Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mana Clash Release!

The download for Mana Clash can be found here.

This is it! My first public release of a game I programmed from scratch! At this point in time I feel that Mana Clash is complete. There were a few other features I wanted to add, but they were all auxiliary and unnecessary. If there is demand for me to revisit this game and add some more features, I may. But for now I'm going to move onto working on my next game full force. (After a brief celebratory respite that is.)

Now, that being said, I tested this game very thoroughly for as many bugs as I could find and fixed them. I played through the final build four times from start to finish after trying to break areas of weak coding, and I had no issues in my play-throughs. Of course, that doesn't mean that there aren't some obscure bugs lurking somewhere in the program. If you find any, let me know! I probably won't fix any non-essential bugs right away, but they will be top priority if I release another version in the future.

So, what's different with release from Beta? I essentially "turned on" the game.

- Added additional fixes for controller support. I am 99% certain that I nailed any loose ends that could cause the program to crash.
- Fixed a few bugs which could glitch the game making progression impossible under certain, rare situations.
- Added level progression up to level 20. If you beat level 20, you will be given the option to re-play level 20 as many times as you like. Sad to say, there is no ending, so if you are that awesome at the game go ahead and see how many times you can beat round 20 before you lose.
- Modified the initial placement of blocks slightly. Now you should have no more than 2 of the same type of block next to each other.

In the future I will be giving Mana Clash it's own dedicated page linked from this blog, and I will need to look into a different online storage provider that can host Mana Clash beyond the 30 day limit that Rapid Share has. Suggestions would be very much appreciated!

I hope you enjoy the game I made! It was certainly a learning experience programming my first game from scratch. My next game is going to be another take on an arcade classic. I wish I could tell you more, but it's only in it's early stages, and I'm still in the process of looking for someone to do sound for it. Rest assured, however, that I will post news as soon as it's available here on the blog. Until next time, enjoy, and feel free to tell me what you think!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mana Clash Beta 2

The download for the new version can be found here.

Yes, I have been very busy working on finishing the game this week. This is it, Beta 2! This is the final release before the full version. After all the work I put into this game over the past week, I'm going to take a short break before I get down to business and blitz through what's left to complete the game. You can expect the full release 2 weeks from now at the latest, though schedule permitting and no problems withstanding, it might be available within a week's time.

Now, as this is the Beta v2 I would appreciate any and all feedback as I work to complete the game. I will be submitting this to to feature and allow others to download and the last thing I want to happen is discover some game breaking bug after it's submitted. Of particular interest is a bug regarding controllers that my friend Neil pointed out to me after Beta 1 release. I put a work around in Beta 2 for those that do not have controllers, but I cannot duplicate the error on my machine, so I have no way of knowing if it is fixed for this release or not.

The Changelog this time around is rather small, but here it is:

- Fixed a bug that could cause the game to crash if the first mana pair in a game was rotated at specific intervals during gameplay.
- Tweaked Controller settings to allow the game to run if the user does not have a controller plugged into their PC. (I hope. I need more feedback on this!)
- Added basic game information that shows the level, speed, and number of blocks remaining.
- Added animated sprites to represent the different elements outside the game board.

There's still a lot that needs to be done in order to complete this game. At this point I'm not sure what I will keep and what I will cut to get a workable game done and out of the way. Most of my decisions in this regard are going to be made on the fly as I work on finishing the game. If there is a feature you really want to see, let me know! Otherwise, as I said in my last post, even post-release I may work on the game here and there to include some of the features I wanted in my original draft. Until next time, enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mana Clash Beta 1

The download for the new version can be found here.

So, I know I promised you the next version of Mana Clash in two weeks. Well, I lied. I decided to get down to business and hammer out the game so I have it done well ahead of schedule. In fact, as soon as I'm done posting this, I'm going to immediately start working on Beta 2 (though I do not anticipate it to be done before next week.) This would put Beta 2's release sometime next week, and the full version of the game available around the middle of August.

Unfortunately, I have decided that I am going to have to cut some of the content I originally planned for this game. I had originally wanted to include multi-play, but I feel that adding that element will take valuable time away from my other projects. As I stated before, the purpose of these games are to practice my ability as a programmer, and this game just isn't challenging me in the way it used to. That's not to say I won't revisit this game later on down the line and add in multiplayer mode, but it's not a priority for me at the moment. I should have a better idea of what is and is not going to be available at launch once I finish Beta 2 and see where I am.

Now, onto the meat of the topic. The change log!

- Added new graphics to differentiate between the elements eliminated.
- Added subtle animations to all of the Mana Blocks.
- You will now be able to preview your next Mana Pair in the upper Right hand corner of the screen.
- Added an animated Mage character in the upper right hand corner to represent the player.
- Put a placeholder stat board in the lower right of the screen. In this build it serves no purpose, but will be used to give the player basic game information in future releases.

As explained previously, the changes for Beta 1 and Beta 2 are mostly cosmetic changes aimed at making the UI a little more friendly. Also, I must apologize for my awful art. I am not an artist! My amateur attempts at game art are undoubtedly shining through with this release, but we're here to play the game, not critique the art. Right? ... right?

With Beta 2 I plan on finishing the game screen. Release will contain the scoring and level progression that will bring this beyond being just a demo. Ideally, I would love to add sound, but as bad as I am at graphics, I'm much worse at music. We'll see about that when I get there. Until next time, enjoy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mana Clash Alpha v2

The download for the new version can be found here.

I know it's been a while with no updates since the last version, mostly because I was wrapping up my summer semester. Thankfully it's over now and that means I can get back to working on my projects! Today I have the second Alpha for Mana Clash available, and I plan on having Beta available in two weeks, assuming I can stick to my development schedule. If nothing goes horribly wrong, I expect to have this game launched by the end of the summer before I go back to trudging through another semester of college.

I would also like to note that Alpha v1 is no longer available on Rapidshare, so don't try to download it. As a free member, they delete all of the files on their servers after 30 days. Seeing as how I don't make money off of these games, and keeping an outdated possibly bug ridden version available for download isn't exactly necessary... I decided that I won't attempt to re-upload it. To be safe, I do have a copy of the .rar saved on my computer, so if there is ever a reason for me to re-upload it, I can. I will also start looking into a different file sharing site for launch, so that I don't have to constantly re-upload Mana Clash every month. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know!

Now, as for the change log for Alpha v2, I made the following minor improvements to the game:

- Added the ability to immediately play again after successfully clearing all of the blocks.
- Added controller support. (See below for more information)
- Added graphics to indicate when mana and blocks are cleared.
- Fixed two separate bugs that could cause the game to crash under rare circumstances.

Controller support right now is very rudimentary and I probably won't be revisiting it unless there is a major problem. It was designed utilizing a traditional NES controller to recapture the retro feel, and there is no way to re-map the buttons in game, so you will have to use your own button remapping software if you are using a different controller.

D-Pad: Controls movement.
Buttons 0 & 1: Rotates the Mana.
Button 3: Pauses the game.

Currently, the idea for Beta 1 & 2 will mostly be cosmetic changes as opposed to game play changes. If I have some time during the development cycle to add more, I will, but expect the bulk of the content to come at release. During this time I'm also going to be working on prepping my next game which will be a collaborative effort, as well as tuning my other unannounced project. More on both of those in the future when I have more to tell you aside from hopes and dreams. In the meantime, enjoy! As usual, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know what you think.