It's been requested that I dispense with the video updates for this week and type up my report for ease of skimming. Sounds good, let's give it a try. I'm going to attempt to keep it short and to the point... so, here goes.
If you remember last week, I mentioned that my main efforts were going into attempting to put non-Xbox joypad controls into Power-Up for PC. Well, I threw hours and hours into the endeavour, looking into everything from additional classes to run old DirectX dlls to using the likes of SlimDX, MonoGame and various other APIs in order to get it to work. It seems that the current version of XNA is newer than the old techniques for adding a DirectX control system, and the older versions of XNA are... well, just broken by today's standards. The bottom line was that nothing I tried within XNA would work and to use any other APIs would require quite a lot of re-learning and re-writing, which given the time it took to get Power-Up to a finished state, just didn't seem worth it. In a nutshell, it couldn't be done.
Instead, I decided to use my last four hours of the week on a compromise. Vigourously playtesting the game again on its various difficulty levels, I added an extra category of enemy spawning and shooting rates to my code for the keyboard controls, simplifying the game slightly to counter the more fiddly and less intuitive key commands so as not to put my keyboard players at a disadvantage when compared to those playing on a very cool, but let's face it, pricey USB XBox pad.
Still, if only XNA had a way of using a generic pad.
...But given the time restrictions and the plethora of other things I've got to do, it was a compromise I've had to make, although it's my biggest and most disappointing compromise on the project to date, and another very good reason not to stick with the dying XNA framework for my next project.
Oh, I also got paid last week so as promised, I managed to get the first batch of Power-Up hand drawn concept art and signed prints out. These basically went to everybody in the £35 and £100 tiers which included a copy of the soundtrack but not a copy of the game itself... as for the game itself, more to come on that in a bit, but first...
So first off, I'd like to get that difficulty fine-tuning finished. I think I've got the numbers pretty much there but it's going to need a couple more hours of testing and tweaking before I can say with confidence that the job's a good-un. After that, the rest of my week will mainly consist of sorting out e-commerce-y stuff for the website.
I've got everytihng working on the site now. I've even got it linking to my BandCamp page for those who want to buy the soundtrack and to my XBLIG page for those who want to buy the game on XBLIG but using an internet browser... yes. Apparently you can do that. It was news to me too when I released Power-Up on XBLIG as I'd only ever explored my Xbox games on the Xbox itself. Anyway, were treading a tangent here. Back to the point... It works. It allows you to get to the portal from which you can buy the product, and all without leaving stuff inconsistently in a trolley back on the site. I've just gotta do the same thing for buying the game on PC...
Now sure, once I've got Power-Up onto an online portal like Steam, Desura, etc, if I want to I'll be able to just make it purchase...er... -able from there through a link from my site, and I might, but what I'd really like to do with PC versions of my games, is have them purchase-able directly from my site, with a credit/debit card if possible but with PayPal too as an if-all-else-=fails option. Well I've been researching all this, having never done it before and having certainly never been taught, and it looks like there are all kinds of issues to get my head around first. Terms like PHP and ASP have reared up alongside othersuch complex and not-particularly desireable concepts that I've vaguely heard of, so this week I'll be looking into the lot, including shop software, PayPal buttons, and generally sorting out the best way to give a person a copy of Power-Up for a payment of their hard earned two quid.
hopefully, by the end of next week, I'll have decided on how I'm going to go about that and will be that little bit wiser when it comes to how to actually do it! ...This brings me onto my third and final point, and the question on everybody's lips...
So what state EXACTLY is Power-Up for PC in?
I've been asked this a lot lately, and quite rightly too. We're about 4 qweeks away from the date I estimated for Power-Up's PC completion, and you've every right to know how it's looking... especially if you backed my Kickstarter and are waiting on your tier's reward.
In short, Power-up for PC is done! Yes, you heard me. It's done!
Well, I've got one issue with a bit of art that moves a pixel out of allignment and as I mentioned, a load of finetuning to do for enemy spawns and shots when you're playing with the keyboard and not an XBox pad, but other than that lot the game itself is done! ...that's not to say READY though.
The tasks ahead of me in the coming month-or-so include figuring out how to deploy to PC in a manner that allows the recipient to download, install and run it on PC (Yes, really. Power-Up is my first proper one-man game, so everything is a learning process). I have managed this in early tests, but obviously, I'd like to familliarise myself with the process, compression methods, file-sizes, etc, so that I can predict and control every element of this bit, and obviously help and support if any of it goes wrong for anyone.
Secondly, I'll be submitting Power-Up to a number of indie gaming portals for distribution from those, although there is something else to look into before committing to any of that. Something that will probably hold things back a bit, but hopefully will be well worth the time and effort in the end...
You might remember that a month or so back, I sent out a bunch of letters (emails) to a select number of games publishers that I knew and loved. These were big publishers who for the most part have been big since I was little. I played their games, I loved their games, I longed to get involved with making their games as a job when I grew up.
Well, it was a long shot, but I asked them if they'd like to back Power-up in a publishing capacity, using their industry experience and leverage to help me turn my fairly successful indie game into a very successful indie game... and I had some responses. I know, right?! Who would have thought it??
Well, beyond that I can't really say much, mainly because there's not much to say, except that I'd LOVE to work with some of these companies and some of these companies seem interested in working with me. Over the next few weeks we'll be sitting down and talking about it. Sure, it might very well come to nothing, but again, it's all a part of the learning experience.
There's also a chance that with the right backing, all this might come to something wonderful and quite simply, I'd be mad not to investigate the possibility of 3000 sales becoming 3000000 sales, even if that does mean delaying the official release of Power-Up by a few weeks, or even months while things get sorted.
Always in motion the future is, and while I can't tell you much more than that just yet, I can tell you that I'll keep you informed every step of the way.
What did you think? Did you enjoy the text format? Was it easier to skim the information than the video format was, or did you miss my lovely cherub-like face? Would you like to see more info on the big picture? ...or is that a bit too much to digest on a weekly basis? Are the last-week/this-week updates enough to keep you informed?
As I say, I'm constantly learning to get better at this indie GameDev lark, so if you have any thoughts or opinions just bursting to get out on any of that, just drop me a comment and I'll do what I can to improve on your update experience.
Thanks again for following me. See you next week for another video update.