Sales Graphs for 2015
So somewhere I know I wrote up an entire analysis of 2015 for Fun Infused Games, as I have done for pretty much every year I've been doing this. Unfortunately I cannot find that document anywhere. I am not going to write a new one but I will post it if (when) I ever find it. As a poor substitute for that, here is a look at how our sales compared to previous years.
Sales Per Platform
Sales Per Year
Inaccurate Physics are the Best
In order to make a platforming game feel right to the player, you’ve got to take some liberties with physics. Here are a couple of the inaccuracies that I’ve implemented in the PC and upcoming Steam and PS4 releases of VolChaos that are inaccurate but improve the feel of the game.
Change direction in air
This is one it seems just about every platformer implements. Realistically after jumping, you shouldn’t have any control of where you go. For most games (VolChaos included) you can change directions or allow yourself to fall straight down instead of continuing your jump trajectory. This has been made even more unrealistic in the latest PC and upcoming Steam/PS4 releases by removing most of your momentum, so you can literally change directions on a dime (well, maybe a quarter). This just feels better and makes it easier to land yourself on small platforms, something you see a lot in VolChaos.
VolChaos doesn’t accurately portray the true speed of gravity, it has something more floaty (although less floaty than previous versions of the game). Also with real gravity, the longer you fall, the faster you will travel (excluding air resistance). In a platformer game though where you can sometimes fall from really, really high, if you don’t curb the max falling speed, you will be going so quickly that you can’t control or land your character well. I allowed you to speed up some but then put a ceiling on just how fast you can go.
Also of note, falling from high heights doesn’t kill you. Big jumps are inherently fun in video games so I allowed that.
Release jump to slow down
Sometimes you want to bunny hop or slow your jump mid-jump in order to avoid obstacles. In VolChaos if you release the jump button early on in a jump (there is a cutoff time where it no longer does this), it instantly starts you moving back down instead of up, allowing you to more accurately control the height of your jumps.
Gamers really really hate to feel like the game cheated them, like when you swear you hit the jump button but ran off the edge of a cliff to your death instead. In the latest versions of VolChaos (this isn’t the in the XBLIG or Ouya releases), there is a split second after you run off an edge where you can still jump. This is completely unrealistic but it eliminates those enraging moments of running to your death.
That’s most of what I’ve done extra to make VolChaos feel better to play (related to physics at least). Got other ideas, suggestions or comments? Leave them in the comments below.
Fun Update 3.6.2015 - VolChaos Edition
Lots going on in the World of VolChaos (PC, Steam, PS4)... in fact that is pretty much all I've been up to on the gaming front for the past month or so. Here is the latest breakdown...
VolChaos 1.5 PC released
The 1.5 version of VolChaos is now available on Desura and itch.io. This update includes updates to most levels, a full screen / windowed mode toggle (previously the game ran full screen only), and a few minor UI tweaks. It'll probably be the last PC update for a while (unless there are any breaking bugs) as I shift focus to the PS4/Steam ports.
Purple blocks, new in 1.5! My lord!
I wanted to name the VolChaos PS4/Steam port with some kind of subtitle to indicate it's a better than normal edition. For the moment I've been referring to it as “Red Hot Edition”. I don't know if that will stick (I kinda want something crazier) but that is what we have for now.
New levels at last
After months of working on the VolChaos PS4 (and Steam!) port, this week marked an important milestone, I actually worked on making a new level for the game! Given that I've been working on this port for several months that may seem strange, but there was a lot to do first. Porting the game, cleaning things up, massive updates to the existing levels, etc.
New levels will be great (or at least less bad)
Given the fact that I've already made 42 levels and tweaked them numerous times, I feel really good about the quality I'll be able to give the new 18 levels (oh yeah, I'm adding 18 new levels). Besides being more experienced at making VolChaos levels than when I started, many of the mechanics and enemies weren't available from day one either. Moving platforms for instance I added much later in development and aren't utilized to their fullest in the original 42 levels.
I've long since given up on trying to accurately place a release date until very close to the release date of the game. I would like to release both Steam and PS4 VolChaos concurrently but that will require getting through the approval process with both Steam and Sony at roughly the same time (I believe Sony will likely be the far more difficult of the two). I'd originally projected releasing on PS4 in February or March but with VolChaos being Greenlit (something I wasn't anticipating so soon), I ended up doing a lot to clean up the PC version that I did not expect to be doing. I'm hoping I can release in the next 2-3 months but being an indie developer without a publisher forcing a deadline on me means that I can take as long as I need to get it right. The major remaining piece is creating all the new levels, everything else is going to be minor tweaks and platform specific changes (of which I don't anticipate many besides Achievements/Trophies).
Less than two weeks ago, Hypership Out of Control was Greenlit on Steam and as of yesterday, VolChaos has been too. This is exciting news, it isn't very often not just one but two of your titles is Greenlit. VolChaos took a long time (I put it on Greenlight shortly after the Greenlight program started) but what counts is that it made it through.
VolChaos is currently on Desura.com and itcho.io but I'm thinking (as long as Sony doesn't object) that I should bring the same enhanced version of VolChaos to Steam that I am bringing to PS4. It would be really cool to do a dual launch on PS/PS4. I'm not really sure what the approval process for PS4 or Steam is (I've heard Sony is difficult) so that could potentially make a dual release difficult but it is something that I'd like to try for.
I'm going to prioritize VolChaos on Steam over Hypership. Even though Hypership was approved first, I've been working a lot on VolChaos these past months and it feels more ready for the PC Steam treatment. Also Hypership will need more work with online leaderboard functionality so I'd rather hold off on that for a bit, VolChaos subsequently would be an easier Steam port.
No deadlines on any of these, but I want to get them out as quickly as I can. Our next closest game on Steam Greenlight now is Abduction Action! but that is still a long, long ways off and without a current PC release, it isn't something we've been pushing people to vote up.
Fun Infused Games 2014 Wrap-up
2014 wasn't our best selling year and we didn't release much new, but it wasn't our worst year either. A lot of what we did in 2014 is setting the foundation for a much more successful 2015. This includes our first forays into PC development, a very far along PlayStation 4 port of VolChaos, Hypership Out of Control being Greenlit shortly into 2015 (but as of yet unreleased), and VolChaos being very close to being Greenlit now. We also (for the time being anyways) are waving goodbye to mobile development and micro-console development and focusing mainly on PC and console (PS4) releases going forward. Besides financial reasons, we simply like developing for these platforms better.
We generally write these each year, although some of the older ones were posted on our personal blog. Read them for a more in-depth history of Fun Infused Games if you dare.
Games Released in 2014
2012 Wrap-up (does not exist online currently and possibly not at all)
- Abduction Action Plus - XBLIG, January 6th
- Hypership Still Out of Control - iOS, January 20th
- Hypership Out of Control -PC, August 7th
- VolChaos - PC, September 26th
We released four games in 2014 although they were primarily ports of existing titles. Hypership Still Out of Control (HSSOoC) was the exception to that, although it was primarily just new levels using the existing Hypership Out of Control game. Based on how well the original Hypership on iOS sold, HSSOoC sales were pretty disappointing. The original game got featured by Apple and picked up a lot of early sales, the semi-sequel largely fell into the abyss that is the AppStore. Based on our experience with HSSOoC, the growing trend toward FTP releases, and the fact that our Apple dev hardware was basically made obsolete and unusable for development by Apple updates we cannot apply, we don't currently have any future iOS plans (see Hypership Out of Control 2 section later).
One small note on Abduction Action! Plus. We actually listed the XBLIG version as a release in the 2013 wrap-up too. It was approved prior to the new year but it did not go on sale until after, per our decision not to complete with Christmas and New Years. So it was done in 2013 but released in 2014, that's why you're seeing it twice.
Sales Per Platform
For this year we decided to break down what we sold per platform, as we now have four platforms we're actively selling games on.
Bundle sales are where it's at on the PC if you are not on Steam, making up approximately 95% of our PC sales. We hope 2015 will see better non-bundle sales as we learn the market more and hopefully experience our first Steam releases (VolChaos is #67 on GreenLight at the time of this writing and Hypership has been Greenlit already).
Hypership Still Out of Control sales disappointed and Hypership Out of Control sales continued their yearly decline. Free versions of Hypership Out of Control increased in downloads although the game has limited banners and doesn't monetize well. It's hard to imagine our iOS numbers doing better in 2015 with no new releases planned. It may be worth doing some updates to the free version of Hypership but that is difficult without working Mac dev hardware.
We'd hope at this point in time, having not actually worked on an XBLIG release in over a year, that we'd be making more money off other platforms but that is not the case. Abduction Action Plus! sold poorly compared to the original Abduction Action released in 2010 but those sales added to reasonably strong sales (for games several years old) of our two Trivia Or Die games made this platform our most profitable in 2014. Our XBLIG membership expired early in 2014 and we haven't done anything with the platform since (besides cash paychecks, which Microsoft sends increasingly later each quarter).
Developing games for the Ouya was probably the most colossal mistake we've made as a game developer. We spent $300 on a Xamarin license so we could port our games and a couple months of our time doing so and have yet to make a single cent from the platform over a year later (we have two releases, VolChaos and Abduction Action Plus!). On the plus side, we're only a few more sales away from hitting the $150 payment threshold and may actually get paid in 2015! Our game Bad Caterpillar is reasonably close to being done for Ouya but we've got no intention of finishing it after the extremely poor sales of our other titles. We will port it to PC though so not all that work is a waste since the work of porting from XNA to MonoGame was needed to do a PC release too (well, technically you could release on PC using XNA but the install prerequisites are painful and slow to install).
We try not to be too negative these days but Ouya really dropped the ball. The hardware itself is fine in our opinion but they've done a very poor job of marketing it to consumers. It still feels like outside of game developers, no one knows what this thing is. A console, no matter how big or small, is doomed to fail without an audience.
Sales Per Year
Without giving away actual numbers (although you can figure it out if you look at past wrap-ups), here is how our 2014 compared to other years. Of the six years we've been developing games, this was our third highest (or our fourth lowest if you're a pessimist). While we did have several releases like the other higher sales years, the platforms we released on weren't as healthy (2011 XBLIG vs 2014 XBLIG, Ouya, and non-Steam PC) and a lot of work we did, probably more so than any other year, went unreleased. Based on the foundation we have built going into 2015 (PS4 and Steam releases on their way), we would be really disappointed if 2015 is not our highest sales year of all time.
We worked on a number of titles that we simply did not finish in 2014 and got backburnered for various reasons. In the past, we typically haven't worked long spans on projects and not finished. Ideally we won't do this in the future either.
Bad Caterpillar for Ouya was near done but we had some technical issues with the process of debugging on the Ouya and then with Ouya sales being so bad, it didn't seem worth finishing. We will release this on PC at some point in 2015, as many of our Ouya changes help to facilitate that. A Steam release seems unlikely because its Greenlight votes are so low, but expect it on Desura and itcho.io at minimum.
Hypership Out of Control 2
Hypership Out of Control 2 just got pushed back for other various projects that were nearer to completion and required less funds to complete (lots of new artwork is still needed for Hypership 2, which we've spent a lot of time planning a Kickstarter for). We also designed this game with iOS in mind and with the changing iOS market and being unable to create new iOS games without spending a significant amount of money on new hardware, we are most likely going to focus this game on PC or console now instead which means a lot of rework. Given that we have been approved to release the original Hypership on Steam, it makes the most sense to finish that game first and use its success to help our Hypership 2 Kickstarter efforts.
Unnamed platformer (that is in dire need of a cool working title)
The scope of this game is just really big. We worked on it for a couple months and it's still a long, long ways off. Ultimately we opted to put it aside while we finish some more near-term projects. A 2015 release is probably too optimistic given everything else we have going on, but we certainly expect to do more work on it in 2015.
Updated version of VolChaos with new artwork, enemies, and levels and PS4 specific features (like Trophies). We will be giving it some kind of subtitle to indicate this is not standard VolChaos, although we aren't sure what that subtitle will be just yet. Hoping for a March or April release.
2014 was not a great year but not a bad year either. We came to grips that Ouya dev wasn't worth the time, threw in the towel on mobile, learned more about the PC market, and ventured into next generation game development on the PlayStation 4. While it would have been nice to release a few more titles, we really set ourselves up well for 2015. Expect big things from Fun Infused Games this year! Let us know how great we are in the comments below.
Hypership Out of Control Greenlit
With VolChaos getting really close to being Greenlit (it has been in the mid-90s out of 1,800 games in recent weeks and has reached #65 at the time of this writing), I've gotten into the habit of checking the progress of my various Steam Greenlight entries on a regular basis. Hypership Out of Control was my second furthest along game (it hasn't been on Greenlight as long as VolChaos) so imagine my surprise and excitement when after checking VolChaos and seeing it was still waiting at #65, I discovered Hypership Out of Control had been Greenlit! I checked my email and sure enough, there was an email from Steam saying "Congratulations, Hypership Out of Control has been Greenlit!"
Hypership Out of Control has long been my most highly regarded game. It sold pretty well on iOS and reasonably well on XBLIG (although sales on XBLIG didn't match the critical acclaim it got, such as Complex.com naming it their #1 title on the service). It's a good choice for my first Steam release but I really wasn't prepared for it jumping past VolChaos. I'm still kind of in shock about it. It has a higher percentage of Yes votes than VolChaos but far fewer overall Yes votes. I guess Steam looks at more than just total votes when picking titles to approve.
My current focus is still going to be getting VolChaos on PS4, but now I need to also devote some time to getting Hypership on Steam. Luckily there is already a working PC release (on Desura and itch.io) so it shouldn't be a major undertaking. I know I will need to update/replace the leaderboards to work with Steam but I still need to think what other changes I'd like to make for the game. I plan to do more than just a straight port of the existing PC release but given that I've been thinking about only VolChaos lately, I haven't really even considered what new updates I want to make. If you have thoughts, leave them in the comments below.
Here is the Hypership PC release (pre-Steam) trailer if you haven't seen the game yet. Also note that the coin sounds in the current version aren't so ear-piercingly loud as they are in the video.
VolChaos 1.3 Details
Last night I released the VolChaos PC 1.3 update for PC. You can get it from either of the two links below for $1.99 (the itch.io link also has a free 10 level demo if you just want to try it out).
Note: At the time of this post, you may need to use the “Full Zip” link to get the 1.3 version, the Release link still seems to be showing 1.0.
And if you'd like to see us on Steam, stop by here and vote us up!
This is far and away the biggest update I’ve done to VolChaos since its release. Most of these changes came about because I wanted to really improve the game for its PS4 release and it was simpler to debug/test while running the PC version so PC users now get to benefit from these changes too. I’ll detail all the changes further below, but first I wanted to show off a short playthrough of the 1.3 release.
So what’s new with this version? Plenty and not just cosmetic.
- New enemies
There are two new enemies with two behavior variations that have been added to the game. The first is a happy looking flame that jumps back and forth or up and down. The second is a wisp flame that chases the player (normal orange and faster blue variations). These have been added in spots throughout the game to make it more fun or challenging.
- New artwork
The backgrounds have been improved in all the levels as well as some structural cosmetic changes to the look of the levels. I think the 1.3 version looks significantly better than the blocky previous versions.
- Updated levels
Every single level in the game (all 42) has been updated in some form or fashion. I’ve generally updated the levels to flow better and avoid spikes in difficultly that were previous present. I’ve played a lot of the old levels over the past four years and have learned a thing or two about VolChaos levels since I originally made them.
- Player movements
I made three changes to how the player moves. First, I added deceleration to the player if they are jumping and stop pressing directions (previously you would continue in that direction unless you pressed the opposite direction). This allows for much more precise jumping. Second, now when you’re running, you will jump higher than from a standstill. This changes how you can progress through levels since running can now let a longer and higher jump than from a standstill. Finally I added "phantom jumping". This basically means that in the split second after you run off an edge, you can press jump and you'll jump even though technically you're off the edge. While this is completely unrealistic, its something that makes the game feel better. There is little else worse in a game than feeling cheated and phantom jumping prevents situations where you feel like you did press jump but still went off the edge.
Let me know in the comments below of what you think about the new version! Stay tuned for even more VolChaos updates when the PS4 version releases later this year. The PS4 version will feature everything in the 1.3 PC release plus a slew of new levels and other PS4 specific features (like Trophies).
Fun Update 10.7.2014
I haven’t been too vocal about what I’ve been up to lately but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Sometimes when you’re doing a lot of things, it takes longer for each thing to get done, I think that’s kinda why it seems quiet around here when really behind the scenes it has been anything but. Going forward, I am going to try and do these “Fun Update” pieces every week or two, just so you don’t forget about us (I believe that’s the same reason Dr. Dre started his blog too).
The biggest, most vocal recent news happening with Fun Infused Games has been the release of two of our titles on PC, Hypership Out of Control and VolChaos. You can get them both on Desura.com
for $1.99 US each. I’ve also got the wheels spinning on having VolChaos in an upcoming bundle with several other games, expect more news on that in the next week. PC sales so far have been really low but the bundle sales of VolChaos should pretty much make that a worthwhile port and could even promote the game enough that it will pass through Greenlight and I’ll be able to release it on Steam. I’ll be looking into getting my games in other bundles in the near future as well as this seems like the most surefire way to sell games on the PC.
I’ve also done some early work on the PC port of Abduction Action! Plus. Eventually I’d also like to get Bad Caterpillar and 2D Voxel Madness on the PC too. Once I have five PC games released, I could even do my own Fun Infused Games bundle.
I’ve got my PS4 dev kit setup and figured out how to deploy stuff to it. I’m running into a few issues still but I feel like I’m very, very close to having a playable game and then will just have to iron out bugs and PS4 specific issues. My previous PC and Ouya ports were all done with MonoGame thus making these much easier to port to PS4 also using MonoGame.
My first PS4 release will be an enhanced version of VolChaos (it will probably be subtitled something to indicate that, like VolChaos: Huge Sales Edition or VolChaos: The Reason to buy a PS4 Edition or VolChaos: Please Buy this Game because the Developer has a Family to Feed). I’ve chosen this as my first PS4 release over other titles because I think this is a title well suited to a console and because it doesn’t have many (any?) network sharing features (like online high scores) that would complicate my first PS4 release. I want to try and keep it simple on my first foray on the Sony platform. Enhancements to VolChaos will include new levels, new graphics, and potentially some new enemies and mechanics. Additionally I’ll tweak some of the levels to make the game more playable (I already did this on a few of the earlier levels of the PC port as some of the early levels were either strange or overly difficult).
I will likely do enhanced versions of the other titles I ported to PC after that. Once I get those out of the way, I will focus on new releases, likely exclusive to the PS4 platform. I may someday do Xbox One games as well, but only once they support MonoGame and only if it makes sense. While Sony isn’t requiring me to be exclusive with any releases, I got the impression they’ll put more effort into promoting my games if I am. I like the idea of sticking with one platform too as I find working on new titles much more interesting than doing ports of existing ones. If my titles sell well on PS4, I’m just going to keep making new games for PS4.
Besides working on ports and business dealings lately, I’ve also put a lot of work into a new release. I’m not ready to announce anything yet, mainly because I’m using Super Mario World placeholder artwork right now and that doesn’t lend well to screen shots or videos to show off, but it’s something I’m pretty excited about. It’s a pretty big project, the scope is my biggest to date, so it is still a long way off from release. I might backburner it for a while too, as I would like to get Hypership Out of Control 2 released as well. As much as I’d like to do a big release, I also don’t want to go years between releases either. My last completely original new title was Bad Caterpillar in February of 2013.
Speaking of Hypership Out of Control 2, I originally was designing this game with mobile platforms in mind, but I think I’m going to change it to focus on PC or PS4 instead. My Mac hardware has unfortunately aged to a point where I cannot effectively (or possibly at all) develop games anymore and it would require a big monetary investment to purchase a new Mac and a new testing device (iPod or iPad). Given the poor sales of Hypership Still Out of Control on iOS and the general malaise towards paid mobile games these days, mobile is no longer a platform that excites me. Like XBLIG and Ouya before it, I’m cutting the cord on mobile.
There is a lot going on with Fun Infused Games. Overall 2013 and 2014 have been kinda quiet years for our little game company but the tail end of 2014 and 2015 show a lot of promise, from our first PS4 releases to the release of the sequel to our most acclaimed title to date. Stay tuned to this website and follow us on twitter at @FunInfused
for the latest updates and occasionally witty banter.
Platform Trial and Errors
The last few years I've been struggling with finding the right platform to release my games on. I have 10 XBLIG games and even though I haven't released a game since Dec/January, I still pull down a decent income (mostly from my two trivia games that feature Avatars). I won't tell anyone that you can't make money on XBLIG because you can, but the ceiling isn't close to as high as it used to be. The last couple of my releases sold a fraction of what the releases from 4-5 years ago did. I’m certain in that time span I’ve improved as a developer and it is frustrating to see what I perceive as better games selling worse. The style of games I like to make generally take a minimum of 4 months of work and on the XBLIG platform, I feel the most I can make off that is about 2,000 sales at $1 (70% of which I get to keep). For me, the time and money spent on assets like art and music simply don't make it a worthwhile investment.
I tried iOS and my first game sold well but maybe it got lucky (Apple featured it). My second released didn't come even close, it just fell into the void without anyone really noticing. I also reached a point where my Mac is borderline too old and the iPod I use for testing is too dated. My Mac can’t run emulators at more than 1 FPS (if that) or update to the latest version of XCode and my iPod is too old to test the new phone features like widescreen display, so I need to invest in new dev and test hardware if I want to do more iOS games. Whether or not paid games can be viable over F2P games is also questionable. My designs work better as paid games and I do not desire to make lesser games or do things to take advantage of my customers so I can earn more. All these things coupled with a general sense that my games play better on a TV while using a gamepad make me want to pass on iOS / mobile development.
I released two games for Ouya and lost money overall on that venture (I haven’t even made back half the $300 price required for the Xamarin license I needed to buy in order to port C# code to an Android device). I was nearly finished with a third release but one of the Ouya updates in January left me unable to debug (my PC can no longer see my Ouya). I spent a few hours trying to fix this and asked around on some forums but could not find a resolution and given the extremely low sales at that point, it did not seem worth the effort to spend any more time on this. Sometimes cutting bait is your best option, something I really should have done after the first Ouya game.
I released a PC game that's only sold a handful of copies (outside of Steam, it's really hard to sell PC games). If I can get on Steam this will change or possibly get included in some bundles, but until then PC isn’t a very viable platform for me either. Getting on Steam is hard when you’re a little guy who isn’t already on Steam.
I have since been looking into the various next gen consoles. XBox One development seems too closed off. I'm not a big enough player to attract Microsoft's attention and the ID@Xbox indie program is little more than XBLA with a mailing list and Twitter account. Nintendo seems like they have a reasonable indie program but I worry about the long term viability of the Wii U and there is a somewhat high (for an indie developer) cost to get going, which is more worrisome given my first concern. I could do 3DS as well and I think my games would work well on that platform but this would also require me to completely rewrite the engines for my games which is something I would ideally avoid.
I’ve decided my next platform will be Sony’s PS4. I feel like the ceiling on PS4 is much higher than any of the platforms I’ve released games on so far, the people I’ve talked with at Sony seem to be very helpful, and being a console played on TVs with gamepads is exactly the kind of device I want to be making games for. The past few years have been kinda rocky for me but I think I may have finally found a platform where I can find the success I desire. Wish me luck!
Hypership To PC Fully Detailed
I’ve been working on the PC port of Hypership Out of Control for several months now. For gameplay that is already done, you’re probably wondering why it is taking so long to finish this up. Well, there are a number of reasons for that which I will detail below. With the various tweaks and additions I’ve made for this port, it probably is the best version of Hypership to date thanks to my overly due diligence.
Online High Scores
Hypership on XBLIG used a peer to peer system for sharing high scores which worked moderately OK, Hypership on iOS used GameCenter, and I created my own system for Hypership on WP7. After investigating what was available for PC, I decided that I would create my own system again for the PC port (though I did borrow heavily from the WP7 version). This involved creating a web service for the game to interface with for saving and loading high scores and user management and in the game I had to create new UI for joining, logging on, and registering users. This was really the biggest reason Hypership PC has taken longer but I developed this suite of online high scores with the idea it would be reusable for future games, so when I do the PC port of Bad Caterpillar, adding online high scores should be trivial.
Releasing on consoles I didn’t have to worry much about this, I had one screen resolution to target. For the PC version, I had to support something that worked for the user. I decided it would be best to determine the user’s current resolution, run full screen, and scale the game screen to that resolution. This avoid having to determine valid screen resolutions and change the resolution from what the user is currently using. I felt this was the surest way to ensure Hypership ran on as many PC platforms as possible.
Mouse and Keyboard Control
In addition to supporting 4 Xbox 360 gamepads, I also updated Hypership PC to support keyboard or mouse control. Mouse control is probably the biggest deal because it makes the game play much more like the iOS version (the most well received variant of Hypership). The level of precision control you get with the mouse far exceeds any of the other control schemes and I full expect this will be the weapon of choice for those who climb to the top of the leaderboards.
I’ve talked about this before, but once again my early games had collections of particles attached to every item, enemy, player, etc. It’s a lot more efficient to have one big collection of particles to loop through than to have a number of smaller collections on a number of objects. Besides just changing this design, I also made particles bigger, more numerous, and more random and subsequently Hypership PC is the coolest looking iteration of the game.
One of the cool additions related to this now when you use a bomb to clear the screen, every block has a particle explosion. For performance reasons, the blocks just disappeared on the XBLIG version. This effect ends up looking pretty cool.
Old and New Graphics
Graphically Hypership has gone through a few facelifts in its life. I did the original artwork for the first XBLIG version and then later I hired an artist for better artwork. Hypership Still Out of Control also had modified artwork and ship colors added. For Hypership PC, in one way or another, any of the artwork is available. So you can play the game like it was originally envisioned or in the much newer and better forms.
The Join Screen got a lot of love for Hypership PC. In the mobile versions, you could only pick one ship, in the XBLIG version each ship corresponded to a gamepad. For the PC version, I added a lot more depth to this screen. You can play with any combination (up to four players) of 4 Xbox 360 controllers, keyboard, and mouse. Each player can then choose the color of their ship from any available and sign in to the online high scores system.
On mobile and XBLIG, I was not worried about storing level files as plain text. On PC though, it would be far too easy to access them and modify the levels. If someone did that and just deleted all the blocks, they could easily reach the top of the leaderboards. I decided to not only encrypt the text of the levels but then integrate the levels themselves into the EXE for Hypership. This should (in theory) prevent any funny business.
On the other platforms I simply could generate a file used for the installation. On PC, I needed to create a new installer and install some dependencies. I want to blog more in depth on this later but I’ll just say for now this was a fair amount more complicated than what had to be done for the previous releases.
Because there are many PC configurations available, I did testing on as many systems as I could. I found a few errors (mostly on the installation) that needed to be addressed. I expect as the game gets out more, I will find more problems too, but for now I’ve tested and verified it can run on Windows Vista, 7, and 8.
As of now Hypership PC is awaiting approval at Desura and hopefully it can be released next week. If you want a taste of it now, you can get the demo here
or check out the PC trailer below.
PC Releasing Our Games
Our first about 10 games were released on Xbox Live Indie Games, then WP7, iOS, and Ouya followed. One area I’ve yet to tackle is PC, until now (well, until soon). Working on these other platforms (besides iOS), there was a single screen resolution to work with and the install packages required for distribution were relatively simple. There was also generally one hardware platform to support. PC is a very different beast, millions of hardware and software configurations, multiple screen resolutions, and no automated installer from the IDE (note Visual Studio does have something automatic built in but it doesn’t work very well in my experience). PC releases up until now have felt like a hassle and without being on Steam, I’ve heard from several developer friends that sales aren’t very good. Largely for these few reasons, I’ve not focused on PC releases. For reasons that I’ll announce at a later date, it’s been a priority to get one of my games ready for PC though and I’ve finally really taken the plunge. Sometimes all it takes is a little third party push.
I’ve been porting my games to MonoGame for some time now, that’s the route I need to take to get them on Android platforms like Ouya, FireTV, and phones and tablets. I also was doing this with consideration for PC releases, as MonoGame has a lot fewer dependencies than XNA does when it comes to creating installers. You want to play my 25 meg XNA game? Sad to say you’ll need to install the .Net framework, XNA redistribution pack, the Windows Mega-Slow Update 2034, this week’s update to Java and Flash, and a handful of other items (or maybe just those first two). If you didn’t already have the prerequisites, it made for a very long install for a very small game, long enough that I even found some gamers gave up on playing the game (I did release some demo PC games once upon a time).
Hypership Out of Control (based on the XBLIG version but with a few improvements) will be my first PC release, ideally within the next month. VolChaos will be my next release since it is pretty close to ready too (about a year ago I spent a month or two preparing a PC port before starting on some other projects). What game of ours would you like to see ported next?
Our Games on GreenLight
In honor of GreenLight going away within the year, I’d like to point out my various games on GreenLight that in all likelihood will never complete the process. That’s not the worst thing in the world though, I feel like just having them out there has given me some feedback (although much of it bad feedback) and gotten new people interested in Fun Infused Games. I added VolChaos first, when GreenLight initially went live, and then added the various other games about a month ago when I finally decided that I hated having $99 in my pocket. I’d love your support on any of these games although I’m not expecting any of them to be approved while GreenLight still exists.
Days on GreenLight: 570
Percent to the top 100: 41%
Abduction Action! Plus
Days on GreenLight: 42
Percent to the top 100: 16%
Days on GreenLight: 23
Percent to the top 100: 5%
2D Voxel Madness
Days on GreenLight: 22
Percent to the top 100: 11%
Hypership Out of Control 2
Days on GreenLight: 7
Percent to the top 100: 8%
In addition to the original Hypership, these are all the games that I would like to get on PC. I figured having them on GreenLight was a good start and good motivation to finally get them on platforms other than XBLIG and Ouya… platforms where people might actually buy them.
Steam Users Don't Get 2D Voxel Madness
Years ago I made a joke on Twitter about 2D voxels that eventually lead to my game 2D Voxel Madness. Obviously this is a nonsensical idea, voxels are volumetric pixels. If you remove the volume dimension then they’re just pixels. I find that idea funny and I think people that get it do too. By and large, commentors on my GreenLight page for 2D Voxel Madness
don’t get it. While the game isn’t anywhere close to being GreenLighted, the continued comments that voxels can’t be 2D provide a lot of entertainment. Nearly every day it seems I get at least one person calling me out for 2D voxels in a pretty serious tone. Here are just some of those:
As many have said, there is no such thing as a 2d voxel. I don't think you understand what the word voxel means.
You do realise that 2D "voxels" are ... just ... friggin' pixels, right?
How are these in any shape or form Volumetric Pixels?
Why not call this game Pixel Madness or Sprite Madness? Because that would make a lot more sense, as there's no such thing as a 2D Voxel.
As many people have already said, 2D voxels are pixels. :P
apparently someone is not aware what "voxel" means
2D Voxel is a pixel
Voxel = Volumetric Pixel = 3D Pixel.. what the heck?
Do this guy even know what voxel means?
Um... how can you have a 2D voxel? A voxel is the 3D equivalent of a pixel...
Not a single voxel in your game. There is no such thing as a 2D voxel. No
I think you meant "sprite", not voxel.
I don't think you know what 'voxel' means.
While the use of the word Voxel is evidently wrong (Voxel=3D element)...
A Voxel is a strictly 3D concept. It's not a stand-in word for "Hurf durf blocks that can be destroyed like in minecraft".
That said, this looks pretty much as bad as what I'd expect from anyone dumb enough to call their game "2D Voxel Madness" without even bothering to google what a Voxel actually is.
This has NOTHING to do with voxels. Downvoted for misleading name
You can't have a 2D voxel. A voxel is a VOLUMETRIC PIXEL. A 2D entity has no volume. o.O;
Yeah. I also came to comment that a "2D Voxel" is a pixel. A voxel is a pixel with 3D volume.
2D Voxel... you mean a pixel?
A "voxel" is a representation of THREE-dimensional space! God damn it!
2D Voxel? Really?
Are these people just missing a good joke or are 2D voxels just not as clever as I think they are? I’m not sure, but I’m rather enjoying the comments on GreenLight for a change.
Hypership 2 Helper Ships
It seems like every shmup has some kind of secondary helper ships that either increase firepower or otherwise add new abilities to the main ship. In evaluating new features to add into Hypership 2, I really like the idea of some kind of helper ships and since this is my game, I’ve added them.
[We haven’t gotten the final artwork for helper ships yet but just imagine some awesome
looking helper ships on the left and right sides of your main ship. Wow, that’s amazing!]
As helper ships currently stand (the game is in development so any aspect of this could change), I am allowing up to two helper ships that will flank the right and left sides of your main ship. They will fire lasers but at half the rate of the main ship (this may change) and also they can collect coins. The coin collecting actually may be their biggest benefit because with a couple helper ships, you can collect huge groups of coins that you would otherwise only be able to cut a narrow path through.
My initial thought was to make the helper ships explode if they hit anything, thus while adding a benefit of more firepower and coin collecting abilities, it would make navigating levels more difficult. I’ve since changed my mind on this for two reasons. First it is simply too hard. Unless I littered levels with helper ships to collect, they would barely last with the player and barely add any benefit. If I am going to add something cool into my games, I want the player to be able to use that cool feature as much as possible. Second are performance concerns. I want Hypership 2 to run on a number of platforms and essentially tripling collision detections is something that worries me in that regard. I think it is actually better to allow them to pass through objects without taking damage and I’ll be giving them a semi transparent look to kinda indicate their ghost-ness.
A lot of the work done on Hypership 2 thus far has been rewriting the engine (I’m not proud of the original Hypership code) and adding in a lot of new graphical features. The helper ships are just the first of many all new features I’ll be adding into the game. In the next month I hope to transform Hypership 2 from a game that looks like a better looking version of Hypership 1 into something that also plays a lot better and is a lot more unique. Helper ships are just the tip of that iceberg.
Coins Are Not Just Coins
The coins in Hypership may seem at first glance to be just coins, but they are much more than that and ultimately add a lot more to the game than one may realize just looking at them. As a side note, this is a blog post I’ve wanted to write for close to a year after a post-GDC, post-bar discussion with a few fellow developers. Yes, I’m slow.
Most obviously coins are something you collect that adds points to your score. Besides just scoring points, there is a pleasant “ding” sound, particle effect, and on screen “+XXX” message displayed. Hypership 2 also adds a light up effect to the UI. Collecting coins makes the gamer feel good and because there are a lot of coins to collect, there is a lot of feel good to go around.
For every 100 coins you collect, you get a +1x point multiplier. This quickly makes each life more worthwhile because once you have a high multiplier and are racking up oodles of points, you don’t want to go back down to 1x. The faster you can collect coins, the quicker you can get the multiplier up and this also drives your desire to take chances to get coins you might otherwise let go.
In Hypership 2, I will be adding additional UI effects to make sure you’re aware each time you reach a new multiplier. This is a feel good moment for the player and they should be made aware. It’s something I wish was more visible in the original Hypership.
In Hypership 2, the lasers of the ship will also be upgraded as you collect more coins. Initially you start firing one laser at a time. Collecting more coins will give you double and then triple lasers (no current plans for quad lasers but hey, it’s still early). Just like the point multipliers, these upgrades make the player value their current life more. Additionally they make the game easier.
We make shapes and messages out of coins. A giant skull or the message “DIE” written in coins adds a little flavor to the game. Sometimes they’re a warning, often times they’re just something silly to make the player smile. I try to put memorable moments in my games and seeing “DIE DIE DIE” written in coins right before a cluster of fast moving space mines is something players will remember. This was something I accidentally stumbled across and didn’t realize how much it was liked until gamers started telling me they really enjoyed the various words spelled out within the levels.
Adding coins in a line also allows me to give some direction to where the player is traveling. Since I assume players will want to collect coins, I can create lines of coins that take players to certain areas of the screen, in a sense it puts the player on rails without them realizing it. I can be nice and help them navigate through a difficult area of blocks or I can be cruel and navigate them straight into an asteroid (I do more of the nice and slip in a few instances of cruel). This helps with level design because it makes it most likely players will hit the spots of the level I want them to hit and when I take players through a difficult area, it makes them feel more accomplished then they may otherwise be if they tried to go through blind and crashed and burned. You don't always have to be trying to kill the player, sometimes it's better to make them feel good at your game instead.
Higher Value Coins
Besides the standard +1 coin, there are +5 and +10 coins in Hypership. After seeing mostly gold coins, a shiny red or green coin is unique that stands out and gives the player a sense of “I must get that”. They score more, feel better about it, and are willing to take more risks to get them. It is more rewarding to go through a tough optional section and be rewarded with a green or red coin than it is a simple +1 gold coin.
Hypership 2 also adds three blue coins per level and it is displayed on the UI how many you have collected. Completing a level with all three rewards the player with a whole bunch of bonus points. Knowing where the blue coins are is very valuable and players will make it a point to try and collect all three of these each level.
Hopefully I’ve demonstrated that something as simple as a coin can add a lot more to the game than you’d realize at first glance. Using them in meaningful ways can be used to make your game more fun, affect the difficultly of your game, and make the whole trip a lot more interesting.
Fun Infused Games 2013 Wrap-up
Fun Infused Games started in 2009 and we released our first game in 2010. It is hard to believe it has already been over four years of full time operations. To date we have released 15 games for XBLIG, iOS, Ouya, and WP7. That’s not a bad run for the time we’ve been working. Sadly the elusive “runaway mega hit retire to the Bahamas game hasn’t come yet”. Most years I like to do these wrap-ups to talk about how the year went, what I’ve learned, and then tell a little bit about where I’m planning to take Fun Infused Games in the following year.
NOTE: The site these old wrap-ups are posted on currently has some database issues. You may have to reload a few times to get them to load without errors.
You might notice a 2012 wrap-up isn’t linked. That is because I never posted one. I did actually write the wrap-up but 2012 overall wasn’t a good year and the wrap-up felt too much like sour grapes. Besides disappointing sales of released titles, games dev on projects went way over expectations so projects that didn’t sell well took too long to make. Thankfully 2013 went better.
Games released in 2013
In total we released four games in 2013. Trivia or Die: Movie Edition for XBLIG in January, Bad Caterpillar for XBLIG in February (Valentine’s Day!) and Abduction Action! Plus for Ouya in November and XBLIG in December. The first two were original titles and the second two (one?) were ports. Additionally we nearly released two other games, VolChaos for Ouya and Hypership Still Out of Control for iOS, but they slipped to become 2014 January releases. While I’m not going to give out specific sales numbers this year, ToD was the best selling of these new releases and continues to sell well today. Below are trailers for these titles (besides ToD since I didn’t make a trailer for that release).
Hypership Out of Control 2
Besides the titles we released in 2013, I also put significant work into the first true sequel I’ve ever made, Hypership Out of Control 2. I started work on this after Bad Caterpillar was released and before I worked on Ouya ports of Abduction Action! and VolChaos. This is a more ambitious project than anything I’ve worked on before and I have been taking my time to do it right. Also I’ve spent some time working on a Kickstarter campaign for it, since the game will require a lot more artwork, sound, and music than any of my current titles. I hope to do the Kickstarter most likely in March although I might let it slip a little later so that I can spend some time at PAX East trying to drum up more support for said Kickstarter.
I also attended my first Game Developers conference in 2013. It was awesome spending the day hearing various game developer talks and spending the nights interacting with my fellow indie devs whom I’ve only previously ever met online. I learned a ton and met a lot of cool people. I would really like to go again but logistically it probably won’t work in 2014. Thankfully at least I’ll be able to be at PAX East.
2013 was the first year where I’ve finally moved on from XNA and XBLIG. I expect Abduction Action! Plus on XBLIG will probably be my last XNA/XBLIG title. With new platforms available and a declining userbase on XBLIG, I spent a good amount of time in 2013 looking into what is next for Fun Infused Games. For the old games, a move to MonoGame and PC or Android platforms is likely. For new games going forward, I’m really liking the idea of Unity3D, which seems to be used everywhere these days. Besides the platforms I can already release for, I’m taking a hard look at next get consoles and I think there is a good chance we will release our games on one or more of those platforms too.
I did more ports in 2013 than any year before and being able to use something like Unity3D to make this process easier and quicker is a lot higher priority for me than it ever was in the past. Below is an earlier video of a game (currently in XNA) that I would like to get ported to run on Unity3D and release to PC and consoles.
As mentioned earlier, I will be working on Hypership Out of Control 2, a Kickstarter for Hypership Out of Control 2, and the unnamed Unity3D platformer in 2014. I would also like to get ports of Bad Caterpillar on Ouya and mobile devies, a port of 2D Voxel Madness on Ouya, and a port of Abduction Action! Plus on mobile devices. If that leaves me any time left, I’d like to try and get the original Hypership on PC and Android devices too. Of course this is just what I’m saying now. I could end up diving headfirst into Hypership 2 and ignore all these ports (porting isn’t as fun as working on new games) or maybe I have some other crazy cool idea I decide to sneak in instead. That’s the beauty of being an indie developer though, no one but me tells me what to do.
I also had the goal of when I started Fun Infused Games to be doing well by year 5. Year 1 and 2 went well enough, year 3 was a downer, and year 4 was a bit more of a return to form. This is the big year coming up. I think I can make great strides. While I haven’t had big successes recently, I believe the quality of my games now vs a few years ago is a significant improvement. Crossing my fingers this is the year that something finally breaks through. The biggest challenge may ultimately be determining what platform is the best place to release my future games on. This was much easier when I was just an XBLIG developer.
The Ouya to PC Master Plan
Currently two of our games are now available for the Ouya, Abduction Action Plus! and VolChaos. I’d like to get many of our other releases on that platform too (Bad Caterpillar, 2D Voxel Madness, and potentially Hypership Out of Control). Unsurprisingly our sales on Ouya thus far haven’t been good (our total sales so far are nearly $75 after Ouya’s cut) so why would we continue to invest in this platform? While I do see room for growth on Ouya into something bigger (Target kiosks are coming which will help consumer awareness, the number one issue with Ouya in my opinion), that’s not the main or only reason.
If it’s on Ouya, it’s got to be good!
All the titles I’ve released so far and plan to port to Ouya in the future were written using XNA. The simplest way to get these games on platforms other than XBLIG is by using MonoGame. While I do really like the consoles, my ultimate goal is to get these releases on PC (and hopefully Steam some day). Simply replacing the XNA pieces with MonoGame pieces (which I have to do for every XNA to PC port) gives me a game that pretty much runs on the Ouya. At that point to do an Ouya release requires really only three areas to address (sometimes four if performance is an issue, but let’s ignore that for today). I should also mention that my Ouya and PC ports use the exact same code base with simple switches in code that handle platform specific features.
First the UI needs to be addressed. Xbox buttons need to be replaced with Ouya buttons. Starting with the port of VolChaos, I’ve been doing my ports in a way that they load different graphic assets depending on the platform I’m building them for. Setting that up is easy and now doing Ouya or PC UI graphics becomes mostly about the time it takes to replace buttons on images.
Second is the screen resolution / sizing. There appears to be a bug in MonoGame when running on the Ouya that doesn’t allow you to specify a screen resolution. I’d like to specify 1280x720 but it seems to instead take the largest size my TV can handle and without digging deep into MonoGame code (which I could since its open source but I won’t because I’m lazy), the easiest way to resolve that is to draw the game at 1280x720 and then resize it to whatever resolution the game ends up running at. This isn’t a bad thing though because it’s pretty close to what I’ll have to do in order for the PC version to handle multiple screen resolutions too.
Finally is handling purchasing. This is the most different piece and likely nothing like what I will do on the PC. I have set this up on two Ouya games so far though and it isn’t a big deal to do again. I've done a good job separating this too so it will be easy to put in PC specific code when I need to.
Given that these three spots aren’t significant work beyond what I’m already doing for future PC ports (likely less work than switching XNA to MonoGame), even in light of poor sales I feel it’s not a bad idea to do the Ouya ports. I’m increasing awareness of Fun Infused Games while expanding to a newer market and who knows, maybe one of my games will hit there. Even worst case, once I get all my games ported over, I should have a little extra income in my coffers ever month for hopefully many years to come.
The Slightly Too Long Story of Hypership Still Out of Control
Not happy to allow the Wii U naming to be the only party in town confusing consumers, ten days ago I released Fun Infused’s latest iOS masterpiece Hypership Still Out of Control. Is it a sequel? Is it an updated? Is it a boat? These are all questions that are pouring in from our vocal fanbase. I’d like to take the time now to clear this up.
First off, aside from the name, Hypership Still Out of Control on iOS shares really nothing with Hypership Still Out of Control on XBLIG. The XBLIG version was really just the original XBLIG version plus the graphic we had created for the iOS version with some tweaks made to the existing levels and no online high scores. I would have liked to have simply updated the original graphics in the XBLIG version but unfortunately it was an XNA 3.x game and at that point, only XNA 4.x games could be submitted to XBLIG. Updating the online scores to XNA 4 was going to be a major undertaking that I did not want to do. Rather than update the original XBLIG game and remove online high scores, I created an updated version without the scores but with all the other cool new stuff and Hypership Still Out of Control was born.
In February 2013, I started work on Hypership Out of Control 2. While I got sidetracked with other projects (such as Ouya ports of Abduction Action! and VolChaos), I have done a significant amount of work on Hypership 2. Hypership 2 is going away from the retro pixel art look of Hypership 1 and I want to have some really unique environments and thus it has required me to invest a lot more money in artwork (and music and eventually sounds) than I did for the first game or any other game I’ve created to date. My intention is to do a Kickstarter campaign to help fund this (I have paid for the first level art and most of the music out of pocket so far). When I finished my ports and was ready to do the Kickstarter campaign, it was about late November. I felt that running my Kickstarter campaign in December (given that people would be spending money on Christmas gifts) wasn’t the best idea. This left me with a month of time to kill.
Wanting a small project I could realistically finish in a month, Hypership Still Out of Control for iOS was born. By releasing this game, I could drum up more interest in the Hypership brand and make some money to help with getting more cool stuff into Hypership 2 before the big Kickstarter started. Given a month deadline on this project, I wasn’t going to redo everything and with so many new ideas already planned for Hypership 2, I felt the best way to go was to create new waves and do a few other minor tweaks to the gameplay on an engine largely the same as the first Hypership.
So Hypership Still Out of Control on iOS got ten brand new waves. I took some ideas for wave design from the original and added some new twists. I really honestly feel the level design in Still is much better than that in the original. When I made the original waves, I was an inexperienced Hypership pilot, I learned a lot more about how to make cool waves after many, many play throughs of the first game in the years that followed. I also shortened the levels some and made them all the same length. I wanted gamers to have a more varied experience with each play through than the original, an idea that I will likely also incorporate in Hypership 2. I then recolored many of the level graphics so the waves looked more unique in addition to playing more uniquely. Because the levels were shorter, I had to tweak powerup length too as it was initially too easy to finish levels if you collected invincibility or power shot powerups. Lastly, I cycled in some new music to replace one of the less exciting songs from the original.
So essential Hypership Still Out of Control is a semi-sequel but it’s most certainly a standalone game too. It’s like what Lost Levels was to Super Mario Brothers or what Doom 2 was to Doom. Same basic engine, same basic features, all new and more creative level designs. I really do think that Hypership fans will enjoy this game and hopefully keep them satisfied until the full blow sequel arrives.
Abduction Action! Getting New Artwork
Abduction Action! was our second release. On our first game Nasty, we spent a decent (for us) amount on artwork only to have the game bomb. In hindsight we didn't price it correctly and had unrealistically high expectations (as most first time game developers likely do). Because we spent a lot of money on artwork and music for our first game and didn't even break even on sales, our second release was done much more cheaply. One aspect of that cheapness was that we did 95% of the artwork for the game in-house (the box art and a couple backgrounds were done by others).
Recently we have been working on porting Abduction Action! to the Ouya console. We have since had decent sales on a few of our game series (Hypership on iOS, the Trivia or Die series on XBLIG) and made the decision to part ways with our less than stellar artwork for new versions by a real artist. We've always thought Abduction Action! (our fourth bestselling XBLIG title) could have sold more if it looked better as its got a fun, not really done by any other game premise to it.
Below are a few pieces of the updated artwork that you will see in the Ouya port of Abduction Action!. We are going to refer to this version of Abduction Action! as Abudction Action! +. There is a good chance you'll see this version of the game making it to PC, Android, and XBLIG (in some form) as well.
Hypership 2 Video Analysis
By now you have likely seen the latest Hypership 2 video footage close to a hundred times. If not, check it out below.
I just wanted to take a few minutes of your time and talk about some of the new changes to Hypership you've seen in this video. By no means are these all the new changes you'll see but rather just most of what you'll notice in this early version of the game.
Most obviously, we've crafted a deep and meaningful story. The simple line "Oh no, not again" conveys so many emotions... terror, annoyance, disappointment, regret, hunger, madness and perhaps a little lust. I expect to win no less than five "Best Story" awards for this brilliant yet simple storyline. William Shakespeare personally rose from the grave just to congratulate me on the greatness of this writing.
After that, you can see that we've clearly upped the graphic quality of this game. The original Hypership was done in lower resolution and scaled up four times. Partially this was done because I have an unhealthy love of pixel art but it was also done for cost reasons, as I pay others to do the artwork for my games due to a talent for art that peaked in the fourth grade. Thanks to a hot streak at the Blackjack tables, Hypership 2 will boast 1:1 graphic resolutions just like nearly ever normal game today. The same bright and vibrant colors featured in the original will still be there (along with an off-kilter sense of humor) but it'll all look a lot better.
Hypership 2 also features several parallax layers of blocks, just like real life space. The effect is so realistic that you'll feel like you're Neal Armstrong himself flying through space at breakneck speeds on a collision course with the moon and certain death. There are also layers of blocks you can fly underneath. So that's cool too, think of it like driving under an overpass except without the annoying high school dropouts trying to throw chewed gum into your open convertible top.
Many people really enjoyed the original tunes of Hypership. This time around we're moving on from chip-tune music to a more rocking beat with organ melodies (music is now by Zack Parrish
). I'm not good at describing music so just go and listen to the video again, your ears will thank you.
Lastly I wanted to make the reasons for collecting coins more meaningful in this game. In the original, every 100 coins increases your score multiplier but I believe a lot of gamers didn't realize this and thus weren't as motivated to collect coins beyond any natural tendencies for hoarding. So to that end, once you collect 200 coins, your single laser upgrades to a dual laser, effectively doubling your killing power. Double killing power is something no gamer will miss. We can only imagine what should happen were you to collect 400 coins...
Anyways, I do hope you've enjoyed the video and learning a little more here about it. By no means is this all Hypership 2 has to offer but rather a taste of what we've been able to include so far. Stay tuned for more Hypership 2 news.
Going iOS is Hard to Do
Hypership Out of Control was released for several platforms including XBLIG, WP7, and iOS. Because of the smaller screen width, the WP7 and iOS releases also required completely new levels. What people probably don’t realize is that the XBLIG version was responsible for creating the levels for its smaller screened counterparts.
Typically I reuse the same game engine you play the game with for the editors in my games, as is the case with Hypership Out of Control, Abduction Action!, and Volchaos. This cuts down on not only the initial work of setting up an editor but also the effort needed to keep the game and editor in sync and allows me to edit a level and immediately drop into that level to play it. For the mobile versions of Hypership, I simply added a toggle in the XBLIG editor that cut down the width of the screen. The level save files are identical between the two versions of this game (you could actually import the mobile versions into the XBLIG version and play the game, though about half the screen would be empty).
This worked great when I had created the XBLIG version of the game first but causes a dilemma going forward as I plan to do iOS specific releases. Creating the levels on an iOS device would be less than ideal. Creating them on the iOS emulator on my Mac won’t work either (emulator performance on my Mac Mini is terrible). Probably the best option at this point would be to create a level editor for these games. But if I’m going through the trouble of creating an entire editor, the amount of steps left to create an XBLIG or PC version of the same game aren’t that much more either.
This leaves me at a bit of a crossroads. While I desire to do some games only for iOS, it seems I can’t totally get myself away from the PC/XBLIG platform either (baring a switch to something like Unity3D, which I’m not ready to do just yet). Additionally my familiarity with that technology means I can prototype my games far quicker than I could developing just on iOS. It was easy to say I wanted to focus on iOS but in practice there are a number of factors that say otherwise.
2D Voxel Madness at Long Last
I’ve been careful not to say that I would never make another game for Xbox Live Indie Games after my last title Hypership Still Out of Control did so poorly, but I have gone on record as saying Fun Infused Games won’t be doing any more of its big titles specifically for the platform. The games I see having the most success (and note there are exceptions to this) seem to be interesting / funny concepts that can be done quickly. And Minecraft clones. And those two ideas are both in play with our latest game 2D Voxel Madness.
Way back in March, as I worked on the level editor for the PC version of Volchaos, I got in a discussion with someone (sorry, I would credit you if I remembered exactly who you were) about whether or not Minecraft was essentially a playable level editor (I said yes). After Volchaos was turned down for release on Steam and with April 1st rapidly approaching and a level editor already far along, I thought it would be a funny idea to take a 3D object (voxel), spin a 2D version of it, and meld it with my existing Volchaos engine. And hence 2D Voxel Madness was born!
The plan was to release the game on April 1 exactly. This gave me about a month and a half of time to get the game ready. I planned out the initial scope and everything felt do-able. But as always happens, for every one item I checked off my todo list, it seemed I added another three. As April Fool’s Day neared, it became clear I would not have this game ready. I should have known this was going to happen as I’ve never once released a game anywhere close to when I initially planned to, but I seem to never learn. I think there is a word for someone that does this... Idiot.
I know some developers that are huge level editor / tool guys. They spend as much or more effort on making tools to make their games. I on the other hand fancy the creative / gameplay / balancing part of game development and find tool development to be a chore more than anything. As the development of 2D Voxel Madness dragged on and on, my motivations to find time for finishing the game lessened. Ultimately as summer arrived and more opportunities to spend my nights out arose, development came to a full halt (Fun Infused Games is primarily a one man show, a man who also happens to hold down a day job so nearly all development is done at the wee hours of night). For the first time in three years, I was not doing actively doing any sort of game development.
The game at this point was pretty far along and while I was anxious to work on new projects, it seemed silly to have months of effort wasted, especially with a game in a genre that has had great sales success on XBLIG (the almighty dollar is sometimes impossible to argue with). So come September, I once again started work on 2D Voxel Madness, though not quite at the fevered pace I was previously working at. I probably would have burnt myself out again had I done that and possibly never finished this game.
It’s been a long road to get 2D Voxel Madness completed, far longer than I ever anticipated it would be. Along the way it really killed my motivations for game development. I cut a lot of ideas I had originally planned for the game in order to cut down the time I had to work on it. This is far from a usual practice on my other games but one that I felt necessary if for nothing other than preserving my sanity. I am excited to say though that the game, minus a few glitches and balancing issues, is essentially ready for release and did end up turning out pretty well. And should gamers really like the game, I will take the time to re-implement many of those items left on the cutting room floor. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got new games to make.