Unite Nordic 2013

Last week the Stimuli team (i.e. Helen and I) headed out to Unite Nordic in Malmo, Sweden. We had a great time, and were very inspired to work on our first Unity3D game.

I think the main highlight of the conference for me (besides Helen winning a copy of Unity3D Pro!), was listening to the talk by the Rovio Bad Piggies Head of Studio, Jaakko Haapasalo. We spoke to him and the Lead Programmer after the talk, and they were both extremely nice guys.

BeeKeeper is GO!

Some proud Beekeeper related clicking is going on all over the globe right now.

Beekeeper was approved for the Appstore last night (London time). So this morning we have been furiously setting up twitter accounts for it, Facebook pages, cross referencing them, putting links to them on our webpage, and linking back. Blimey there’s a lot to do.

It’s like some kind of spiderweb-Borg-hivemind madness!

Our friends are congratulating and downloading and ‘liking’ and generally sharing our excitement. It’s too early to see if anyone other than our mates has bought it yet.

I just hope that when the pollen settles people enjoy playing it.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beekeeper/id511872637

DEADLINE!!

I knew there’d be fights today. It’s the ultimate deadline for finishing our game, Beekeeper. What’s important? What needs to be left till the next release? So many questions and loose ends.


We had a big fight about the tutorial. Brett kicked a chair. I locked myself in the bathroom. He felt the tutorial was done. I felt it didn’t explain vital elements.
He’d shown it to a couple of his mates last night at the pub and they hadn’t needed much explanation. But his mates have doctorates in computer science.

Anyway we are back on track. Brett is fixing up the tutorial now. I’ve made him tea and we are kissing and smiling again.

The more I look the more I see. How do you end the tutorial? Should it seamlessly go into the game? Or back to the main menu? There are so many variables and ways to do things. And everything takes time.

The compromises are flying thick and fast.

But this is only the first release. I was heartened to read that Diablo 3 had loads of server problems on its release this week. You’d think Blizzard, of all people, would know how to run a MMORPG.

So now it’s Friday night. We are pretty much there. Brett cooked spaghetti bolognese for dinner and he’s lying on the bed now playing Diablo 3.

The tutorial for Beekeeper is working pretty well. Lots of little bugs got ironed out and screens got updated and final decisions got made. I attacked the balancing from the back end. I made a really hard final level and basically worked back from there. Balancing is far and away the hardest part of the whole game development process.
Tomorrow we will play it a bit more and muck about with the parameters a bit. But we have made it. And we are so proud!

Music….ahhh!

God it’s May already! And Beekeeper is still not finished. Brett is still implementing a new type of defence unit we came up with last week. We now have bees that flap their wings and blow enemy units back. He’s pretty much got that done and it’s looking really good.

I’m trying to do some really basic music, but it is hard to decide what is OK and what is just utter shite. I’m using Garage Band on my iPad and while it is incredible for what it is, it’s still pretty rinky dink and crashes a lot.

But so many games have very basic music. We are never going to have something really good without paying someone to spend ages on it. Hopefully the player will just turn it off and listen to their own music. We have quite a lot of in game sounds anyway. I think music should be a low priority. Even though I’m aware that it is an important element of creating an addictive experience.

Working for yourself.

If you are working for someone else on a project that seems doomed you will at least give it your all because someone is paying you to do it. But it’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm on a self funded project when you have no idea if it will pay anything at all. You can tell yourself over and over again that it is all a learning experience, but when it comes to throwing yourself upon a small part of the project a little voice in your head says, ‘don’t waste too much time on it as this whole thing may well sink like a stone’.

But with graphics you can always spend a bit more time. There is always more you can do, things you can tweak or redesign. Likewise with programming. You can always spend another week making the interface better. You can always spend more time on a cut scene.

We are not just learning to make games we are learning to project manage ourselves and our resources.

Hitting it hard.


Our aim this week was to really hit Beekeeper hard. And we did. Helen made win animations, new sounds, new upgrade animation, music for when the queen dies and new panels for the seasons. And some other stuff.
She also made talking bee sounds by humming through a comb. They sound pretty funny.
Brett has got the menu all hooked up, the waves of enemies, the seasons, the sounds, and the defenders working properly.
Our aim was to get it to a stage that if a gun was held to our heads we could release something. It’s no where near ready. It all takes a lot longer than one would think. It’s so important not to get bogged down with the details, but to keep focusing on the game.
But it is looking pretty fun and sexy. We are quite excited.

Getting serious.

We are getting super serious now. We have both stopped working for other people and are throwing ourselves full tilt into a proper game.

It’s going to be called Beekeeper. A tower defence game where you have to protect the queen by placing bees in a honeycomb landscape and enemies will attack from the left.

You will use pollen like gold in other resource management games.

Brett will do all the coding and Helen will do all the art direction and graphics.

Fun fun fun.

Sea Squirt is a real live game!

Well it took a lot longer than I anticipated, but I finally uploaded Sea Squirt to the App store yesterday.

In my defence I took some time out to earn some money doing some animation for a film. And instead of a simple little game I made 5 different levels with menus and high score stars and loads of complicated stuff for a noob coder like me.  Brett (guru) only gave me a mere smear of help. I learned so much and I’m so proud and excited that my first game is a reality.

Making the sound FX was fun. I got a straw and a glass of water and blew bubbles to make the sound of the enemy being hit and dissolving. I think it sounds great. Bbblooop!

You can buy SeaSquirt if you like! Oh go on…

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sea-squirt/id501157448?mt=8

Helen’s First Game

I reckon you could teach your self brain surgery via YouTube, it is such an amazing resource.

But pending that I’ve been through a bunch of ios programming tuts on YouTube and I’m amping to make my first iPhone game.
It will be super simple. I’ve always wanted to make a game that is essentially a little sea squirt squirting its enemies.