In my last progress report on the “Def mega update“, I teased that I was going to be a doucebag-indie-marketing-guru-wannabe and reveal some of the new features coming to Def piece-wise, spread over several dedicated posts. This is the first of those posts :)
Back when I began designing some of the later levels for the “Def mega update“, I started to feel that I needed something extra to shake things up – I guess it’s inevitable when the initial design was based around ‘minimalism’. I wanted something that would make the levels feel more multi-staged, so that new areas would open up as the level progressed. The solution was to add destructible BARRIERS.
So Def has been out on OUYA for a a little over six months now and it’s been great to get feedback from the people playing it, with a few Let’sPlays and some reviews popping up. But I know not everyone has an OUYA. Fear not ! I’m making progress on the PC / Linux / Mac version. An Android touchscreen version might also eventually appear, but there’s a Unity engine bug that impacts enough devices that means this may or may not happen. Why is it taking so long ? Given that Def is built Unity, many people would expect you can just press the big ol’ “Build” button and get a version for any platform. Well, Unity certainly makes multi-platform builds easier, but things are rarely that straightforward or simple (especially if you attempt to build for Windows 8 Store .. but that’s a whole other story).
Def level 25 work-in-progress, part of the mega-update
This is the rambling postmortem of my Ludum Dare 29 compo entry, Deep Dome. Crossposted on the #LD48 site. Early in the jam I had a bunch of different ideas. This is pretty normal. I liked the theme, so much so that it almost gave me too many options for achievable small games I would have enjoyed making. In the end I went for my ‘fallback idea’ – something I’d wanted to try if I could tweak it to fit the theme: a Descent-like game with visuals similar to Zombie Gunship. What I wanted to achieve was: 1) Set up 6DOF ship controls that felt good. Not necessarily identical to the original Descent, but along those lines. 2) Recreate visuals similar to Zombie Gunship (essentially inverted greyscale, with object highlighting) 3) Incorporate this into a small prototype game, as a sandbox for something bigger.
All image effects applied
I’m happy since I feel like I largely met goals (1) and (2), with some detours, while the gameplay component of (3) isn’t nearly refined enough. Continue reading…
So Google has just announced Android Wear, which will provide some type of ‘official’ support for Android smart watches. This reminded me of something I have wanted to do for a little while … release Wrist Tweets, my Sony LiveView Twitter app, as open source ! Many thanks to everyone who bought the paid version. It didn’t really make much money, but it was fun and rewarding to develop (it covered the cost of buying a Sony LiveView, but not much more). I’ll keep it alive as long as practical with any easy bugfixes, but no promises. If you are one of the handful of people that bought it this year, I’m more than happy to sort out some kind of refund.
Some history: The original Sony LiveView had a very similar purpose to Android Wear devices, and Sony provided their own open source SDK to allow notifications to be pushed to the LiveView ’microdisplay’. The hardware implementation wasn’t all that great though – battery life of the device was poor, it was plagued with Bluetooth connection issues and the design inexplicably didn’t allow charging without removing the band, along with a whole bunch of other usability issues I won’t bore you with. No idea if these were fixed for the “Sony Smartwatch 2” or whatever they called it, since after my experience with the LiveView, I decided to leave smartwatches alone until they matured a little. Hopefully Google and their partner manufacturers get it right with the Moto360 and future Android Wearables …
Valve have been pretty open about the idea of reducing manual curation, eventually killing off Greenlight and opening up access to their distribution platform. Recent comments only confirm it – Gabe says self-publishing on Steam is something they want to allow. There’s always lots of gnashing of teeth when it comes to ‘app stores’, discoverability and quality. Indies want their product to be been seen, purchased and played, customers want to find the stuff they like without wading through the stuff they don’t. Quality varies widely, but it’s not as simple as crap games and good games, since one man’s “Walking Simulator” is another man’s life changing experience. No single service has convincingly cracked the problem of exploiting the “long tail” of video games, efficiently finding the niche for each particular game and accurately getting the right games to the right customers (where in the extreme, some products probably have ‘no right customers’). Here’s one idea of how I see Steam self-publishing working such that Valve can exploit the long tail without losing the trust of their existing customer base: let’s call it Amber-light (“the ghetto”), followed by being Greenlit.