Saturday, January 4, 2020

Number+ 1.4 - statistics

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Number+ is an addictive single player puzzle game you can play on your smartphone right now for free! Go to google play now!



I've published a free update for Number+ on google play with a some fixes and a new screen about statistics.

Let me know what do you think about this update!



Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Din's legacy

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Not everyone knows Soldak ( we talked before about here and here, many years ago!), so brief introduction is needed.

Soldak make unique videogames, in every sense. They are indie, top down real time games with a strong focus on provide unique experiences, evolving and dynamic worlds.

So it's not a surprise if I talk on my blog about last work, Din's legacy.

Ten year after.. forests! And dead monsters too!

At first sight, nothing changed, but if you try Din's legacy free demo ( a free demo!! in 2019!! no drm, always online, pay for win!! You are my hero on this!) you will find a lot changed.

Trust me. New zoom levels, new resolutions, new models, no more a flat world, but hills and caves. A world more.. real. I don't want to say this is a graphic AAA title, sure not. But Soldak's work on graphic side is real.. and solid. I think that we ( as hobby developers indie .. whatever I can call me these days) we can learn from Soldak's approach: iterate every title, evolve, mutate and become a little better every time.

Game loop is the same, something we can understand quickly. You are the "hero" try to save the world solving quests, like every other game like this ( diablo anyone ? ). Start from a village, get quests, explore the world and solve them. Usually slaying monsters is primary choice, but you can work with your skills and try different tactics: be a powerful mage from distance? Check. Be a warrior slaying monsters with an axe? Check.

After a bit, something on Din's legacy gameplay change. You start noticing something: skills, okay, right. You kill monsters, get experience, raise stats and then.. unlock skills. But Din's legacy main feature are mutating skills.

A really dark dungeon, full of dead bodies, of course!

I've said selling point about Soldak's games are evolving dynamic worlds. But now even player avatar in the game is evolving. You get mutation points, then unlock new skills ( good or bad ) and this is always changing!

Personally I don't like this choice, in the past ( Depths of Peril or Din's Curse for example ) player choices are consistent. You unlock a skill and you can work on it. In Din's legacy this can change an players, used to a growing characters, can be overwhelmed!

just throwing old but good fireball around

As you can see from this quick review, I'm not an expert of Din's legacy, but I found it interesting: it's an iteration on Soldak's formula, something not so distant from what you have played in the past, but refreshing in some ways for sure.

But if you are bored to play always same game ( fps, strategy, diablo clone), try soldak games, you can find something new, and challenging!


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Number+ 1.3 - balance & pause

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Number+ is an addictive single player puzzle game you can play on your smartphone right now for free! Go to google play now!



I've published a free update for Number+ on google play with a some game balances and a new feature: pause!

This is a small update, but like others my idea is to follow player's requests in particular:

  • balance: bonuses now more hard to obtain, every 500 points
  • pause: if you close the app, game state is restored at next start

Let me know what do you think about this update!



Saturday, July 6, 2019

Number+ 1.2 - bonuses

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Number+ is an addictive single player puzzle game you can play on your smartphone right now for free! Go to google play now!



I've published a free update for Number+ on google play with a new requested addition: bonuses!

Idea behind this is to expand player experience without altering game's mechanics (for more info on this, see here). Player now at every 200 points will earn a random bonus from a pool of three types:

- down: decrease all tiles by one
- up: increase all tiles by one
- shuffle: randomly arrange tiles position on the board

So Number+ is not changed at his core, it's always the same game, but will be expanded for players that like it.. because bonuses are permanent (with maximum of 9 for every category) between runs.

So far tests shows players like this, especially who play more than one game!

I've also setup a page on itch.io for Number+



Thursday, June 20, 2019

Into hobbyst game development time planning and execution

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Following release of Number+, I want to highlight some lessons learned and a new approach, tested on ground from myself that worked just fine.


About Number+



Main idea for this project was to build a turn based puzzle game, for mobile because some friends asked me to do it, so here we are!
I've done another mobile game for Android in the past (Catch the cat), but if that game was an experiment, my aim here is to build, test and deploy on google play store a free game, from beginning to the end.

Inspiration


I've been struggling on this point for some years now. At start game development (and programming in general) is overwheling. You try, something on screen is moving: so cool! But after a while (for me, but after a while some other people too I know personally and from internet), programming could be frustrating.
You can do basically everything.. so you can do nothing?
I think that is a path everyone has to follow: be overwhelmed, find a way, go over a struggle and grow as developer and more important as human being.

It's a path connected (and it's weird from my eyes!) to Diffusion of Innovations:



  1. a lot of expectations. I know how to program a videogame, cool! I can do next triple-A title or maybe an MMORPG!
  2. well.. this require a lot of time.. maybe I have to scale down my expectation a bit..
  3. okay.. I'm lost, why I've started this (my answer here) anyway ?
  4. So what to do ? Start a new project or go and watch a tv series ?

Realize this about inspiration could lead on more toughts: why I'm doing this, why wasting time, again ?


Design, scope and focus


One important lesson learned over years is to narrow scope and focus on what really is important to do.

For the concept I've started from awesome Card+1 made by Citron Curieux, ad worked backwards. Like I've said for Infiltration, I've put some effort on prior design and thinking before rushing to keyboard and programming. For this I'm adapting some concept learned from an awesome book Designing Games: a guide to engineering experience, from Tynan Sylvester.

In particular I've started with a simple paper&pen approach: draw a small sketch for the game, then list all mechanics in the game. This is an important step: just write them down, in any order, even small details.

After this first step, just organize them in a tree, where at root there is most important (and first thing to do!) mechanics: display all board's tiles.

After this is simple to add them one after one, to build a guide for development.


Click so see details, in gray optionals mechanics


Another key point is also to stay in focus: highlight mechanics that are core, ones without them there is no game. An example is when player touch the board: could game played without this ? No of course! But you can admit for example that use colors for different numbers is something less important, so not in the core list.

I think that this lessons highlighted from Tynan in his books (adapted of cource from project management, feature prioritization and planning!) MUST be followed and understood from any game developer, in particular hobbist or people that do something in spare time. If your time is limited, why waste it in small things that are not part of the core experience?


Handle feedback and stay focused (again)



My players are awesome: so many reviews, plays and more in general feedback on email, whatsup etc.. Stay organized here is the most important thing.

My solution here is to create a simple spreadsheet and record every interaction with all of my players,  after release 1.0.
This leads on two important conclusions:

  1. players like the game
  2. some players need a tutorial

 So instead of rushing and add new mechanics is simply stayed still an fix some bugs and add tutorial. This open up a new consideration: have a plan, but listen to people use your game or product!

A crucial lesson to learn as first as possible, if you want another people beside you use your game!


Conclusions


If you don't have too much time, but you want to do something, remember these things:

  • seek for inspiration, but don't waste too much time: act!
  • define a scope: limited is better
  • design your experience mechanics/features: don't overthink! Write them down, don't dream.
  • prioritize: use a tree as we seen to find a roadmap to follow
  • ask feedback and listen: listen, don't do your thing only
  • iterate and know when to stop: you decided scope, right ?