Category Archives: official releases

A Dev Blog for Iridescent Crown

New Trailers

Iridescent Crown 1.2 is now out, and here are some trailers for it. 🙂 You can play the game for free in your browser, and you can buy the Windows version.

This is the new official trailer, which runs through World 1.

 

Some gameplay footage with a projectile weapon.

 

Showcasing a few different weapons.

 

Finding a rare weapon, and the implications thereof.

 

Dev Blog for Iridescent Crown

I didn’t chronologue this like I normally do, so this is in no particular order. Most of this final work was done between March 11th and 14th.

 

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Firstly, I made a new logo for my games (and websites in general). It’s inspired by the SEGA logo, as well as the Inuyasha logo. The color purple is a nice mix of royal and feminine. Seeing my first name in katakana is pretty awesome too. Creating a new logo was a small detail, but also a big deal in its own way. I love the sound I picked to go with it – reminds me of starting up the PSX or PS2.

 

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Adding the controls before you begin the game got the most positive feedback from my friends. It’s good to know it’s not too confusing to the eyes.

If you get a strong weapon early enough in the game, nothing beyond that is a challenge. So I made them much more rare in the early levels. The difficulty curve is much smoother now. You’ll have to fight many more enemies to find a weapon worth keeping now, which makes them more valuable.

The large enemies were invincible to close-range attacks, and required projectiles to kill. I realized this was annoying and removed their invulnerability.

 

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I also added a separate room for the shopkeeper. A door allows you to “leave” the room if you don’t like the random weapon you buy, which quickly resets the room. I added several NPCs in this room that give you additional tips to playing the game. I added more lines to the tutorial as well (about the map and radar).

 

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I added a legend to the map on the pause screen, which tells you what the marks mean. Makes it a lot easier to read!

 

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One other big change came at the very end, when I added damage points that visibly appear when you hit or get hit. This really helps with the “feel” of the fighting system.

There was also a glitch you could get by pausing on the game over screen, which I fixed after a friend reminded me about it. 🙂

I experimented with changing the graphics a bit, but when that didn’t work I decided to leave things as they are. I also intended to add a bit more “story” to the game, but in the end this didn’t seem necessary.

 

New Trajectories

I’m still pretty disappointed GMS2 isn’t bringing more tools to the table that I don’t already have. It kills some of the plans I had for extending my current projects – namely adding more features to the music generators.

I was really hoping they would add support for MIDI files (or any music files, really), so I could export the music my games generate. One huge problem is GM is terrible with tempo – even delta_timing isn’t always reliable. I removed the drums from Seraphim Automata to avoid lag issues with running the sequel in HTML5. It sucks because I really like the drum generation system. It may be worth recycling into another desktop game.

One of Iridescent Crown‘s biggest limitations was the 640×480 resolution, which was necessary for HTML5 but awful for the Windows version. It fits the pixel art style, but it’s difficult to appreciate the random level design when the window is so small.

It’s not like I ever had to shrink the window though. The window was small from the start, because 640×480 games were more common when I started this (in 2010). So the game is a bit of a relic in its own way, and begs for a sequel.

I think I’m done with the music generation, sadly. Unless I integrate it into one of the platformers. And I don’t know when I’ll have another platformer underway. If Iridescent Crown gets more feedback, I might feel more confident about the sequel. Either way, I think I’m done with HTML5 versions of my games. It was a nice experiment.

I will probably keep watching how this year unfolds for video games, while I go back to working on music and short stories.

 

Why I Don’t Play New Games

So the new Zelda game is out, as well as Nier: Automata and a ton of other great games. It looks like 2017 is already shaping up to be the best year for gaming since 2004.

I’m not really riding the hype train so much as watching through other’s eyes though, thanks to platforms like twitch and youtube. I have next to no interest in playing these new games, or getting or whatever, when I can just watch other people play the games for me. I don’t really care about the new Switch either (unless I can get my own game on it, of course).

New games aren’t innovative enough to be worth spending my money on. They just seem like higher quality versions of stuff I was playing in the 2000s.

I don’t care about perfect graphics. I care about deep mechanics that allow for more experimentation, and therefore more replayability. The AAA industry, because of its massive time and budget constraints, simply isn’t built for experimentation.

Nowadays you get your standard “open world” game with 30+ hours of side quests. NPC interactions are still very shallow. Too many games are content to crib Minecraft’s crafting system, rather than implement their own unique ideas. Too few have tried to innovate the “gameplay-cutscene-gameplay” problem.

Fandoms allow companies to cash in on the same IP over and over. So they aren’t likely to take a risk to appeal to an “experimental” niche like mine. Why do that, when they can just throw Link into another sandbox game and sell that?

Nier: Automata looks great, but I could also just pop in Kingdom Hearts from 2002. We haven’t progressed that far. The same could be said about the new Zelda vs Wind Waker from 2004. Nintendo and Square Enix don’t need to innovate when they can cash in on their established formulas.

I’ve also noticed a lot of my friends complaining more and more about their massive “backlogs” of games they’ve bought but haven’t played. It makes me wonder if this is how the indiepocalypse will actually unfold. You can finally make your dream game with the right tools – but it doesn’t matter because nobody has time for it.


Algorithm for Angel Wings

Algorithm for Angel Wings

Play it in your browser here (or download it for Windows).

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I decided to make a more user-friendly version of Seraphim Automata, after I finally got it to stop running at 1 frame per second in HTML5. I started this on January 30th, and most of the work was done by the next day.

I went back on February 3rd and added an autoplay feature for the start menu – something I haven’t done since Cosmic Zephyr in 2013. The next day I fixed glitches in the menu, and added a save function for high scores and combos. I also made some new touchscreen buttons in Photoshop. Then I released the game for feedback.

I went back the next day and fixed a few bugs that were pointed out to me. Specifically, you could break the GUI by racking up a massive combo. (I’m still surprised someone got a 44 hit combo on the first day of its release. My own record is 19.)

The very last thing I added was the glove sprite for the mouse, which gives it one little human element.

The touchscreen controls allow this to be played on a mobile device, as well as in a desktop browser. Which is nice. The only reason I haven’t uploaded an Android version is because the export module is currently broken in GMS. I’m hoping this will be fixed in GMS2.

You can select from 12 scales, 12 keys, 10 time signatures, and 13 different instruments. The time signatures are the real key to getting different patterns – it’s automatically set to 12/8 while the scale, key and instrument are randomly chosen. 10/8, 7/8 and 4/4 produce my favorite patterns. 4/4 in particular can create very jovial rhythmic patterns.

 

Flashbacks, From 2010 to Now

When designing a game (or any project, really), you have to decide early on who you are making this for. Are you making it for yourself or for other people? That decision between “passion project” vs “product” will lead you down two very different roads.

I would say my games were passion projects until about 2010. That includes my two oldest surviving games, A Starspangled Zephyr and Deadman’s Dark Scenery Court. I felt no pressure making my early games since I was mostly doing it for myself.

When my cocaine addict of a father was finally removed from the picture in November 2010, mom and I shifted pretty quickly to survival mode. I found myself selling most of my belongings to keep us from going broke. One major reason I abandoned songwriting is because I had to sell almost all my musical instruments. That miserable era lasted for about 19 months.

By the time we lost our home in March 2012, I had shifted to a more workaholic attitude about game design. I wanted to make a polished product I could sell and hopefully get out of poverty. That never really worked, but it definitely affected how I approached the games I made in that era, Cosmic Zephyr and Eden’s Prison.

One major event was being raided by the police in December 2013. Which happened to be four weeks into development on Eden’s Prison. The fall out from that led to a period of inactivity through 2014 and 2015. Another factor was injuring my right arm in August 2014 – it’s still recovering and I’ve only recently begun feeling “normal” again.

I finally returned to game development after leaving a toxic group of old programmers in early 2016. There is no coincidence that I had the best year of my life after leaving them (2016, that is). The new games – Seraphim Automata, Zephyr 3, Iridescent Crown – still suffer a bit from the “product” mentality, but I’m slowly moving back to making strictly passion projects for myself.

My ongoing experiments with music generation are one indication of this. Now that Algorithm for Angel Wings fleshes out the Seraphim engine into something very easily accessible, I feel comfortable moving on from those experiments.

Zephyr 3 also tries to atone for its previous games by offering the source code for free.

It feels bittersweet to release Iridescent Crown over 6 years after I started it (just look at the 640×480 resolution if you need proof of how old it is). The mainstream roguelike genre (or ‘roguelite’ if you prefer) completely blew up and died in that timeframe. Now similar games like Terraria and Spelunky are gathering dust, and there aren’t as many fans around looking for another roguelike or exploration based platformer.

The resulting game is both old and young at the same time – with the former compromising the latter. I’m thinking about revisiting it and releasing a “deluxe” version with a bigger window and other features that the HTML5 version couldn’t handle.

 

Beginning of the End

I’ve boiled my new ideas down to two main projects, plus an extra passion project.

  1. The first idea is of course a horror game. I haven’t made once since 2010, back when I was a very different person. This one will be a 2d platformer, but beyond that I haven’t decided on much. There are multiple concepts and stories I keep bouncing around for this one. I surround myself with horror influences so this idea never really leaves me, it’s just a matter of execution.
  2. The second idea is a sequel to Iridescent Crown, with better graphics and more RPG elements, and hopefully a better name. I would actually argue that in 2017, procedural generation is going out of style for now. Especially after the debacle over No Man’s Sky. So while I want to release a more polished sequel, I’m not sure if it’s really the best time to be working on something like that.
    I could of course scrap the procedural generation and go with … level design. The argument for procedural generation increasing replayability goes out the window when you use it so much that nothing sticks. That’s one problem with Iridescent Crown in its current form. Since all 16 levels are using the same “room”, none of them can be saved and revisited later.
    The other problem is that there is no reason to revisit levels right now. So it needs more collectibles, an EXP system, and perhaps other things.
  3. The last idea is a Sonic fangame, which would be a complete passion project. But it would be a lot more fun to make than my original games, simply because it’s something I always wanted to do. I am looking forward to seeing how Sonic Mania turns out before diving too deep into this one, as I wouldn’t want it to be too similar.

Iridescent Crown and Zephyr 3 are officially complete!

Iridescent Crown

Play it here!

I uploaded a new HTML5 version of Iridescent Crown with a few important bug fixes. The soundtrack has been added, and the Windows version is now available to purchase.  🙂

The release has been somewhat marred by ISP problems, but at least I had the game up in time for Christmas (and Diablo’s 20th anniversary!). One of the bugs screwed up the ending sequence, which, along with missing the soundtrack, made me feel less than comfortable sharing the game around. But now everything’s cool.

I’m really glad to have this game out of my way. I started it way back in 2010, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to turn out until recently. A lot of things just happened to come together at the end – like the final boss and ending sequence, which I’d been turning ideas over for years, but ultimately only needed a few hours to throw something together.

Finding the right graphics+sfx resources to fill in certain roles was also essential in speeding up the creation process. I don’t feel too bad about using cc0 enemy sprites in my game, because the alternative would be a game that’s still unfinished.  😛

I’ll follow up with a more complete dev blog when I have some time. Right now I’m working on trailers for the game. Stay tuned.  🙂

 

Zephyr 3 bug

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As I suspected, there was only one line glitching up this game and keeping it from running in HTML5. As soon as I dropped “direction_to_object” and changed it to “point_direction” – essentially the same function with a different approach – the damn thing loaded up fine in HTML5. It even lags less than I expected. You can play it in your browser here.

Game Maker Studio is weird sometimes. Only 173 lines of code in this game, and it took just one to break everything. To contrast, Iridescent Crown’s engine is +6 years old, bloated as fuck yet somehow works fine in HTML5.

The source code is available for anyone who wants to learn how to make this type of game.

Zephyr 3 basically marks the end of the Zephyr series. But not the engine itself – I plan to use it again in the future.  🙂

 

Planning for Steam Greenlight

I should be getting better internet in mid-February. So for now, I’m going to focus on recording gameplay footage of my projects. Then I will upload the videos and see where to go from there. I’ve recently managed to get OBS working with my computer – though not with the best quality.

Every article about “indie game marketing” stresses the importance of Twitter, but I don’t think Twitter is as helpful as it seems when it comes to getting your game out there. I get a good amount of likes and retweets whenever I post screenshots or links, but honestly they don’t translate to people clicking on my game often. So “marketing my game” usually feels like wasted time that could be better spent on development. It does help to chronologue my development, but that’s about it.

Gamers make ~93% of their purchases on Steam. So… I probably need to get a game on Steam. People don’t buy games often enough on itch.io.

I’m most proud of Seraphim Automata, but it may be too weird / experimental for Steam. I’m also not sure what audience it appeals to in its current state. What “genre” is it, for instance? It lacks a certain long-term replayability that could be solved with more musical variations (read: a sequel). I may revisit it some time later and add more traditional gameplay features.

I’m also proud of Iridescent Crown, but wary because I haven’t gotten much feedback. And it’s definitely not as unique as SA. It’s really hard to strike a balance between innovative and traditional in game design. Any ideas people give me for IC will probably be saved for a sequel as well, since I’m happy with it in its current state.

While I do have more “work” ahead as far as marketing and making trailers, for once I can finally say that I have nothing left to work on in the field of game design. My existing projects are 100% complete. Which means I can let myself take a break.

… I hope.

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Iridescent Crown is out! Looking for Pixel Artists

Iridescent Crown

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You can play it in your browser here. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’m still working on adding updates – namely touchscreen controls. The random generation for levels and weapons is inspired by Diablo.

My internet’s been broken the past few weeks, which is why I haven’t uploaded a version with music. Hopefully that will change soon.  🙂

 

New Stories

I added two new horror stories! AMETHYST 2.0 “Safe Version” was a strange idea I’ve had for a while. The premise itself read interestingly, but I could never figure out how to approach it from any of the main character’s perspectives. So I ultimately just took the original premise, edited it a bit and presented it as classified information from some secret agency.

I repeated this formula to some extent with AMETHYST 3.0 “Leon’s Story”. It’s a concept that’s been bothering me for a while, regarding how to express it. The connecting theme in the AMETHYST series so far seems to be ouija boards and alternate identities. I know this version doesn’t make a lot of sense and probably reads like a David Lynch script. But I may revisit the idea later.

“Ouroboros” is my shortest story so far, at only 667 words. It was originally the premise for a video game – the text would have been given in bits as you progressed.

I also added a new angel story called “The Rebirth of Raphael”, which I wrote back in May. I was planning to write more stories in this world and it just hasn’t happened yet.

I’m currently working on AMETHYST 1.0 “Corrupt Version” and a few secret stories, so look forward to those!

 

Year End Summary

2016 has been a pretty good year for me. I released three games this year. I released my first game that runs in a browser. I released my first game with “infinite replayability”. I finally finished a platformer I started +6 years ago.

I tackled procedural music generation for the first time in Seraphim Automata. I made a small music tool that lets you generate music with Conway’s Game of Life. I released a music tool that lets you explore microtonality in your browser.

I also translated one of my games into 7 languages.

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I discovered this earlier this year, on a Chinese website that pirates my game. The fact that my game has been pirated at all still intrigues and amuses me a bit. I always wanted to see that game in kanji, so it’s ironic but fitting.

I’ve done everything I’ve wanted with game design so far, so I feel comfortable taking a long break. I’m looking forward to GMS 2 coming out. I have no concrete plans for any new projects unless I collaborate with a visual artist.

I’m hoping when I return to game development, I’ll be working with a radically different artistic style than these games. It doesn’t have to be an “art game”, but I would like to make something more avant-garde. Or at least more modern.

On the other hand, I’ve fallen pretty far behind with music. I’ve barely written anything since last year. So that will be my main focus for 2017.  🙂

 

Looking for Pixel Artists

If you want to collaborate on a future project, feel free to contact me. If you’re a pixel artist or a game developer that uses Game Maker Studio, I would love to work with you!

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NanoTone Synth, Celody Life

NanoTone Synth

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Download it here!

This has been my big project for the summer – my first music making tool for HTML5 and Android. This software allows you to play music in any temperament up to 240-TET. You can use this to tune a guitar in 24-TET to play quarter tones, for example. You can compare any temperament to 12-TET, to see which has more accurate perfect fifths, major thirds, etc. You can also use this to compare the accuracy of 7 and 11-limit harmonies.

I want to add more features but since microtonality is such a niche in the music realm, it’ll depend on what feedback I get. I’m really just glad to see that it works on a touchscreen. I’m sure the next tool I make will be more universally applicable for musicians. It may involve guitar.

 

Celody Life

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Download it here!

I spliced together the keyboard code from Seraphim Automata and the code for the Game of Life. The result was this tool that lets you generate music with cellular automata. I was disappointed that the program doesn’t run in HTML5, but I’m glad the idea works. I don’t have anything else to add to it, but I do plan to use the Game of Life again in the future. 🙂

 

The Death of Serious Journalism

John Oliver’s video on the changing landscape of journalism really resonated with me. This is been a really depressing year for serious news, starting with the end of Al Jazeera America back in April. They were the only major news outlet that would open with the civil war in Syria, every day. They covered human trafficking, global hunger, climate change, so many important topics that aren’t discussed enough.

The fact that seems shocking just shows how little “news” we really expect from news organizations these days. I tried to replace Al Jazeera with CNN and MSNBC, but that just doesn’t work. This entire election year has turned into Maleficent vs. Voldemort.

I really hope Larry Wilmore and his crew move on to better places now that the Nightly Show is being cancelled. Mike Yard, Ricky Velez, Holly Walker, Rory Albanese, Robin Thede, Grace Parra, Jordan Carlos, Francesca Ramsey – all great comedians. The Nightly Show have gone out of their way to cover #BlackLivesMatter, Flint Michigan, and so many other issues being ignored by major news outlets (including The Daily Show). And Comedy Central are replacing their most serious news show with @midnight, which is a total insult.

Between this and claiming Stephen Colbert’s alter ego as their intellectual property, I’m pretty much done with Comedy Central. I’ve watched The Daily Show since the early 2000s, but now it’s a shell of its former self.

The Paley Center For Media Presents: "Keepin' It 100: An Evening With The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore"

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 14:Rory Albanese, Ricky Velez, Holly Walker, Larry Wilmore, Robin Thede, Jordan Carlos, Grace Parra and Neil deGrasse Tyson attend The Paley Center for Media Presents: “Keepin’ It 100: an evening with The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore” at Paley Center For Media on November 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

On a brighter note, I’ve been enjoying watching the Rio Olympics. Men and women’s basketball have been really fun to watch. On the men’s side, Serbia vs France was pretty interesting. Serbia had a big lead for most of the game, and the French didn’t seem to care. Then they came back with a one-point lead with 33 seconds on the clock. It was just so very… French. I felt bad for Serbia.

Women’s basketball is more exciting. The most exciting match I’ve seen so far was Turkey vs. Brazil, which went into double overtime before Turkey finally won. Isil Alben and Lara Sanders were both great to watch.

They met their match in the quarterfinals with Spain though. With Spain ahead 62-60 and 20 seconds on the clock, most teams would go for a foul. But Lara Sanders managed to steal the ball and scored for Turkey, tying the game at 62-62 with 4.3 seconds left on the clock. Then Anna Cruz got the ball, took a long shot with less than a second on the clock, and scored for Spain. Spain won 64-62. It was an insane victory for Spain, and a blistering performance from both teams.

Even though Japan lost to Australia in the fourth quarter after a 16-point lead, they definitely left the strongest impression on me in terms of being a fast and well-coordinated team. The USA vs Japan match was really entertaining to watch. So was Serbia vs Australia.

I can’t wait to see France vs United States, and Spain vs Serbia on Thursday! And the finals!

 

The Great Time Limit

Since the rise of smaller mobile games and the recent market saturation of popular genres, I’ve slowly lost the desire to make a large scale, story-driven, character-driven game, like the ones I grew up on (Sonic, Kingdom Hearts, Silent Hill, Zelda, etc). It makes more sense now to make smaller procedurally generated games with higher replayability.

Story-driven games are difficult for indie developers to translate into other languages, unless you have a strong fan base already built. Typical subject matter also varies greatly across the world. As more of the world becomes modernized, I fear we will share less common ground because of geographic and cultural differences. This is why I feel the best stories for games are archetypal myths – ones that can potentially be told through symbology instead of words.

This one guy wrote a great article about Sonic 3 & Knuckles and the Monomyth concept from John Campbell’s The Hero of a Thousand Faces (a spectacular book). Sonic 3 & Knuckles is one of the best examples of a game that tells a complete story without any dialogue.

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Here is a more in-depth breakdown of the game.

There’s also another issue that ties with market saturation, and that is the “great time limit” of our mortality. This occurred to me while binging on movies last year, that I could never see all the movies in the world, even if I devoted my whole life to it. So I’m selective about which genre, era, actors, etc that I watch. I can run into a fellow movie lover who’s never seen any of the films I have, and vice versa. It’s the same with gamers.

I think one thing that GamerGate exposed by questioning the identity of “gamers”, is that we really have very little in common. We may all be playing different games for entirely different reasons.

One person wants to explore, another wants to collect, another wants to build, another wants to micromanage. Another wants to role-play a specific fantasy, another like branching storylines, another wants to race, another wants to fight. Some prefer casual games, while others only respect “hardcore” gaming. Single vs multiplayer. Console vs PC. Controller vs keyboard and mouse. Do we even belong under the same umbrella term as “gamer”? Hardly. At that point we need to start breaking off into groups.

So as a game developer, how can you make everyone happy? You can’t. Not with a single video game. Your best that is to spend time with people who have people with common tastes as you. Try to figure out what you both like and why. Then focus on that.

 

Sonic Mania

The new Sonic game is being developed by game programmers from the fan community. It looks really promising, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. 🙂


Songwriting and Seraphim Notes

Inspirations

I decided to write a short biography about my life, titled “Inspirations”, mainly focused on the different kinds of art that influenced me growing up. You can find it under “About Me” on the menu at the top. I often find it difficult to talk about my personal life, so I’m happy with the way it turned out. It has some nice family pictures too. 🙂

I’ve also decided to share my poetry by posting it here, currently under my “Writing” section. I’ve split them into three collections – my early writings evolved from poems into songs between 2007 and 2011. By late 2011, most of my writing came in the form of verse-chorus songs. My life got a bit off track when I lost my home in March 2012, which is why I refer to pieces from this time as Lamentations. I still intend to record most of these, but I’m not sure what form or genre they will take.

Finally, there are the new songs. My spark didn’t really reignite until I wrote “The Fruit of Human Heads” in early 2015, and especially after I won the songwriting contest with “Angels Have Further to Fall” later that October. Adam Schweitzer’s version of the song is very good, especially given he’s only using one guitar and his voice. I fear any version I record may sound inferior. Which is an odd position to be put in.

 

Seraphim Automata (Dev Blog)

I spent about 5 weeks making Seraphim Automata, which is the shortest development time of any game I’ve made so far. I was able to speed up the process by recycling code for certain features from previous games. I began working on the game on May 16th, and posted the first screenshot on May 23rd after adding color.

seraphim1I still plan to use that fretboard for something…

The biggest challenge at this time was getting the cells to play the corresponding notes on the keyboard. Then I added a player object with health, attacks and death. I added a pause menu, an intro screen and the retry message. Now it played more like a game than a music program.

I took a break before picking it back up on June 2nd, adding power-ups and the rhythm generator. I polished the graphics up and added more samples the next day, then took another break.

On June 10th I added different time signatures. On June 14th I added level progression, a proper menu and options screen. On June 17th I began adding music genres. The next day I added the start menu, where you can select key, scale, music genre, and difficulty.

At this point the game was playable, and just needed a bit more polish. On June 21st I borrowed the timer, brightness and resolution code from Cosmic Zephyr, as well as the save/load system. These weren’t particularly large chunks of code, but they saved me a tremendous amount of time nonetheless. I added an ending message for winning the final level, and fixed any bugs I could find.

The game had 60 levels, ending on a 6/4 beat. The next day I decided to add more 20 levels to raise the difficulty and variety. That was the final change I made before releasing version 1.0 on June 22nd.

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I was originally thinking of selling the game for a few dollars, but the closer I got to the finished product (and the highly-anticipated Steam summer sale) the less feasible it seemed. It’s hard to know when your game has enough polish and content for others to consider it worth buying.

I can definitely see adding more music genres and more rhythms for variety. Maybe if I also added better graphics, more fluid gameplay, and maybe a story, I could justify selling a sequel to this game.

 

Marketing Indie Games

This could easily become a tangent on how rare people pay for video games outside of sales. If you manage to get a game through Steam Greenlight, it can end up on over a thousand wishlists while only getting a few purchases. That’s undeniably discouraging. But on the other hand, this year’s Steam summer sale went a lot better than the last one, with no daily deals and a discount average of 50% rather than 66.67%.

A lot of games these days are trying to build their communities as the games are being finished, which makes sense but also can set you up for a lot of backlash. Especially if your game gets money from Kickstarter but fails to deliver on its promises, like Mighty No 9. I get annoyed when game companies leave out features after they’ve become hyped. No female Link in the next Legend of Zelda is a timely example.

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I do like what they’ve done with Link’s hair though.

Speaking of which, the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild does look great. Do I want to buy a Wii U or an NX in order to play it though? Not really. I’m still having fun with Wind Waker on the GameCube.

This is a great article I read recently. The author list eight bottlenecks that limit the amount of people your game can ultimately reach.

I think the main takeaways are:

  • Know your game’s genre(s), your audience and how to appeal to them.
  • Know which platforms it runs on best and take advantage of it.
  • If you’re selling your game, decide early which market to target and how you’ll advertise.

I was going to post some more Steam reviews, but since they’re not ready I guess they can wait for the next blog.


Cosmic Zephyr 1.5.3 Update! Free Forever!

Updates

Download v1.5.3 here: http://dylanfranks.itch.io/cosmic-zephyr

The game is free now. There were a couple of factors to this decision:

1 the game doesn’t run well on mobile, which is its most suitable platform.
2 now that the game is in multiple languages, it can reach a wider audience.

The main goal for this update was to make the game playable to more people. I highly recommend this resource if you’re trying to make your games more accessible to disabled people. There are a lot of tips on this site, for example. Also, there is a wealth of localization tips on this website.

This new update includes:

  • 7 new languages
  • Brightness and gamma correction
  • More window resolutions for larger monitors
  • Changes to the GUI to fit the above

 

Translation Woes

This version includes French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese and Russian translations. The game was translated with the Polyglot Project, and a few other resources. I also had one friend help proofread the French and German translations, and another who helped with Spanish.

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If you ever make a racing game, the German word for “speed” may really trip you up. It’s “Geschwindigkeit”. I had to widen the whole GUI because of it.

In the menu, I opted to use the word Attacke for “Shoot” instead of Shießen, since my game’s font doesn’t support the German letter ß. Replacing the ß or eszett with ss is not officially allowed by Germany, though most other German-speaking countries use it (such as in Switzerland). If this were a more text-heavy game, I would obviously just change the font.

Russian was definitely the hardest language to add, given it uses another alphabet. Russian words can also be slightly longer than German or Italian, so the game uses a smaller font. The Unicode for the Cyrillic alphabet is 1024 to 1279, if you ever need to know.

In retrospect, I’m never making another menu that scrolls horizontally again.

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It’s good to use a popular font as backup in case the more stylish ones don’t support foreign letters. I’m using Tahoma for Russian because it’s easy to read and similar to the fonts it replaces (Jet Set, FREEDOM).

Most of the Japanese, Chinese and Korean translations are actually already in the code. I just want to make sure they’re all correct before I officially release them. They also need their own fonts. With the way Game Maker Studio handles Unicode, the fonts may be hell to add, particularly Chinese with its +10,000 characters.

It’s ironic because this all kind of started when I found my game being pirated on several Chinese websites.

If you’re familiar with any of the languages I have added, I encourage you to go through and look for mistakes I can fix. This is a bit much for one person, I’ll admit. 55 words/phrases x 8 languages = 440 words/phrases.

 

Summary

There are a lot of issues that can come up when you think about translating for video games. It’s worth keeping in mind if you ever want to pursue making a story-driven game. English and Japanese versions of the same game can be very different because of the vast cultural differences regarding sex, violence and humor. In general, America is weirdly comfortable with violence and guns, while Japan is weirdly comfortable with sex. So that’s usually what gets changed or removed during translation.

When I play certain games like Paper Mario or Animal Crossing, I can’t help but think how different the experience might be in the original language.

Charlie Chaplin’s famous quote was “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long shot.” I would argue the reverse can also be true. Comedy, humor, what people consider funny can all change with geography and time. Jokes get old. Tragedy on the other hand can be a universal experience. Experiences of loss, betrayal and injustice all transcend individual cultures.

Tragedy never gets old for me, because when it’s good it’s like the first time all over again.

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