Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roswell Project : No Tears, but smearing involved !

It's funny what a few days can make, crazy ones at that ! But at least there is some good news at the end of it. For Roswell Project is pretty much complete, there might be something to tinker here and there, but it's done.

As you may also notice in the photo, what I believed at the time to be Screen Tearing at the time, is no longer present. After a bug report to YoYo Games and further investigation, an answer was later found, it was in fact a Tile issue ! Seamless Tile Scaling, which is wonderfully explained in an article by Mike Dailly.

So what did I do ? Well, I basically followed the Seamless Tile Scaling article and adjusted all of the tiles with 32 x 32 dimensions. Each tile had a two pixel smear on it with a one pixel gap between each tile in Paint Shop Pro 8. This process took me around two hours !

A horizontal and vertical offset of 3 was applied, then a horizontal and vertical seperation of 5 in GameMaker:Studio. This process was easy, as it is just setting. Now came the tedious task of re-applying all of the tiles onto the three levels maps and a couple of single screens. The levels took the longest, about two hours per level map. All placed by hand with no fancy programs ! Luckily, I had the GameMaker 8.x Roswell Project version at hand and I could visually place each tile into position. The whole process doesn't seem to be necessary for Windows, but more so with regards to this project in Android. This is what I found for this project, others may differ.

With everything in place, the game plays well and I am pretty happy with the port from Windows to Android. The actual game engine was there, which has saved a lot of time. Just leaving some subtle changes with more apparent visual ones, like the buttons and on screen controls. What I do like about GameMaker:Studio is, you can design a game / project and export it to different platforms. Roswell Project currently runs on both Android and Windows. With a couple of lines of code, you can make routines kick in when a different platform is detected. For example, the on screen controls. They don't appear in Windows, but do on Android. Genius !

Roswell Project should be available on Google Play Store for *FREE* on Android over the next couple of days, so keep an eye out for it.

This has been an interesting project and didn't really take that long to do. I can see more ports being done, but what will be next ?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Roswell Project : The Android port so far ...

The Android port of Roswell Project has started and with a few hours here and there over the last week, a fair amount of progress has been made. I ran into a few problems during an import of the GameMaker 8.1 project into GameMaker:Studio, to be honest, there is a warning that some functions may not work as expected. So there will be in most cases, a need for changes in the way the project works.

The Title Screen differs from the original version ...

The original screen size was 768x512 with the updated Android version at 800x480. In this instance, it was just a case adding a couple of extra map tiles on some screens. There is a difference with the font as well, as of GameMaker 8.x and above, bitmap fonts are no longer supported, so on all future projects, true-type fonts are the way to go. For an app or game that is considered free, most fonts don't require permission in being used. However, you may need to ask permission to use certain fonts for commercial purposes. Some font creators only require credit for use of their fonts, so it is good to research this. I purchased a 10,000 fonts pack for $19.95 which has enough to tide me over, plus they can be used for free and commerical purposes. In most cases I mention the font name and author whenever possible. The menu buttons are an addition, which makes the game a little more interactive and interesting. I really like the way they blend in and the slight drop shadow with the text, makes it stand out more.

Some ingame differences from the original version ...

The main difference with the ingame setup, is the scores, lives and collected so far positions with a difference in fonts as well. The game engine itself, hasn't changed much from the original PC version, apart from the extra variable call routines where needed.

Now, for some reason, the intermediate, title and ingame screens have tearing on a Samsung Galaxy Tab2 with 7" screen. Although, this doesn't happen when being tested on the Samsung Galaxy S2.

I am not sure if it is a hardware issue or related to GameMaker:Studio. The screens and map areas aren't overly big. Apart from this the game play pretty well, even if running it on phone or smaller device has a somewhat tiny gaming experience.

The above video gives a taster of what the Android version of Roswell Project offers with the screen tearing making an appearance as well. I expect this issue to be resolved, even if it takes a while to be done.

The credits screen now appears on the title screen, when the credits button is selected. To unselect the credits, you simply tap on the semi-transparent box. I am planning to have all the buttons with the select feature, turning black when selected and white when not.

This game and others from now on, will have high score loading and saving, plus level progress saved. So, when you leave the game, you'll be able to catch up from where you left off. Although, Roswell Project has larger levels, it is still a good option to have. Did I tell you there are mini-games included ? Yes ! Three to be exact, one for each level. Level one has Alien Breakout, level two has Dead Pixel Invaders ( where the full game originated ) and Shapes Capture ( where Shapes Mindorama was adapted from ). Why not check out the PC version of Roswell Project ?

Time to crack on with some more x and y coordinate adjustments !

Friday, September 14, 2012

I am alive and still making games !

Prior to my last post - " An App for a Candy Bar ", it hs been over a year since I last wrote a post. I don't think this was any form of abandonment, it was more of a case of other things getting in the way and time. So, I expect to write a post at least once a month, for there has been a lot of nice game making things been going on over the last 12 months.

According to my first post - " Present and Past - Let's Start with Shapes ! ", I gave an introduction on where I started with game design and what my current project was at the time. Well, Shapes Mindorama has been completed and is currently available on Android via the Google Play Store. It was released on June 5th 2012 and is available in a Lite and Paid version. I am currently working on some extra levels, which will be released soon and I expect them to be ready before the end of the year. I will keep you posted !

I am very pleased with the effort put into the game, even though the use of some variable routines drove me mad at times. For without them, like any game, nothing would work properly and would be totally boring. But this wasn't the only game I managed to complete, we also have Dead Pixel Invaders, also available in a Lite and Paid version, plus four other *FREE* games, all on Android.

The first *FREE* fully featured game I released on Android ( yep ! it's all about Android here ! ) was Office Worker. This is a port from a GameMaker 7 project which took a bit of tweaking here and there, but has turned out pretty well considering it's a simple platformer with a cool sound effects and music.

There isn't too much to worry about operationwise with the game, just 'TAP' to start and collect the objects needed for each level. You do have the option to have a choice between sound effects and music on the title screen. So, that's about it !

Now, the remaining games are just mini-games, for a few minutes fun when you have the time. Fartoids, is based on Asteroids, but with a more fun element, where the main player is propelled by natural gases produced by the body with the capability of shooting Peas at rather large Sprouts. You could almost class this as a sort of a hommage to a festive meal with masses of the lovely green vegetables or perhaps not ?

Now that you have built up the momentum from reading about Fartoids, I will move on to the next game. There was a clue in the previous sentence, a sort of link as well. For the next game is called UP and the aim of this game is to 'TAP' the retro gaming object at it's base keeping up the momentum, whilst trying to avoid it colliding with the moving bars above and below within 15 seconds.

UP was designed for the Retro Computer Museum in Coalville, Leicestershire in the United Kingdom. It was done as a fun project and I hope to expand on it in the future.

Notice the Competition Pro Joystick ? I took a photo of that and used Photoshop to cut the background. Once imported into GameMaker, I put a nice blueish glow around it. All of the retro gaming objects have this effect. It all makes into a good, simple little game !

We now Bump into the last, but not last really. Yes ! Another tenious link to the following game, again another game for a spare moment, but you have 60 seconds in this one, more of a survival mission in this instance.

The aim of the game here, is to collect the orange and lemon orbs without colliding with the rotating bombs that seem to just float around in space. Bump was designed for Retrovision in Oxford, United Kingdom and just like UP for the Retro Computer Museum, it was done for fun and a dedication more really to the fun times and company that is shared with the guys that run hosted events.

The game is quite simple to control, just move the green coloured face of 'Markie', a known legend of Retrovision to collect the orbs. Those 60 seconds seem like an eternity whilst playing and I can only seem to last with 10 seconds to spare before one of those blasted bombs get me.

As you can see, I have been pretty much active, even though the blog has shown nothing but silence over the past 12 months. Apart, from being a little bit busy, a few personal things have happened to me, as in, the return of the darkness, not so much a game, but depression. I am not ashamed to mention this, as it affects many people and in different ways. However, a few months ago, I was also diagnosed with an under-active Thyroid and borderline Type 2 Diabetes. This is a bit of a big hit really, at times it has been a bit too much to take in. But with help, advice, medication and some dietry changes, I expect myself to maintain a normal standard of life. Well, as normal as you can get.

So, we move on and what have I got planned next ? I would like to do a couple of ports to Android of a couple of my PC games, Roswell Project and possibly Phantom Millennium ? Maybe a few more, I think a reworking of Coin Mania Remix would work well, but we'll have to see if time permits. There is a secret remake I am hoping to do and a newer project, but I'll keep it under my hat for the time being. You will all find out soon !

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An App for a Candy Bar !

The best things in life are *FREE* ! It is always nice to get something for nothing every now and again, it perks you up and makes you feel good all over. However, it's also nice to buy things as well, whether they be expensive or affordable. Suiting each to persons own budget and taste of course.
So, would you buy an App or Game for a Mobile device or a Candy Bar ( Mmm ... Chocolate ) ? Good question eh ? On both the Apple and Android mobile platforms there are simply thousands, upon thousands of Apps available to download and buy, at any time of the day, all across the world. We are simply spoilt for choice with genres, for both Apps and Games. Prices start from *FREE* up to one of the most expensive ones that I have seen on the Apple App Store, the TomTom Europe Sat Nav priced at £79.99 for the iPad. In all fairness, you are paying for a well known product, that needed a lot of research and development which isn't too disimilar to the original hardware that you might have in your car. But what's stopping you using Google Maps for example ? Although the feel isn't the same, the practicality is, plus it is *FREE* ! We use and buy what Apps we want, regardless of the price.

At this point I would like to bring up the name, 'Angry Birds' by Rovio. This is a massively popular game with all the franchise that comes with it. Even if you are simply spitting feathers and screaming obscenities out loud, whilst trying to hold back the emotional tears of jealousy and perhaps a bit of anger or maybe perhaps not ? It has been a lucky break for Rovio really and I can't believe how far the game has come. Although, it does have a rather nice polished look and feel, it has marvelled in physics, a sure winner. The game and all of its series, is available on almost every platform, even this bizarre attempt on the Sega Genesis, as demonstrated via YouTube.

So, where are we at now ? Why do we download *FREE* games ? Because we want to of course, its a matter of choice and personal preference. But we also, do, buy Apps and we are spoilt for choice, in fact there is a saturation of choice. The developers of this gaming world are in and do face a lot of competition. Over 25 years ago, during the 8-bit gaming years, even then, there were games and prices for every budget between £1.99-£14.99 as I recall, were games that I would buy and would mostly be in this price range. The gameplay did run from good to bad, on certain games, regardless of the price.

I have been recently fortunate enough to be able to produce games for mobile devices, more so on the Android platform using GameMaker:Studio by YoYo Games. This has been a good experience with regards to creating and submitting them to Google Play Store and see how they fair amongst thousands of other Apps and games available. Without a lot of advertising, it has been rather quiet or a little static. Is it the style and look of each game, I first thought ? Did I set the price for each game adequately or are they just not good enough ? What I have noticed is, all the *FREE* games are being downloaded, if not in massive amounts. The current two paid for games are still, still as in, not moving or shifting much. I wonder if the same were to happen on the Apple platform ? I do think however, that additional advertising and more word of mouth may inject some form of interest to most.

I do believe that in playing games for over 25 years, gameplay is one of the most important factors, regardless of its looks or price. Every game has a set look or style, you could have an expensive game that cost hundreds of thousands to produce with high end graphics, only to fall flat with poor gameplay. Then you might have a lower end budget game, that simply wins on gameplay alone.

All of this leads us up to independent developers, who deserve more credit. The competition can be quite fierce out there. The quantity and quality are equaled and by far better in most respects to the big gun software developers. Just because you choose or are an 'indie', it doesn't mean you are or will produce inferior or poor quality games.

It isn't that much of a difficult choice between an App or a Candy Bar, you maybe hungry, the price is near enough the same and for 50 pence, 50 cents or maybe 99. You are contributing towards the support of current and the future production of Apps and games. Free is good, but without adverts to pay the way or financial support, there may well be a decline in what we love most ... games !