It's the end of an era. Here comes the final update in this series.
Power Up - an epic, retro space shooter presented in modern style... and all made by one person!! Read more
This project was successfully funded on February 28, 2013.
It's the end of an era. Here comes the final update in this series.
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!
The latest update is mostly about Power-Up and the mind boggling world of Steam Achievements!
How've you been?
It's been busy as always here juggling that part time day job of mine with getting Flix all ready for my Kickstarter backers. Thursday 25th was my self imposed deadline for the job and the week leading up to it was all about meeting that deadline.
Basically this was a case of making sure that the Flix game and soundtrack were ready for download while my signed prints were packaged up and set to go as soon as I got paid.
It had also occurred to me that a new blog post on the production of my little games was well overdue and I really wanted to have that done and out by the 31st. I spent Monday and Tuesday afternoons on that, and as I had yet to cover the subject of sound/music at all despite fielding a few requests for a post on that subject, I thought I'd oblige.
The result is a concise, if not occasionally rambling, but generally rather fun foray into the general whys, the wherefores and not forgetting the hows with regards to coming up with the sounds and music for Flix The Flea... not to mention a big plug for the soundtrack which I'll be releasing along with the game in September... hey, if I don't plug it, who will?! ;)
This was my main job for last week and you can read/hear that here on Gamasutra:
Or here on my own little blog page "Psychotic Pspeaks" if you prefer:
Once my blog was checked, checked again and finally posted (then checked again), I got myself back to the task of honouring those Kickstarter commitments. With a bit of money in the bank I popped round to my local post office and got those Flix The Flea signed posters off to their rightful owners.
Thanks very much for those who dropped me a line to let me know they'd arrived safe and sound. I especially loved the photo from @BravadoReign of it on your wall. Cheers for that! Made me smile no end to see Flix out there in the world. (Photos of your Psychotic goodies are always welcome and shouted about.)
As Flix is very much hot off the press I had a feeling that a few glitches might come back to me... and they did. I think I've probably got very used to playing Flix myself. I'm at that point with it where I can pretty much work my way through every level, collecting everything and generally racking up the points as I go, completing the game in rapturous style... which of course, is no good for testing it.
New players have approached Flix's gameplay with a much more explorational approach and comparitively less knowledge of the game's quirks. Needless to say, some of my new players found some pretty serious game stopping bugs (thanks for the reports guys), and some of those have taken a fair bit of thought to resolve.
Most potent was a wierd little anomaly in which Flix can hit his head, then fall backward through bits of the scenery to get well and truly jammed in the bottom left or right corner of a level. I won't go too far into detail, but suffice to say, I think that this week I found the main cause of that little fella and with a bit of luck I've got it completely removed from the game.
Some folk were also having issues with the game starting up in full screen (which it's not supposed to do at all), throwing the art assets all over the place! How rude!!
Incidentally, if you're a backer and your current copy looks less then perfect, do grab a latest copy of the game from the usual place and let me know if anything goes awry. It works fine at my end but there are a million ways to play a game and I'm sure I haven't covered them all. The official release is september so there's plenty of time for me to sort out the vast majority of anything you unearth.
That, and a few other minor bugs pretty much took up the entirety of last week. Really... I literally did an update of it just today with the last of those fixes. ...Come release day, of course, Flix will be just as perfect as Power-Up and nobody'll ever know that anything was ever wrong. ;)
In the meantime, if you're a backer who's playing and loving Flix, or if you're just liking the look of the game and would like to play it in the not-too-distant, you can always help vote it onto Steam over at this link.
So with that covered, let's look at what's coming up this week...
Well obviously, I'll be keeping a bit of time asside to recieve and resolve any outstanding issues with Flix The Flea. I'll probably mostly be compiling any bugs into a list to be fixed later in one big sesh though as the next thing on my list is a bit all-encompassing and has a deadline which comes before the release of Flix The Flea for PC.
Yes! You guessed it! ...this week I'll be prepping Power-Up for it's long awaited release onto Steam!
With a projected release date of Friday August 29th, this basically consists of two major tasks for the month ahead:
1. Most importantly, getting the game to the point where it's ready to go on sale through Steam (but of course).
2. Second, Getting Power-Up integrated into Steamworks in a meaningful way. Less essential but very desireable... and probably rather difficult for an amateur coder like me to accomplish. For this reason, I'll be giving myself plenty of time to get my head around the task at hand. I remember that it took me about two weeks to figure out save data in an XNA game... surely this won't be as much of a headache right??
Well, we'll see about that, but if I can get Steam to recognise certain achievements within Power-Up, like the defeat of bosses, the completion of chapters or the beating of the game on its various difficulty levels, then I'll be a very happy bunny. At the very least, I'd like the unlocking of a new Weapon-F paint job to trigger a Steam award of some sort. We'll see how far I get with my aspirations here, but I'm hoping that a couple of weeks should do the trick. Certainly, if the job is just beyond my skills at this point, I'll know within a coulpe of weeks.
And speaking of ship unlocks, that brings us to a third job, which actually takes a higher priority to either of those two tasks mentioned above and will pretty much constitute the majority of this week's work...
After discussing a few things with 2-bit about the iOS release of Power-Up (which incidentally, I'm hearing looks brilliant on device and is coming along nicely), I've decided to carry over a rather good idea of his over from his iOS version of the game and into the PC version. Basically, each unlocked ship comes with one extra notch of power up on its weapons at the start of the game, adding more than just a paint job to each ship and giving the hard working player a starting advantage.
At the moment it looks like these upgrades will be spread accross the weapons, so ship 2 might have 2 notches on the laser, ship 3 would have 2 notches on both the laser and the spread, and so on. I'll be testing the water with that this week, but I've a good feeling that it should work rather well.
I think I've also completely sorted the one remaining very rare but nasty crash bug from the PC version too, though I'll be making absolutely sure this coming week when I revisit the Power-Up code... actually, that's something I haven't laid eyes on since, what, March? ...wow. It feels longer than that! wonder if I'll even recognise that explosion of beginner's code. :S
Finally, don't worry if you've bought Power-Up from somewhere that isn't Steam. I've got pretty good at keeping track of things. I have a nice list of everywhere I've distributed the game through and all those versions will be getting updated in line with the Steam version shortly before or after the release.
Also, and I know I keep banging on about this, but I don't want you to miss it... if you bought your copy of Power-Up from another PC distributor, you're also entitled to a Steam version. Just drop me a copy of your receipt or something via email (to email@example.com) and I'll get you a code for your Steam version too... although it's probably worth waiting for the Steam release before you do that. If you do it earlier than that, chances are I'll be far too busy getting the game ready and I'll just go and lose your email between now and the release, being the shambolic little one-man outfit that I am. ;)
And there we are... Right!
Lots to do. Better crack on. See you in two weeks for the video update!
...wonder if I'll suss all this complicated Steam stuff out on time?! Wish me luck! :D
Well well. Fancy seeing you here!
Still, as you're around, why not make yourself comfortable and watch my latest video update. It's about Power-Up iOS progress, Flix bug fixes, and honouring my commitments to my lovely Kickstarter backers.