Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Indie Game Marketing is Tough

Admittedly, Fungicide isn't quite finished yet.  It is certainly in a playable state, but some stuff still needs to be worked on and added.  Still, to get some feedback and have people actually PLAY my game, I've tried to spread it around the Internet a bit.  The results have been...mixed.  I don't even know what GOOD results would look like.

For those of you interested, here is my basic marketing plan:

Increase general online presence.

I just go around and comment on as many things as I can, and try to keep up posting good content.  Indirectly, I hope this will drive some traffic to the game.

Post Fungicide on forums.

Most likely, this will take place more in the future.  Right now, it's only on one forum, without many comments.


Upload to freeware portal.

I've already done this.  Fungicide is available for download on Game Jolt, and has had a grand total (as if..) of 17 plays in the last 6 days or so.

Things I haven't done

Fungicide isn't near polished enough to submit to larger sites for review.  I don't know if it ever WILL be.  I may try when it's much more refined.  By then, I would expect to be able to charge something for it.  Probably around $2, would be a rough estimate.

Right now it's free, though.  Maybe you should give it a try.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Long Night Programming and Testing Multiplayer

It was a long road, but the 2-player online for Fungicide is off the ground, even if just barely.  A number of errors and bugs are still around, especially around the end of a game, but it's functional.  The refining comes next.

The version up here doesn't have the multiplayer capability yet.  I have a bit more testing to do before I put it up.  I can tell you how it works, though.

Over LAN, all is well.  The Host has an IP, and the Guest uses that IP to connect.  They can then play a little 5 minute game of Killing Spree.  It was quite entertaining, with my cousin helping me to do some tests.  Everything seemed to sync up well, and the experience was great.

Over the Internet?  I have no idea.  I haven't had any chance to test that out, but it probably catches fire.

Through that testing, I learned a lot about my game.  First, working together makes things easier.  Second, having a partner easily doubles the entertainment value.

A lot of work remains, but things are progressing well.

I expect to have a working multiplayer version available here by Sunday.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Patching and Sloppy Game Design

You know, it seems more and more that patching makes room for some pretty questionable game design choices.  After all, no matter how back something gets screwed up, you can just go back and fix it later, right?  This attitude seems to pervade the gaming industry as a whole, and it's behavior that the average consumer seems fairly willing to tolerate.

Well, sometimes at least.

Turns out, an alien swarm is the least of the problems here.
Colonial Marines, was highly anticipated.  Lovers of the Aliens franchise haven't gotten much love in the game department, and CM promised to scratch that particular itch.  I was looking forward to it, for sure.  It offered split screen CO-OP, which is a pretty big deal in my social circles.
Then the critical response came in.  Warmer receptions are given when Africanized bees enter a new state.  One of the best responses you can find is "yeah, the multiplayer is better than having a tornado go through the living room."
After the fact, a huge list of things to be patched is released.  You can find it at the bottom of this post.  The question becomes, did no one even play this game before it was released?  Or did all these problems come up in testing and the developers just thought "we'll fix it later?"  Sorry, developers, but when you're selling something for $60, you have a high standard to meet.  make sure you ship something reasonably polished.  Then again, if it's fun, you may not have to.
I'm actually not going to comment on whether the game is good or not.  I haven't played it, but probably will, even with all the negative criticism.  It just doesn't seem worth full price.  I can overlook technical faults if the game is entertaining.

Speaking of technical faults:

  • Improved texture resolution.
  • Various visual improvements.
  • Added mouse smoothing to options menu.
  • Fixed crashes tied to launch and motion tracker.
  • Added additional safeguards to better protect save data.
  • Resolved an issue where a player's level could sometimes appear incorrect when backing out of a party.
  • Addressed several scenarios under which players could spawn without a weapon.
  • Changes to better prevent audio from sometimes cutting out during end of mission cinematics.
  • Fixed issue where Xeno death animation was not properly calculating momentum of the killing blow.
  • Smart Gun animation now properly tracks targets.
  • Addressed some instances where Xenos would display erratic animations.
  • Increased light radius for player's shoulder lamp.
  • Adjusted aim assist to better reflect player input.
  • Addressed an issue that could sometimes cause co-op player revival to not work under certain circumstances.
  • Addressed issues with players not spawning into a level properly.
  • Fixed a marine player invincibility exploit.
  • Resolved several instances where players could walk or fall outside of maps.
  • Addressed an issue where Ripley's Flamethrower (bonus content) would sometimes fire continuously without player input.
  • Fixed an issue that could cause localized text to sometimes display incorrectly.
  • Addressed an issue where weapon ammunition was not always highlighted properly.
  • General user interface improvements.
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes.
  • Tweaked enemy and friendly AI to be more aggressive and responsive.
  • Modified campaign difficulty to account for improved AI responsiveness.
  • Improved enemy collision detection regarding doors and Power Loader.
  • Addressed some issues that could cause improper warping for co-op players.
  • Various tweaks to address instances where NPC characters would not always properly navigate to objectives.
  • Players will no longer bleed out immediately when downed in a Power Loader.
  • Fixed issues that could cause clients to report inaccurate results and statistics.
  • Addressed instances where a map would appear to "pop in" when loading into a new match.
  • New Xeno appearance customization added.
  • Multiplayer teams should now correctly auto-balance between rounds.
  • Increased duration of Lurker Pounce Challenge "Cat-Like Reflexes" from 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Fixed issue where certain multiplayer challenges would not unlock properly for all characters.
  • Crusher pick-ups now correctly appear as highlighted for clients.
I forgive a lot of the multiplayer faults.  Sometimes you just can't tell how things are going to work when lots of people are using your system in a competitive setting, and adjustments must be made.

Always Online Xbox?

Imagine the surprise.  Not long after writing about Sim City's always online train wreck, this article on The Escapist catches my attention.  Could this be possible?  An always online console?

Now, before breaking out the torches in pitchforks: the information comes from an unconfirmed source.  Supposedly, it's someone who had access to the SDK for Durango (the next Xbox), with no other information but that.

The SDK makes a few stipulations for those who want to develop for Durango.  One, that the console will always be online.  Two, Kinect will be required. Three, all games must run from an installation on the hard drive.

The first requirement only hints at the possibility of an always online Xbox, it certainly does not confirm it.  Many are reading it that way, though, and it isn't ruled out either.  Only official word from Microsoft could put an end to the speculation.

Original Escapist Article

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fungicide: 2D Zombie Shooter

Fungicide Beta Release

Caution: Contains animated violence and gore
An action packed, zombie murder spree.  Go back to the days of classic shoot 'em up arcade games with Fungicide.
Infectious fungal spores have turned an entire city into raving undead monsters. Fight through the hordes, while suriving the best you can.

Zombies are not the only threat. The infection has created large mutated creatures and even changed some common denizens of nature into killing machines.

Fight your way through two game modes, and over ten different enemy types.


Game Information:

Players: 2 (splitscreen only)
Controls: WASD movement and mouse aiming
Game Modes:
  Killing Spree - Kill as many as you can.
  Survival - How long can you last?

Fungicide is currently in early Beta.  Feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Send in high scores for glory!
Fungicide Beta Release  
Please report broken links.  Thanks!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Give the Player More Options, Not Less

The recently released Sim City seems to be a decent game, based on what I have seen.  No matter how great the game may appear (or even be), I will never own it.  Online-only games have always been on my no buy list.  They're simply too restricting for my taste.  I have no idea how the creators of Sim City can justify what they have done, either to themselves, or their customers.

The main argument for Sim City requiring an Internet connection revolves around the player experience, or at least that is the official story from the developers.  They had a "vision" for their game, and the players have no say in the matter.  First, they wanted to get rid of the isolated feel of the past Sim Cities.  I don't know when people started complaining about lonely single player, but they need to stop.

The lonely days of being able to play games anytime you want

Besides, that argument is completely irrelevant.  In the newest Sim City, you don't have to have neighbor cities controlled by other players.  You can create your own separate region unsoiled by the vicious crime and rampant pollution out of your control.  Why then, Maxis, couldn't the player disconnect from your servers to do this?  This portion seems to work more or less like Sim City 4.


The people who want to play on their own can, and those multiplayer types can get in their socialization.  It seems, though, the larger developers have given up on thinking from a player's perspective.  Games are more interesting overall with more options available.

Of course, the DRM argument is around.  Honestly, it seems like the best explanation.  It's the one that benefits the developers most.  The problem is, though, DRM is useless.  Pirates can already play Sim City offline. 

I do not understand why video game companies continue to punish their paying customers.

Things to Come

This blog sure has suffered neglect recently.  It's like one of those starving kittens you see on ASPCA commercials.  I definitely intend to rectify that in the near future.

Not right now, of course.  My procrastination hasn't quite been exhausted yet.  For those of you who are regularly checking this blog (I'm probably addressing an empty room with that), here's a brief rundown of the things I plan to add.  Plus, this will make me a bit more accountable to actually DO stuff.

First, I have been working to develop a 2D game in my spare time.  I'm going to start recording that process here.  I'm sure someone will find those exploits interesting.

Next up, I'm gonna talk about online-only games at some point soon.  Sim City came out recently, and it committed an atrocity that needs to be pointed out.

So, those are the things on the agenda.  I expect to have two posts in the next week.

Update: Those posts are up.  Links can be found above.