Come To An End…

…or become a bit more expensive, anyway! But only as expensive as to be able to afford a helping of mushy peas with one’s pie and ale. The Ultrabundle is now just a tiny weeny bit more than it was, assuming you think that $2 is tiny weeny like us. It’s still ultracheap if you’ve not picked it up already, and it will get more expensive again while we experiment with prices in the not very distant future. So don’t delay! Hand over your filthy cash today!

Don’t forget the bundle lets you install all 3 of our minigames an any combination of operating systems, as often as you need to!

Endless Mode!

I’ve just uploaded Revenge of the Titans v1.6 here:

Windows
MacOS
Linux

The following tweakery has been performed for your delectation and continued amusement:

Bugs Fixed

  • Again at certain resolutions the map scrolls past the edges
  • Gold medal awarded even though level made easier
  • Mysteriously reverting to earlier planet when resuming
  • info panel remains open when HUD hidden
  • Having your progress reset once you get past Earth

New Features and Enhancements

  • Add a “sell stuff” hint or two
  • Endless mode!
  • Movement animation of stop-start gidrahs looks better
  • Stop-start gidrahs move in a slightly different way

Balance

  • Crystal reduction as player gets richer slightly less severe
  • More crystals!
  • Blast cannon damage buffed to from 12 to 16

Internal

  • Much better frame rate limiting code
  • New animation commands to avoid XML duplication

As per usual, download and install over the top of your old version. Also as per usual, all your progress and saved games are invalid – bah! – that’s the perils of beta software. So I advise you start a new profile from scratch and test Endless Mode for me :)

Eurogamer Expo 2010


Well, I went to Eurogamer Expo 2010 this year on the Friday, thanks to Dave Hayward at the recently-merged Mudlark. Dave arranged it for us to showcase Revenge of the Titans at the Indiecade booth round the back of the show, along with a few other indies. Extra super thanks to Dave for being brilliant! Unfortunately I didn’t take a worthy camera with me so there aren’t any exciting pictures of me doing exciting things, which is just as well, as I’m not too photogenic.
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Revenge v1.51 released – you asked for it!

We’ve been listening to your feedback on the Revenge of the Titans beta over the last few months, and with this new update (v1.51) we’ve attempted to address some of the most requested changes. And of course there’s a load of other tweaks, not least finally the ability to sell buildings! Here are the download links…

Windows
Mac OS
Linux

Don’t forget to check the version number to make sure you’ve really gotten 1.51 installed. Here’s what’s new, changed, fixed, twiddled, and nerfed:

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: stuttering sound (hopefully!)
  • Fixed: HUD money updates when intermission screen is showing
  • Fixed: Reloading a turret in build mode should stop build mode
  • Fixed: Can’t reload a turret or collect a factory when in Build mode
  • Fixed: creating path for gidrahs overwrites odd ruin tiles – needs to either leave them or delete all tiles associated with the ruin
  • Fixed: dialog text not centred on game over
  • Fixed: Apostrophe key ‘ now correctly selects autoloader for build
  • Fixed: Load/Save. Again. All files now stored in user home directory.
  • Fixed: Gidlets now only immune to explosions when spawning
  • Fixed: Ruins used to block blaster fire in their bottom left corner: this is now specified per ruin for the whole ruin or in a mapping attribute

New Features and Enhancements

  • Medals
  • Ranks
  • New intermission screen
  • New ESC menu
  • Wired up ESC button on HUD
  • Completely new in-game UI
  • New Game Over UI
  • Added the in-game menu to the research/story screens so you can quit out at that point.
  • Change the way shield generators work
  • Wire up new options (to hide various GUI stuff)
  • Rockets now explode when they hit the edge of the map
  • New research GUI with all the stats and two different views
  • Sell mode
  • DEL key wired to Sell mode and middle mouse button
  • You get 10 seconds to sell a building after construction in which you’ll get 100% of the money back (like an undo)
  • Laser to be able to fire into mountains (turret needs to be able to see too)
  • Appropriate story tweaks when flying gidrahs appear re: lasers
  • Removed [X] button from hints panel – click anywhere to close it now
  • Hints now remain onscreen for 7 seconds max
  • Top HUD fades out as mouse approaches
  • Bottom HUD now hideable with toggle button (INS key)

Balance Changes

  • Gidrahs now get a little more urgent and fearless when the timer runs out
  • Nerfed damage bonus for alien anatomy to just +1
  • Increased research cost of a few things
  • Nerfed laser/rocket ranges a little
  • Saturn gidrahs now a teeny bit harder
  • Slightly increased saucer duration on earlier levels, decreased on later levels
  • Reduce crystals available slightly now Sell button implemented
  • Tweak tuning: game needs to be tiny bit harder tiny bit sooner

Internal Stuff

  • Completely change the way game metastate is persisted
  • Store exact representation of level instead of relying on dubious random number seed
  • Gidrah now uses 1/32th the RAM courtesy of using packed bits in ints in its tiny brain
  • Awarded a non-repeatable medal sfx
  • Awarded a repeatable medal sfx
  • New rank sfx
  • Sold sfx
  • Can’t build sfx
  • Insufficient funds sfx

And onto a few pics…

We’ve had a fair few requests to be able to see the statistics of researched buildings, and to see in some form the research connections between technologies and buildings. Here’s the new Research screen showing those stats, and the improved table and the new tree layouts…

(You can read more about the changes in Research GUI for the Tweak)

Adding the requested ‘Sell’ button required a HUD redesign, so we made some oft suggested alterations as well…

( more info here: Revenge of the HUD Redesign and Revenge of the HUD part 2 )

The old in-game ESC key menu has been given a restyling, and is now accessible from a HUD button. You can access this menu from the various Story and Research screens by pressing ESC too. Options on the Game Over screen have also been updated…

And last but not least, the Achievements dialog showing Rank and Medals…

There’s also a new Level Complete dialog – though that looks a bit pants at the mo, so wont bother with a screenshot :) That’ll probably get a bit of a tidy up in the final polish stage of development.

Next up on the todo list – Cas will be adding Endless and Survival game modes, and I’ll add badge graphics for ranks before making a start on the Titan levels. The jury’s out as to whether to tackle Endless or Survival first, but right now we’re hedging our bets with Endless mode, which is like the current campaign mode, but without a story, or… an end. Just level after level of slowly increasing size and difficulty, drawn randomly from the scenery we’ve done so far, until you are defeated (and there’s only one life). We expect Endless games to take hours to play, by which time you will probably be a gibbering nervous wreck.

Research GUI for the Tweak

Next up for GUI tweaking is the research screen, which currently looks like this…

There’s 2 major changes to make that people have requested:

  1. to be able to view more complete info and stats of already researched items
  2. some way to tell what research item leads to what, rather than effectively having to guess

The following images are first thoughts, and quick mockups – I know they don’t make a lot of sense as to what’s being hovered on,  refineries don’t lead on to robotics etc. :)Continue reading

Revenge of the HUD part 2

Thanks for all the feedback on the HUD changes – it seemed opinion was split between versions 1 and 2, but with the majority in favour of version 1, so I’ve gone ahead and sorted all the graphics and XML for that.

It may be possible to add some option to choose between the two at a later date, and I’ve arranged the various buildings so that they could potentially open up from category icons in little panels of 1×3 or 2×3 building icons… but as its taken 2 and a half days of fiddling to sort the HUD out so far I don’t think I’ll have time to do that before the next release which we have planned for Sunday.

This is how it was looking before…

… and here’s how it looks now….

Changes made…

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