Thursday, July 25, 2013

8-Bit Dimension Release!

The download for 8-Bit Dimension can be found here.






8-Bit Dimension is finally complete! This game took a lot longer than I originally expected it would take, especially with all the progress I made with the initial stages of building the game. Really, looking back at things, I can really only chalk it up to the increased demand on my schedule from school. When I made ManaClash, much of my progress was made when I only had to concern myself with work during the week. Making sure I had time for 8-Bit Dimension was probably the most challenging part of this project.

That's not to say it was the only challenge. With this project, I wanted to work on collision detection, and lightweight game physics, as well as the ability to load files for my levels. In addition tot he mechanics, I wanted to implement sound in this game as ManaClash was left relatively silent. I had a lot of trouble finding someone to do the sound for the game, and even once I thought I had, that individual was unable to commit the time to do it. In the end, I wound up doing all the sound myself, though not without help. The sound effects were all made with this handy online tool: http://www.superflashbros.net/as3sfxr/ and all of the music I made myself with the program FamiTracker. If you thought my art was bad, wait till you hear my sound design!

There were a few other features I wound up cutting just to move on from this project. For example, I wanted to do a little more as far as aesthetics goes by animating the various enemies, and having different backgrounds and enemies for different stages. In addition, I wanted there to be a "Final Boss" to this game, but all of these things would have taken far more time than I have available, especially since I'm in the middle of working on a commercial project with two others that has much more of my attention at the moment. Is that to say I won't return to 8-Bit Dimension? Of course not. Maybe one day in the future, much like ManaClash, I'll tinker around with the game, clean it up, and add some more features. For now, this is what I'm presenting to you.

As for what's changed between Beta and release? Here's the rundown!
- Added roaming enemies. These enemies can get in the way and cause unpredictable results when your spell collides with them, but you will be awarded points for the trouble.
- Added Sound to the game. Now you have sound effects for nearly everything imaginable, in addition to two nifty songs. "Level Start" and "Game Over"!
- Added three new levels, all of which are much more difficult than the original two. It wouldn't be a retro game if the difficulty weren't cranked up to 11, now would it?
- Fixed a bug that prevented the window from being closed after getting game over. This bug is apparently also present in ManaClash, and will be included in the list of fixes with it's first update.

That's game number two under my belt, and game number three is on it's way. I can't wait to show you more of the game we have planned, but myself and the rest of the team at Advent Games wants to get it to a slightly more playable state before showing it off. Of course, I'm not the type of person to rest for long. I'm giving myself the weekend off to enjoy myself and relax for the first time in months, then I'm going to hit the grindstone once more. What will my next solo project be? Honestly, I'm not sure, but I will say this: I bought RPG Maker VXAce when it was on sale a few weeks ago and I've been dying to dive in and make something. I used to love RPG Maker for the Playstation, and made quite a few games I made my friends suffer through. RPG Maker VXAce seems to fix all of the issues I had with the original for Playstation, and I have a few RPG ideas I would love to prototype in RPG Maker. For example, I think I would like to remake The Ring of Fire in RPG Maker format. We'll see though.

Whether it's an RPG in RPG maker, or if I decide to tackle another game in Python, I'm unlikely to stop in my pursuit to improve my skills. With university right around the corner as well, I have a feeling that as difficult, stressful, and busy as the next few years are going to be... I'm going to see my skills as a programmer and a Game Designer improve manifold. I hope you enjoy the game, and let me know what you think! Until next time, enjoy the rest of your summer!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Now Entering: Hell Month

July!

Summer is in full swing. It's been raining here in New Jersey literally every single day for a month now because God hates New Jersey. I suspect Noah will be here with his arc to pick me up soon, so before I go, it's time I let all of you in on what to expect.

First off, 8-Bit dimension is 99% complete. I'm putting a few finishing touches on it to give it a little more polish before releasing it. Granted, I probably won't be able to give it a full-makeover and there will be parts of it that are left... unrefined for lack of a better word, it is fully functional and playable. Expect the release before the end of July. Like ManaClash, I may revisit it one day to add a little more flair and pretty it up, but that will have to wait.

The reason being is my studio, Advent Games, is in full swing production mode working on our first Android Game. We're still in the early stages, but perhaps with a little luck, I'll have something available to show before the end of the month with a more formal announcement on our main site - which is currently under construction and should most definitely be done before the end of the month. I'll be sure to post a link here once it's done.

But what would my July experience be if I weren't crazy enough to work on THREE games in one month!? Yes, starting this weekend I'll be down at seaside every weekend this month! While everyone else is enjoying the rain (because at this point I've given up on the idea of ever seeing the sun again) I'll be closeted away to code up a small demonstration game for an engine I have the privilege of working on. This will be an RPG and it'll be made free to the public with it's entire source code. Am I crazy? Perhaps. But I do what I do for the love of games!

With Physics behind me, Calc2 half-way done, and University starting in the fall, this is the perfect window for me to be productive and belt out some games. Of course, this does mean I won't be able to play all of the video games coming out this summer, but what else is new? I haven't played video games in over a year! Enjoy your summer folks, and expect more news soon! This month is going to be wild, crazy, and intense... and I might just make it out alive if I'm lucky.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

8-Bit Dimension Beta 2

The download for the new version can be found here.

Summer is here. I'm taking two classes, and working on two games, so although progress may be slow, it's coming! Today, contrary to what I thought would be an evening of sleeping after a very, very long 12 hour day I cranked out the last little bit of code to put 8-Bit Dimension into Beta 2.

There aren't many new features that will be added to the game outside of polish at this point, so test to your hearts content! All of the items have been fully implemented, tested, and debugged. In addition, I put in the beginnings of code to allow roaming enemies, but have kept the feature out of sight for this release as it doesn't add anything to the game in it's current state.

Here is the change log to  Beta 2:

- Added three new items to affect game play.
- The orange item will grant you power over the mighty forces of magic to blast away any obstacles in your path. By pressing the Right Control button, you will discharge a magical attack that will destroy any blocks it comes in contact with. Do note, that if you are also under the effects of the sticky item, firing the magic shot will immediately launch any spells you are holding.
- The black item will open up a portal to the next stage. By attempting to leave the stage through the now opened door on the right side of the stage, you will be warped to the next level, losing any power ups you currently have. Note that this item may be hard to see against the black background. Keep your eyes peeled!
- The purple item will grant the player one extra life. Please note that the player cannot have more than 6 lives at any point in time.
- Fixed a number of bugs regarding the yellow item.
- Minor game play adjustments.

Next up, final release! When's it due? I don't know, but I can safely say before summer ends.With the release, I hope to have the roaming enemy system completed, as well as perhaps the addition of sound and some more levels to extend game play. There's so much more I could add to this game to help polish and clean it up, but at this point my major concern is to release the game and focus my efforts on completing "Project Zombie" for a September release. As usual, please report any bugs you find with the game. I've tested it extensively to make sure I have a clean launch, but these things are rarely apparent. Have fun, and let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Advent Games

It's June. School's already started back up and I decided to be crazy enough to cram Physics and Calc II into a summer I'm already booked to develop three games.

Yes, three games. Let's start from the beginning.

As you know, I'm knee deep in development on 8-Bit Dimension. I'm happy to say that I'm almost done with Beta phase 2. In my current build I've got all the items implemented. Cleaned up a few things and the code, and I'm in the process of putting in the beginnings of roaming enemies. I'm hoping to post that up sometime before the end of the month, but the work I put into that is solely reliant on my other two, more important projects.

My second project is the previously announced "Project Zombie". While I don't have any more information to share about it at this time, I will say that progress is being made and it's currently still on schedule for a fall release. I will, however, take this time to talk to you about Advent Games. Advent Games is the name of a brand new Video Game studio that I am heading. With a focus on honesty, integrity, and quality, the three of us who formed Advent Games want to make a company that's founded on the things that we as gamers and human beings value most. Evil DLC? Money Grubbing tactics such as Whaling? Incomplete, bug ridden messes of games? We, as a company will be doing everything possible to stay away from the things we feel weakens the gaming industry as a whole. By sticking to our adamant desire to remain indie, we won't be getting involved in the producer side of the industry that we feel often forgets the true purpose of a "game" - to have fun! Furthermore, without the intervention of producers, we can focus on artistic expression and experiment with new ideas that may not have come to pass in an industry clouded with corporate protocol. We're currently fixing up a website, and preparing a separate blog for our new studio which I will be sure to link here once it's complete.

The third and final project which I would like to mention is that Advent Games will be partnering up with fellow indie studio Hybrid Games to make a small RPG on a new, house built engine during the month of July. This RPG will be a free release that anyone will be able to download and play, as well as being open source so that if anyone in the community wants to tinker with our creation, they'll be free to do so. The engine will also be open source and posted online separately for anyone wishing to create their own RPGs, but I will have more information on that as it becomes available. If you'd like to be a part of this project, feel free to e-mail me at admin@advent-games.com. Please note that we only have a very limited number of positions, and you will need to have transportation to the Jersey Shore where we will be doing this work during the month of July. Currently, we're not looking for anyone to work remotely.

So, three projects, two classes, and a hard deadline of September? I think I can do it. I'll be sure to post updates as soon as they become available. My hope is that soon I'll be able to introduce all of you to "Project Zombie" with some of our assets, and perhaps a screenshot or two. Until next time, have a great summer, and stay cool!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Homestretch

Less than two weeks remain in this school semester, and I can't wait to be free.

Project wise, I've been knee deep in two: A game I've been making in Game Design, and a Guitar Simulation I've been coding with three other gentleman for Data Structures. I don't have much to show for either of them right now, but I might post some stuff up in the next few months when I'm not churning out breaking news left and right.

Speaking of which, I'm set to reveal some big news next month. Oh, how I wish I could spoil it early, but we are currently working out the last few details of a months long endeavor. In addition, full production on "Project Zombie" will begin with the end of the semester. I eagerly await the opportunity to give more info on that as well, but all in due time... all in due time...

That's all for now though. Sorry for the slow news months, but I promise, Summer will be worth it. Until then, I wish you all the best!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

There's Something Brewing Just Beyond the Horizon

It's April, and as the semester winds down, the work is getting more and more intense. I've found myself leaving the house in the wee hours of the morning, only to return some where around 3 AM, and continue the cycle day after day. I suppose this would make good practice for the inevitable crunch time situation I'm bound to face in the future.

Speaking of which... There is a lot going on as my team and I move into the final stages of preparing to launch our studio. Big things! I've been aching to talk about some of these things for months, but it'll have to remain a secret, if only for another month or two. One of those things will be an opportunity for those talented individuals in the NJ area looking to expand their portfolio or get hands on experience with a chance at making an actual game with us! We're still hashing out the details, but expect to hear something a little more concrete in June.

When it comes to games currently in production, there isn't much to report. 8-Bit Dimension has gone back into stasis until mid-May when the semester is over and I can dedicate time in wrapping it up. Work does continue on our Android game, which has yet to be named, but full production on that won't start until mid-May as well. As the development team and I are terrible at coming up with project names, I'm just going to call it "Zombie" for now until we come up with a better one. No, it has nothing to do with zombies. I just feel like naming all of my games after RPG enemies. Let it be known! Henceforth, Mana Clash shall retroactively be assigned the project name "Skeleton" and 8-Bit Dimension shall similarly be known by the project name "Wolf".

That's all for this month. News may be slow going, but soon I hope to knock your socks off with back to back news announcements of great import! Until next time, I hope you're enjoying what ever game currently has your attention!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

8-Bit Dimension Beta 1

The download for the new version can be found here.

In a completely unexpected turn of events, I somehow found the time to wrap up Beta 1 this week. Oh, the wonders of having free time that can be spent on stuff other than homework! Unfortunately, there are a few very minor bugs that I plan on fixing for Beta 2. All of the known bugs involve the "Sticky" item, and while I got all of the major bugs fixed (One of which would crash the game.) a few small minor bugs remain that don't impact game play too heavily. The known bugs will be detailed at the end of the post.

For those of you who play the game, the focus of this version is the inclusion of four different functioning items. Please let me know what you think of them, and their balance on game play which may be tweaked before release.

Here is the change log to  Beta 1. It's surprisingly small for an upgrade from Alpha to Beta:

- Added four new items to affect game play.
- The green item will split a single spell into three separate spells. Please note that this effect does not stack with itself, and if you have more than one spell active, you will only earn points for obtaining more of this item.
- The red item will increase the size of your shield by 50%. Changing levels or losing a life will reset this effect. Please note that the effects of this item are not cumulative. Obtaining more red items after your shield's size has been increased will have no effect and only grant points.
- The blue item will slow down the speed of all balls on screen by a fair amount. In order to keep the pace of the game moving, there is a minimum speed in place, thus, obtaining enough blue items will eventually have no effect if this minimum speed is reached.
- The yellow item will make your shield "sticky" and thus, catch any spells that make contact with it. Simply press the launch button again to fire your spells. This effect will fade upon changing levels or losing a life.

Known Bugs:

- Currently, while holding a spell under the effects of the "Sticky" item, if you move your paddle up against a wall, you may notice a small shift in the spells resting on the shield.
- The angle calculations when firing a spell while under the effects of the "Sticky" item are slightly off and may on rare occasion yield unexpected results.
- Speed is reset to it's starting value when ever a spell is fired while under the effects of the "Sticky" item.

Beta 2 will hit sometime over the summer as I know that nothing short of a miracle would allow me to finish it before the end of spring break. Especially when you factor in time to receive feedback and possibly fix any new issues that may be discovered. With Beta 2 I plan on fixing the bugs with the sticky item, and introducing three more, much rarer items. If time and testing permits, I will hopefully also have enemies added to the game, in at least some basic form. Please let me know what you think of the game! Any and all criticisms and comments are welcome as I move this game into its final phases.