Monday, 25 March 2013

End of the line...

So January came and went.  A deadline at work for the end of January meant that all of my time over Christmas (as I didn't have any time off) and throughout January went to work.  Any extra time that I got at home was spent relaxing.  So yeah I was slacking off, again.  But February came and I got myself into gear, now I am putting the final touches onto my game ready for a release later this month.

I'm planning on writing a full account of my first year with Unity and releasing my first mobile title later on as I think it'll be good to reflect on the mistakes that I made, how I got over them and what I have learned from this entire development process.

Here are a couple of the menu screenshots:

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Unity and developing my game from nothing into something people enjoy playing.  This will be the first release as I have several additions such as highscore boards and Facebook integration to implement later to make this product more inline with current releases.  I am also going to be working on a full GDD of a new game that I hopefully will start developing in the late Summer. I've learned the hard way that a GDD and a project plan which is at it's fullest state before you begin development makes developing much easier.  With my experience in previous companies I should have known better (*slaps hand*).  There's nothing like failing from your own mistakes to make you change your ways.

So if you have an Android device running the 2.3 OS or higher please download my game when it's released, review it and if you have any suggestions send me feedback via Twitter, the Facebook page or the new site.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

July to December Update!

Since the last post I have gone on my hen night, switched jobs, got married and been on my honeymoon so I have not been as focused as I should have been on my mobile game.   My time gaming has also suffered (I've not even played The Walking Dead yet :() but with the imminent release of BS5 and the third installation of The Longest Journey game I have been trying to get through my Steam and GOG backlog of the games in these series so that I am fresh when the latest ones arrive.  I've also abandoned my obsession with Tiny Tower.  After I lost the "race" to have the most floors within a circle of my friends I gave up and only play occasionally.  But I still have lots of games to keep me busy to the end of next year at least. 

Firstly, I have decided on the working title of my mobile game, Werdz.  This still needs to be AB tested and I'm not sure if the spelling will confuse people searching for the game in the Play Store but I like it for the moment.

These were my goals the last time I posted and how I have progressed through each task.

- Smiley: This needs to be extended to check if the player has already guessed that word, if the guessed word is incorrect and output the appropriate smiley's for these events but I'm sure it won't be a difficult task

The smiley's progress has remained the same.  It still only outputs if the player enters a correctly matching word.  However, I have now removed the need to use the "Enter" button to compare the string entered to the word that you are guessing meaning that players can continue to guess more words and gain more score without taking a break from the fast-paced action as every second counts.

- Resizing/repositioning elements for different screen sizes

The menu buttons have been resized so that they adjust when played on different devices.  After figuring out this I briefly began to re-arrange the element of the main game screens but decided to move on as I didn't have a concrete decison on the GUI layout.

- Rework of the GUI

I've hopefully come up with a design that is not too cluttered, the player's will be able to use easily and will understand the use of just by looking.  After working this out I didn't go back and reposition the elements as I probably should have.  But I wanted to concentrate on creating the random word selection algorithm.  Then I had other ideas to further refine the game.  These additions to the gameplay again influenced the GUI layout.

I now will have 3 different difficulty levels for each game mode.  The player will be able to view a hint
using the '?' button depending on whether they are on the easy difficulty.  The words will also be categorised and if the player had the difficulty set to easy or medium they will see the category image.  Hopefully these additions will make the challenge of this game more interesting. 

- Increase the time that the blocks switch

The time that the blocks switch has been increased from 3 seconds to 10 seconds.  This gives the players a lot more time to not get caught off guard by the switching mechanic and makes them feel less restricted if they make mistakes.

- Create a random word selection algorithm

To my surprise I managed to get this completed in a shorter time than I had thought.  I ran into some annoying issues such as when comparing two matching strings from two arrays the values were not matching up.  Thankfully Unity Answers came through and after two simple additions this was done.  Once this was working within one game mode it was simply a case of tweaking it pick a new random word at a different time, and that was the second game mode done too.  Well...almost.  The remaining work for these game modes is to ensure when the word is correctly guessed the board switches and new word is generated (and that the switch timer is reset). My first attempt has failed so I'm having to redo this.


I've been thinking of trying to reduce the amount of words that player's can enter so that this will reduce the apk size and make the gameplay a bit less harsh.  Now that the player was guessing one specific word as opposed to spelling whatever word they could make from the randomly generated letters, I decided to reduce the list of words that the game could select from.  It was then that I thought of theming each release.  This would in turn attract specific players who were interested in the theme, signifcantly reduce the list of words to guess from and focused them on a specific subject.  Hopefully this change has made it a lot easier for players.

- Output a block switching timer so the player knows exactly when the blocks will be switching and are prepared for it.


- Increase the time that the blocks switch


Hopefully by the end of January I will have a fully functional version of the game which will be amazing.  Then after it will be a case finishing the graphics so the game is at release quality.

But first I will have to do the following:

- Rework of the GUI gameplay elements for the Galaxy S3 and other Android operated phones
- Ensure the gameboard switches correctly when a word is correctly guessed
- Output the hint for the word when '?' is pressed (only when difficulty is easy or medium)
- Output the category
- Set difficulty when respective buttons are selected

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Well it's the end of July now...

...and here's a progress image of my mobile game as it was when I was working on Gingerbread (Android 3.2).

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Late May Update: What's been accomplished

So progress with my mobile project has gone slower than I'd thought and liked, but that's life and until I win the lottery and become an indie developer I think there will be inevitable delays to my project's work schedule.

Any who...I guess I started this project a couple of months ago and so far I have completed the following:
  • Layout of the menu flow and one game mode scene
  • Input of letters and output of their corresponding value (once submit button is pressed)
  • Submit button to clear array and output word score
  • Delete button to clear array
  • Store a list of "dummy" data a.k.a four letter words
  • Player score incremented when the correct word is entered
There's so much more for me to do and it can get a little depressing thinking about everything that I need to get through to achieve this massive goal solo, but I will finish this game and publish it.

I have also spent time this month documenting the game fully so that in the event that I need to convince anyone external to the project that it's awesome and they should support me financially I have this to whip out.

The design has changed since I started this project a number of times, but I feel that I finally have a good game designed and will not be making any more massive changes to the design only tweaks.  I did initially want to use June to tidy up the code and improve the UI but as I still have a lot of the functionality unfinished there's no point in wasting time playing in Photoshop making designs for a game that's not nearly finished.

Once I have the word matching script sorted out that will be quite a significant part of the work done as it's the core functionality for all game modes.  So then and only then will I get to add fantastic colours to my game, I'm hoping this will drive me forwards and act a reward for me.

With the release of Ice-cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) on Android and my phone contract coming up for renewal it's a great time for me to test whether my game will work on this new firmware update.  So once I get my upgrade (when I decide on a phone) I'll be testing the game in both versions of Android.

Game-wise, I completed Mass Effect 3 and have now started Darksiders.  This month I don't intend to get as much gaming done as work on my mobile game.  This should ensure I haven't got the added pressure of having to do both and should let me work on the word matching functionality.

I've seriously failed on producing a game dissection of both ME3 and Blue Toad and I probably won't get it done this month either at least not early this month anyway.  Luckily both of these are still fresh in my mind so I can write up something when I do have some spare time later this month.

So this month the plan is:
  • More mobile game development with a hope to get the word matching complete, some output for the player when they enter a word, saving to their profile high score board and implementing a pause menu.  
  • Game: Darksiders
If anyone's got an Android phone and would be interested in helping me test my game once it's ready let me know :)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

May: Progress update

So around mid-May I finally completed Mass Effect 3. So now I have two game dissections to write before the end of the month. I could probably get the single player of Portal 2 out of the way before June hits (I know it's shocking that I haven't played it yet) but I'm going to use this time to work solely on my mobile game. Progress took a nose dive after the last update post but I have gotten back on the horse and am back to work.

Hopefully my friends with Android phones will let me share with them the first version.