You wouldn't believe how busy I've been! If I told you, you just wouldn't.
I'll try to condense it all down into a short text based update nonetheless. Let's see.....
You might have noticed that this little update is a tad late.
Usually I post on a Monday, but this Monday I wasn't here. Let's start at the beginning.
Last Friday was the launch day for Power-Up on Steam! ...And launch it did but not without loads and loads of prep followed by loads and loads of things to sort out.
At the start of the week I had Power-Up downloading from Steam and running nicely on my home PC. "Safe" I thought..... then it occured to me that my home PC, this PC is the PC I made the game on. The PC I installed the XNA Framework's redistributable on for the purpose of running Power-Up.
"Better be sure it works for everyone" I thought, and with my partner, Jo's permission I set about Steam-installing it on her laptop. It fell over, asking where the flip the XNA drivers were. Now to a seasoned techy person this wouldn't be a problem, but I had a lot to figure out.
Still, I'm glad I found this little problem when I did. As it happened I needed a day or so to play around with Power-Up builds and to eventually come to the conclusion that the most elegant solution I could offer was to packege the XNA Redistributable as a second download option from Steam, which seems to have worked nicely. So I'm happy.
Now, there were two other issues outstanding and only a few days before the big release deadline. I'd already tried and failed once to run the acheivement system. The SteamWorks backend was great. I had 42 active/inactive acheivement icons uploaded complete with descriptions and everything else reqiured to get them running... I just couldn't get those bad boys working in the game.
I gave myself one of those last days to attack the C# steamworks wrapper thing and to adjust my in-game code to the best of my abillity. However, no matter which angle I came at things from, I just could not get my acheivements to unlock.
I really hope that the good people at Valve provide some better guiding documentation on that side of things for C# developers soon because at the moment that's a pretty tough nut for the entry level coder to crack.
I had to draw a line under that one. Bummer... but not forever I hope. With a bit of luck, one day I'll come back to that and get those achievements working.
One area I was confident about was the Trading Cards, though admittedly I haven't tried unlocking any yet. See, that just hooks into the Steramworks back end and those little fellows unlock when you play for a while. It's 20 minutes per card to be exact and there are 15 cards of some of the game's various baddies. As usual with Steam games, there are five badges which unlock each time you complete the card set, topping off with a sixth ultra-badge.
Gotta catch em all!!
As a part of the Trading Cards element I also designed a set of Power-Up backgrounds and emoticons to unlock as you go. One of these days I'll get 20 minutes to play through the game and unlock something myself. ;)
And that was it! Time up! Launch day!
I set my date and time expecting it to auto launch automatically at 9AM Pacific time. Late afternoon here in the UK, then set off for my FIRST DAY AT WORK!!
I know, right? How bad was my timing on that? In my defense, the start date came at rather short notice, but perhaps I should've considered that as my new job is in accademia and that the accademic year starts in early September, well, things were gonna get a bit tight.
As it was, I didn't and needless to say, when I left my induction it was to throngs of friends and followers on Twitter asking me "where the flip is Power-Up??" I felt like a right Mooey, I can tell you. I dashed to that railway station and spent the hour and a half journey pacing around the carriage, willing the train to somehow break its timetable and move faster.
When I got home, all I had to do was boot up my PC, go to the site and hit "Launch" but maaaan, we live and learn right? Next time I'll know. ;)
And THAT was last week!
So next week! What's still to be done? And how does my new job affect things?
Well, let's get to that.
I'm not going to start my next project just yet.
In fact, I'm going to have a bit of a hiatus.
Yep. you heard that right. I'm taking a break.
Remember when I started Power-Up? ...Well those fo you who do will remember that I was working full time. Tuesdays and Thursday evenings were mine to make my little game though, and Power-Up was born.
Well after New Year, I'm hoping to get back to a similar routine with a new game.
I'm doing two part time jobs at the moment and they make up full time work. In one I'm working as a casual mobile games artist for my friends at Lightwood Games and POWGI, and in the other I'm proud as punch to be the Sector Skills Champion for the Studio School in my hometown of Liverpool. Sure, I've only done my first week which was basically a couple of days to settle in and see the place, and sure, there's loads to suss out but I'm really looking forward to sharing some of my experience with the students and helping them to pick their direction in the industry.
That doesn't mean I'll be shirking my Psychotic duties. I'll be finding two evenings a week to get the slate clean for next year's big project, but admittedly, that slate-cleaning won't be as fun as a nice new project... here's what I've got lined up for my Psychotic evenings this year.
1. Honour my commitments to everyone who already bought Power-Up everywhere but Steam.
If you bought Power-Up before the Steam release then you showed faith in me and I really don't want you to have to buy it twice. I've set things in motion for everyone who bought the game on a bundle and am in the process of ordering the right ammount of keys for each and every one. I'm hoping to have the majority of this monster task done before the week end of the 13th/14th of September, but if you're still waiting round for a Steam code after that, throw me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll make sure you get yours direct from me.
As for my Power-Up Kickstarter backers, I'm also in the process of sending each and every one of you a Steam key as a little extra Thank You. I'm about 1/3 of the way through those as er, I'm doing it by hand.
So bear with me. I won't let you go without!
2. Release Flix The Flea for PC.
There's loads to do here and I'll be getting in touch with some of my favoutrite PC distributors to discuss a pre-Steam PC release for Flix (assuming it gets through Greenlight, of course). I'm going for the £1 price point with this one as it's a smaller project than Power-Up, though it does have bags of charm and I'd love you guys to keep upvoting it on Steam.
I've got quite a to-do list on Flix which includes, but is not limited to setting up some merch for the site, making the soundtrack available, and now I've got my ITIN, maybe I can even get Flix and Power-Up onto iTunes before the month's out.
3. Get Power-Up all sparkling on iOS and Android
2-bit Games has done a stellar job in getting the body of the game ready for me and we've managed to get all of the levels working and scrolling nicely. If you remember back, framerate and jumpy backgrounds was an issue in multiple resolutions. Those issues are all but sorted now, but there are basically three major issues remaining, and the ball's in my court there.
a. the 640x1136 version currently uses quick fix graphics which are all a bit too fat for it. I'll be getting all the assets for that version to basically match the 640x960 version, except for the static backgrounds of course, which will be custom built for that resolution. I'll also be giving every other resolution the once over to make sure thate are no graphical rogue-bludgers in the resizes.
b. Get everything paced right. This includes bullet speeds, shot rates enemy energy and pretty much every variable value in the game. Balancing this for iOS is no mean feat and probably one that I'm best suited for having done the Xbox/PC versions.
c. Get set up as an Apple developer so we can start device testing. This is basically a cashflow thing and once I've been paid this month I'll be hitting that one. We've got a brilliant QA Lead with loads of experience who 2-bit and I have both worked with before and I know he won't pull any punches when it comes to the quality of the game.
I've also got a well known publisher for the iOS version. They're keen and have every belief that we can pull an awesome iOS version out of the bag, so once we're running on device I'll be getting a build to them in the hopes of moving forward there. Until then, that's as much as I'm saying.
2-bit tells me that getting Power-Up to Android from there isn't such a big step, so hopefully that'll be happening before the new year too... but you know the score. The further ahead of ourselves we get, the rougher the plan.
Now, all good things must come to an end, and in two weeks I'll be doing the last in this line of fortnightly updates. I know, it's gonna be wierd without em, right?
The thing is, each one, typed or filmed takes somewhere between two and four hours to get done and out. when I was working five afternoons a week, that was sustainable but during periods of two evenings a week... well, put it this way, If I do updates I'll have very little to tell you as a quarter of my time will be taken up with well, updates!
Nuff said really.
I will wrap up 2014's Power-Up/Flix Updates with a final video in two weeks time that will re-itterate the plan(the exact day depends on my availabillity though), but don't worry. We've been here before. Remember those early days? I'll still be on twitter loads and loads, and facebook too.
...not to mention that next year I'm gonna start on a lovely new juicy Power-Up sized project, and probably the odd little Flix The Flea sized one as well. I'll keep you posted. ;)
Now, speaking of my Twitter and Facebook, if you're not following, please do. you might like it.
Here are the links...
Right. Better go. Jo's just very kindly made my dinner and I've still got loads to do! :S
Catch you in a couple of weeks for one last video update!