Monday, September 12, 2016

Coming soon to Nintendo 3DS

We've been hard at work this year to bring support for our games and applications to the Nintendo 3DS. The recent support of the 3DS platform by the Unity engine (which we use for targeting most of our other platforms) made this possible.

PixelMaker will be our first release on Nintendo 3DS. It works great on the 3DS handset - using the bottom screen to draw, while having an overview of the entire scene on the upper screen. We even leveraged our drawing layer feature to provide support for the stereoscopic 3D display. The effect is really quite fun, and we are looking forward to see how people use it.

Even though Unity is primarily targeted at the New Nintendo 3DS, we worked hard to make PixelMaker run on the original 3DS as well. This wasn't easy, given the memory and CPU limitations of the original device, but we are very happy with the result we were able to achieve. I believe we will be the first Unity 3DS release to run on the original 3DS.

We plan to bring our voxel editor VoxelMaker, as well as at least some of our games, to the 3DS soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

PixelMaker - a pixel art and sprite drawing program

I've been thinking about making a sprite editor for a while now. Drawing sprites is a big part of what we do when making our games. We have been using GIMP as our primary drawing tool, and while it works pretty well, it doesn't mesh perfectly with our workflow.

So, a few months ago I finally pulled the trigger and started working on PixelMaker. In order to justify making a polished program (instead of a rough-and-ready developer tool), we plan to release it on various platforms - initially on Wii U (the GamePad and stylus are great for drawing) and then later on mobile/PC.

I'm pretty happy with how it is turning out. It loads instantly, unlike programs like Gimp and Photoshop, and is fast and lean - with the features you need for drawing pixel-y stuff, uncluttered by features you don't need (at least *we* think so - we'll see once we have more customers...)

Our initial feature set for release targets drawing individual pixel art pieces, but future planning includes frame-based animation.

On a more dev-centric note, I recently bolted on a project structure interface for us to manage the art assets for a game - designed to integrate with the custom sprite scaling/shadowing/sheet-packing pipeline we currently use:

We plan to get back to working on our already-well-in-progress next game soon, now switching over to using PixelMaker as our core art creation and management tool.

What next game is that? Well, stay tuned for more on that soon!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fractopia - fractal rendering with the GPU on PlayStation Vita

The above video shows Fractopia, my GPU-powered fractal explorer for PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Mobile certified Android devices. Sorry about the poor focus - it's hard to film yourself playing something on the Vita!

I had the idea to try GPU-accelerated fractal rendering on the Vita a while back, but I didn't get around to actually messing with it until a few weeks ago. My initial experiments turned out quite well, so I took the time to make it into a full-fledged application.

As you can see in the video, Fractopia allows smooth panning and zooming of fractal imagery. It allows you to navigate the Mandlebrot and Julia fractals, and lets you change the Julia seed in real time to create a huge variety of interesting "fractalscapes" to explore.

Fractopia has passed PS Mobile certification, so it should come out on PSN in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vacation Vexation - a new "Quiet, Please!" adventure

Vacation Vexation

I've been hard at work recently on a new "Quiet, Please!" adventure. The current likely name is "Vacation Vexation", and it features the same style of gameplay as the original.

Vacation Vexation

This time the setting is a family vacation in a seaside town. You just want to relax on the beach and read a book, but of course circumstances conspire against you...

Vacation Vexation

In addition to the puzzle-solving gameplay, there is an arcade that features playable mini-games:

Vacation Vexation

There are a couple of  knock-offs of arcade classics, and one that people who have played my other games might recognize...

Vacation Vexation

With this new game, I'm going for roughly 2-3 times the amount of content that was in the original "Quiet, Please!". This isn't because "Quiet, Please!" was too short. Some people complained about the length, but most found it worth the dollar and it is my best selling game to date. I want to try to get away from selling games for $.99, though, and that requires more content.

While there are a number of reasons I want to target a higher price point, probably the most important one is that it allows me to put a game on sale. If a game is already at the lowest price point for an app store, you can't put it on sale without making it completely free. Consumers really like "free" as a price point, but from a seller's perspective it has obvious disadvantages...

I figure I'm roughly two thirds of the way through development on "Vacation Vexation". I hope to release it on all of the platforms I support (which is most of them) in the next few months.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ascent of Kings Review Round-up

Some reviews of Ascent of Kings have popped up around the internet over the past week. You can check out what they had to say from the links below:

Chet & Jon
Indie Gamer Chick
CGR Undertow

Friday, February 8, 2013

Working on Playstation Mobile

Playstation Mobile

Yep, that's my game intro screen running on the Vita. I have spent the past couple of days porting my 2D game engine to PlayStation Mobile.

The PSM platform is C# based, so it was a really good match for me. Even though PlayStation Mobile uses MonoDevelop and I use Visual Studio, the two environments are assembly-compatible and I can still do the bulk of my work in Visual Studio and mostly just use MonoDevelop as a means for final deployment.

The hardest part of the process was getting the drawing code working. PSM provides a pretty low-level graphics interface, so it took me a while before I had my first triangle onscreen. When working with a new graphics api, the first triangle is always the hardest. There are a million different reasons (matrix transforms, shader issues, culling, bad vertices, bad indices, etc.) why your triangle won't render. Once you can see something, you can fix what is wrong. When you can't see anything you don't have much to go on.

After getting my first rendering working, the next step was sprite batching. PlayStation Mobile provides a batching implementation, but it is integrated with a higher-level scene interface. That is a great help to people who are doing new game development, but for someone like me who already has a game engine that I'm trying to put on top of PSM it doesn't work. Fortunately, I've written sprite batching systems before, so it wasn't too much of an obstacle.

Then it was off to the races. Input was easy. I've already integrated with multiple touch systems, so PSM touch input went in smoothly. I haven't done buttons/thumbsticks yet, but I don't anticipate too much of a challenge. Sound was easy - the PSM audio interface is clean and exactly what you look for.

I started working with PSM yesterday, and I had my first game (my ubiquitous test game "Sokoban for Beginners") running in the simulator this afternoon. With that validation, I pulled the trigger on a PlayStation Mobile publishing license. After a few hours and a bit of messing about with publishing and application keys, I had a game running perfectly on my Vita.

Look for some "Ascent of Kings", "Quiet, Please!", "Kung Fu FIGHT!" - and just maybe a bit of "Tunescape" and more speculatively some "Block Zombies" on a PlayStation Mobile device near you.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ascent of Kings Update

Quiet Christmas

"Ascent of Kings", the game I made for Ludum Dare #20, is now back on the top of my development stack. I've been making great progress and have added a bunch of new content. I'm hoping to finish things up over the next couple of weeks.

Since I snubbed the Xbox with "Quiet Christmas" (I ran out of time before the holiday) my current plan is to release Ascent there first, with mobile versions soon thereafter.