Archive for February, 2009
Thursday, February 26th, 2009
Match making is in – just got to test it tomorrow then it’s in the beta. That means we’re only “some kind of tutorial” short of ramping things up. Once match making is in I’ll be targetting a few more people to start playing.
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
I read through yesterday’s post and realised it had more typos than usual… sorry about that.
As I said yesterday, I get gaps in tv stuff waiting for Canadian coder support to reply. In those gaps today I’ll be playing Synapse against my Esteemed Colleague (who’s working on music in Birmingham) and designing the match-making system. Matchmaking and some kind of useful tutorial are what’s standing between some kind of working closed beta.
I’m always torn between ease-of-use and features. If you did look at Endplays in beta1 then you saw what I think is the zenith really – a one-button-to-play system with plenty of power but all hidden. Getting to a multiturn game right now is too hard, and as part of matchmaking I’ll be putting in a one-button-to-play system. You’ll just play against the next person to come along on a randomly chosen map. We’ll see how that goes.
Monday, February 23rd, 2009
When I get stuck with TV coding, I have to post on a paid-for support forum. When the Canadians who service said forum decide like answering, I can continue. While I wait, I fix Synapse bugs.
The beta has been updated, and you can now play multiturn and try out the revised endplays. I haven’t made a big deal about it because until matchmaking is in I don’t really see people playing outside of Mode7, but if you fancy a game mail me or hit me up in IRC and I’ll sort it out.
I’m hoping to get a preliminary matchmaking service in this week. At that point, I really hope people will start giving it a go.
I’m reading Greg Bear’s new book, “The City at the End of Time”, and very much enjoying it. it’s a quite dark, portentious soft-sci fi novel and I can recommend it so far.
I’ve been meaning to post about Spelunky (it’s free, just google it), but haven’t got around to it yet. It’s probably my favorite game on the last year… it’s a procedural platform game and it’s almost perfect. I’m slightly dissapointed with the third zone, but I really can’t recommend this any higher.
Thursday, February 19th, 2009
I’m snatching some time from TV for Synapse today, as Esteemed Colleague is coming to the office and we have much to talk about.
Hanging literally in the balance will be if you guys get a new closed beta today. That will depend on one thing – what we think about upgrading the move-aim system. I don’t want everyone to get used to the old one only to find it changed significantly. We’ll see.
Monday, February 16th, 2009
I’ve got some tv work to do this week, but the big news is Synapse.
For everyone who’s new or who’s forgotten, Synapse is a Turn Based Simultanous Execution game. Standard multiplayer, or “Multiturn” as we call it, is most like a game of Laser Squad Nemesis (but is in fact very different from that even. Same structure though).
Anyway, Multiturn is playing extremely nicely, and I’m very excited about it. I expect it to speak for itself when you start playing it. I’ll probably roll out another closed beta next week. If you’ve played the earlier Synapse beta, you were playing “Endplay”, which is another facet to Synapse. I’m not surprised people didn’t really understand it, and I think Multiturn will be much more accessible at this stage.
Before we even consider an open beta we need to get the game looking better. Chemeleon is doing some great work on that front, but we’ve got a fair way to go. We’ll also need a matchmaking system so you can get a game easily if you don’t have an opponent already lined up. I think the first open beta might not have sound, but I don’t know yet, we’ll see.
Thursday, February 12th, 2009
My village, which houses our office, is pretty badly flooded. Every eight years or so you get flooding so bad that you can’t drive to my house but you can canoe around the village on the flooded roads. I have to park at the other side of the village and climb accross a load of fences to get to work O_o. Here I am though!
Exciting times for Synapse this week, as I finally get the SENSATION I’ve been looking for from it. I’m very much hoping the beta will relaunch soon so you guys can play against me. I have to fix this annoying bug first though…
Sunday, February 8th, 2009
Generative content (not a term I especially like) is very very indie. Why? Because small teams don’t have the assets to create a huge amount of content. Computers can do it for us, often very well.
I, however, want to seperate myself out from the general indie affection for randomly generated content. I’m an absolutely massive fan of generative stuff for a much deeper reason than “it’s easier”. I’m a complete novelty-freak, and the last thing I want to do is go back to a game and play the same levels over and over. I’ve put a huge number of hours into F Zero X’s Random mode – despite the generator not being particularly good if I’m honest – and it’s one of the reasons I’m a big fan of Alpha Centauri, Diablo, Bridge Baron, and multiplayer games. Unlike some people, I do not want the entire experience designed for me by a human unless I’m playing an fps.
Synapse is based in a very large part on random generation. If you ever find yourself wanting to choose a particular map, I’ve failed. Synapse was designed from the ground up to be about every level being new. And thus – to segue nicely into what I did today – I worked on the random level generator today.
When making a game as an indie and especially when creating a game based on original mechanics, it’s difficult to know what to work on next. EC and I fired off several mails to each other this week based on that. Well, Synapse has been running off an extremely dodgy random level generator so far, and with the arrival of No Huddle (MORE LATER) I decided that it was vital that the levels started resembling places and moved away from simple cut out parts of a big map.
In general, you have to correctly identify what’s holding your in-development game back. It’s actually one of the most important skills. Is the problem that the core mechanic needs work? Or does the interface just need dragging out of the stone age? Do you need to hone the control of your character, or do you need more variety? If you target the wrong area, you waste one hell of a lot of time.
The reason that I decided to work on the random level generator is because I’ve decided to try a new deployment system for No Huddle, where the offense starts in a location on a street, and the defense can deploy inside *any* buildings. I also want to improve the feeling that you are exploring/breaching an actual location. (Don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to know when what’s on the critical path is part of the aesthetic… that’s a whole other nightmare).
Anyway, I’ve almost got Random Level Generator version 2 in with Bin’s help I hope to have it fully functioning by tomorrow evening.
Saturday, February 7th, 2009
NASN kept me warm during some difficult times. I won’t say anything more for now.
I’m not blogging much right now, apologies to all. When the next beta is ready, I’ll be a lot more verbose.
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
RIP NASN. “Renamed” to ESPN America, it looks the same so far, but whatever happens I owe about 300 hours of happyness and respite from the channel whose name is no more.
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
It’s still tomorrow in Ascension Island.
Right, updates in order of importance.
Esteemed Colleague and I are working extremely hard getting the next beta ready. I’m not an early-to-beta guy. As I’m pretty sure you know by now. The next one will be good, and it will be FAIRLY soon.
I didn’t blog to warn you but Krypton Factor last thursday had a fully Mode 7 developed game on it. Catch the youtube. Big props to JamesU again.
Something’s still coming from us which will please all of you
Now onto football.
Had an absolutely fantastic time with EC, Thomas, Clacy, Bin, Burn, Liz, Andrea, and WIlliam. However. Two people I read often – Michael Wilbon and gasp Peter King – are calling it the best super bowl ever. This is very very clearly wrong. I cannot think of a single metric by which it was better than last years’. Well, apart from the fact we won some money on a DST touchdown bet.
Football in general
The only thing between now and the long dark offseason of the soul is the probowl (and getting Liz to allow me ot watch it). Pretty depressing. The draft is the oasis in the desert, but is too fleeting to look forward to.