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Overload: Day 1

Exhausted, just home from the first day of Overload, probably not going to be too long out of bed.

It was an interesting day. Didn't start out so well. I did a last minute test of the CD and found two issues

  1. Not all of the games directly worked from the CD. While it's obvious that save games, custom configs etc wouldn't work, I didn't expect it to actually break some of the games (I should have tested it in a read-only environment earlier). So certain games either require an install, or simply require a copy to hard disk.
  2. There is a bug in the launcher system where, for some games the menu music will continue to play during the game. I have no idea how I missed it.

Obviously since I can't repatch the CDs, I typed up a note explaining the issues (and where to find the patched menu.exe file, which I fixed and uploaded this morning - if you want it) to put inside the cases. Since Warehouse Stationary doesn't open until 9am on a Sat, and Overload was opening to the Artists at 8:30am, I thought I'd better set up at Overload first.

I arrived to a technical hitch, although I had both a 3m power cord extension and a power box, the closest power point was five meters away and two meters off the ground. Even then, I couldn't run power cables directly between there and my laptop as it'd be a health and saftey issue, I needed to run it around the neighbouring tables. So on my way to Warehouse stationary I resolved to buy a 10m power cord extension.

No problem buying the 10m power cord extension, but getting the notes printed in A6 took approximately 40 minutes. The biggest issue was the Anti-Virus software checking my pen drive, my pen drive has extensive backups and took a long time to scan through. There were several people behind me who also wanted stuff printed from pen drives, so I felt really bad about making them wait.

A smaller issue was that the Warehouse Stationary don't actually do A6, so they printed on A5 with two sheets per page and then guillotined it in half. It took them multiple test prints to get everything properly formatted and orientated before they could do the full print run. The end result of all of this is that I got back just shy of the 10am opening time, and had to rush to finish setting up the laptop!

I'm sharing the table with Anthony and Sergio (who are selling copies of their comics) who did a really great job playing and marketing the games to the public. The games were being played by attendees all day, though sales were a bit shy of the break even point (The fact that there were a few sales though, was encouraging. This marks the first time I've ever actually sold a game that I helped develop). Feedback was mostly very positive, I think Blow Stuff Up and The Kiwi's Tale in particular were well received and frequently played. There was one guy who managed to (mostly solo) beat Blow Stuff Up on easy on his first try! Even more interesting was the fact that he did it with the harder-to-use XBox 360 controller rather than mouse and keyboard.

Quite a few people took one of the business cards with my email and URL on it - If you're one of them, hi there, welcome to my site! 

What really helped market the games was an LCD screen generously loaned by Mark. The setup was the LCD screen facing the audience, the laptop facing us, and while we played with mouse and keybord the audience could simutaneously play with an XBox 360 for windows controller.

The event was great. We were treated to a brilliant performance by champion cosplayer Yuri Inaba, who sung, danced and dressed as Vocaloid character Hatsune Miku. Lots of great artwork on display, I probably bought between 20 and 30 A3 prints and a smaller number of A4 prints. They were very reasonably priced (none were more than $5, some were even given out free at the end of the day). There was one other table selling games, it's a visual novel with very attractive looking graphics. I'll do a review of it sometime.

Tomorrow at Overload is when I'm sitting on the "How to get into gaming panel". Hopefully I don't look like too much of a fool!


Overload tomorrow

I collected the physical copies of the Earok 2011 Collection today, here they all are.

Tomorrow is the beginning of Overload and the end of the long, arduous process of polishing, porting and packaging the games for the collection. It promises to be a great event with awesome art and fantastic cosplay. And hopefully I can walk away from the event with a few more people having played my games, and not having looked too foolish on the game developers panel!

Too tired to think of much else to say. Gonna go sleep.

Vader Sessions

"That's right, Sally!"


Earok 2011 Collection: Gone gold!

The Earok 2011 Collection has gone Gold! Official page is still coming, but for the mean time you can grab it here.

Here is what's different to the individual versions of the games on the site:

  • Blow Stuff Up: General bug fixes.
  • Derelict: New "1 Player Solo" mode for those who prefer action to strategy. Some tweaks to the story to match my current "vision" of the Derelict universe.
  • Firestart: Overhaul of graphics and story (making it a prequel to Derelict) and XBox 360 controller support (Note: I haven't been able to comprehensively playtest it, so there may be remaining showstopping bugs).
  • Heart of Ice: Two player co-operative mode, joypad support, and brilliant new score by Sergio Cornaga.
  • Noah More Heroes: General bug fixes.
  • The Kiwi's Tale: General bug fixes.
  • WitchBlaster: Anthony's new DJ Bat Boss, which might be the coolest thing ever.
  • All with HTML manuals and can be opened from a launcher application.

The collection represents almost five years of my freeware game development efforts. A limited "Promotional Release" run will be sold at Overload this weekend, but I'll definitely be distributing a few free copies to the scores of people who have collaborated with me on the games.

I have a lot of people to thank for all of the help they've sunk into the collection, but for this release I'd especially like to thank (in no particular order):

  • Mark Sibly for the brilliant Blitz series of languages - the games on the collection are all from the latest three iterations (Blitz3D, BlitzMax and Monkey).
  • Sam Jeffreys, for being a constant help for the past five years.
  • Anthony Lau, for the brilliant art contributed to WitchBlaster and Blow Stuff Up.
  • Sergio Cornaga, for Heart of Ice's new score.
  • Cobra Blade, for the cover art and vastly improved interface for Derelict.
  • Seong J Oh, for letting me use a table at the Graphic Novel Cafe every Saturday to work on the collection.
  • Gui Chirinéa, for, amongst other things, the Portuguese translations of Kiwi's Tale and Blow Stuff Up.
  • Christian Toft, Pater Alf, and the awesome guys at Curly's World of Freeware for their help and support.
  • Arran Ubels, for being by far the most prolific commentor on the site.
  • Stephen Knightly, for his enormous effort to help foster the Auckland game developer's community, also for having patience while our other projects slowed down when I was working on this!
  • Kirsty Win, for her love and support.
  • Anyone who has ever contributed to, or provided feedback for, any one of my games.

Well, that's it for now. I'll probably re-release the individual games over the next few weeks, but there's definitely a lot of other stuff I need to catch up on before I get back into game development.

Coming next year: The Earok 2012 collection, and maybe BattleSuit.


Edit - I should put together a trailer before overload, though I don't claim to be an expect in that field so I'd love it if someone could put something together. Ideally it should have footage from all seven games, including their two player modes.

Earok 2011 Collection: Going Gold on Tuesday

The Earok 2011 Collection is going gold on Tuesday, when I send the box art (currently in progress by Cobra Blade, looking great so far) and the data to the CD printers. Simutaneously I'll release the downloadable version of the collection here.

I'll be getting a limited run of 50 to sell at Overload, though depending on how well they sell, I may get some more done (anyone who did any work on the games is entitled to a copy, plus I want to give some to family and friends).


Heart of Ice Monkey Alpha (Edit: Now Beta)

Well, here's the not-quite-done alpha build of Heart of Ice in Monkey. Performs best in IE9. Controls are cursor keys, Z and X. Two player mode, dialogue, audio and misc tweaks are still on the way.



Edit - This is now the beta version. Thanks to Sam, Arran, Sergio, Stephen and Mark for feedback. Also to Sam again for helping me polish and tone down the dialogue.

The game has been tested in Chrome, IE9, Opera, Safari and Firefox. Unfortunately, for whatever reason it doesn't work on Firefox and I can't work out where the problem lies, though since every other browser performs fine I can perhaps be forgiven for blaming Mozilla!

Enemies aim projectile weapons more accurately. Also, you can hold down C to strafe.

There is dialogue all the way through the game, including an ending. Temporary stand-in music and sound effects has been added (mostly from WitchBlaster, the music for that was done by Thinkt). All that's left to add is a new score, two player mode and possibly difficulty levels.

Edit 2 - Want to play the game at your computer's native resolution? Now you can. That said, at least on my computer this absolutely chugs on anything slower than IE9 (which, at the time of writing, is everything).

Cop Dog Review

"Harry Plinket", the mad genius behind the hour long Phantom Menace review, returns with what may be his funniest and most NSFW movie review ever.

Misc Project Update

Did minor stuff for all of my games yesterday

  • Blow Stuff Up: As per some feedback from Curly's World, fixed the readme to explain how to actually play the game!
  • Derelict: There is now a new gameplay mode: 1 Player Solo. This one plays more or less as a traditional first person shooter, your "squad" consists of a single soldier who has all of the abilities that the previous entire team had. Of course, you can still find "red shirt" Marines to help you out in a pinch.
  • Firestart: Mainly graphical and narrative tweaks. The next major thing I have to finish is a revamp of the menus and terminals before it's ready for release. Don't have time for two player co-operative at this stage.
  • Heart of Ice: Added some basic dialogue (text) to the game. I'll also need to add sound before the next release, not sure if I'll just readd the Global Game Jam stuff or get something better. Also, musn't forget two player.
  • The Kiwi's Tale: Fixed a silly bug that stopped it from saving and loading joystick port settings correctly.
  • Noah More Heroes: Just added it to the Earok Collection launcher. Not really sure there's much more worth adding in the time I have left.
  • WitchBlaster: Went a bit overkill with particle effects, I tried to replicate the flashy effect of the "magic missile" in Heart o Ice. Doesn't look too bad.

Only two more weekends until the Earok 2011 collection has to be ready. I can't see it being as polished as I wanted it to be, but it'll have to do.

Duke Nukem 3D High Resolution Pack

Disappointed by Duke Nukem Forever? Looks like you are not alone.

Fortunately there is a way to ease your pain. Check out the Duke Nukem High Resolution Pack, not only designed to make Duke Nukem 3D playable on modern operating systems, but it also brings the controls and graphics much closer to the modern standard. In the Youtube trailer above, check out the sweet, sweet dynamic lighting.

You don't even need to own Duke Nukem 3D to play it, as the Shareware episode is bundled in the download. However I do recommend picking up a copy of Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition if you don't have it already.

Kinect API Beta

The beta API for the Kinect has been released, and can be used by C++ and C# applications. I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but Michael has - the Youtube clip above is of his wireframe image in his first Kinect application. Apparently you don't actually need an XBox 360 to start programming a Kinect so I'll need to pick one up sometime.

Also quietly contemplating writing a wrapper for Monkey for the Kinect (as part of a library of XNA specific extentions), but that'll have to wait until after Overload is out of the way with.