Archive for Goals and Deadlines

One Game A Month January Entry: Dragon Canyon

January 2014 One Game A Month Entry: Dragon CanyonAs we posted on our new year resolution post, we are trying again for the One Game A Month challenge this year. We had made an attempt to do so last year, but only managed to get through February. But even those games were not ones that we actually worked on that year.

This year, we are actually going to go for it. As such, we have finished our first game for the year, Dragon Canyon. Dragon Canyon is a game in so much as there is gameplay, a scoring mechanism and an end condition. It isn’t a complete game in that it is missing a few things.

Before I get into all that, I wanted to explain the history of this game. It kind of fits into the mold of my previous entries into One Game A Month. Both of those were dragon themed and fairly simple. Dragon Canyon is kind of a successor to Dragon Fire in many respects. It is a shooter and you play as a dragon shooting various flying monsters. But it is very different from it too.

For one, Dragon Canyon allows the player to choose which dragon they want to play. Each dragon has its own projectile as well. With Dragon Fire, the player was given a dragon at random and all dragons fired the same thing.

Additionally, Dragon Fire restricted the player to only left and right movement. The player was unable to travel vertically. This has changed with Dragon Canyon. Along these same lines, rather than a top to bottom shooter, Dragon Canyon is a bottom up shooter.

Finally, the enemy behavior is greatly altered. With Dragon Fire, all enemies appeared at the bottom and flew straight up. In Dragon Canyon, I wanted to add variety to the enemies, not just in looks but in how they act. So I have some very basic enemy behaviors in the game. There are four enemy types and each behaves slightly differently.

I would like to expand on this game in the future. I love to play shooters like this from time to time and it could be a lot of fun when improved. I had originally started the game idea as a test for Ouya development. So the goal is to add controller support as well as play for up to four players. I would also consider increasing the screen resolution to allow for full use of HD televisions.

I also need to add a lot more variety to enemies and their behaviors. As of right now, there are no enemies that shoot back and that is something that needs to change. There are also a lot more movement patterns to experiment with.

I also want to further differentiate the player dragons. While it is great that they look different and have different projectiles, I would love to add special moves that are unique to each dragon.

The background is something else that really needs to improve. I want to add a scrolling background to the game as well as different stages with their own enemies. Each stage could be themed around the different dragons.

Outside of all that, the other improvements to the game would include sound and music, pixel perfect collision detection and player health and lives.

Overall, it isn’t that bad of a prototype to be used as my January entry into One Game A Month. I look forward to working on my February entry.

A Look Back At 2013 And A Look Forward To A Game Filled 2014

Happy New Year From Divine Knight GamingYears come and go. Game ideas come and go. But one thing is for certain, there is no time like the present.

This past year brought with it a lot of challenges and a lot of surprises. We entered the year 2013 with the idea that this would be the year that we completed Demon’s Hex and began looking forward to developing new games. We had hoped to take advantage of the One Game A Month Challenge to help spur that forward.

Sadly, that didn’t happen.

However, it is not all bad news. We entered 2013 with Demon’s Hex as merely a concept with visuals. It had no gameplay at all. But with some great motivation from local game developers, we were able to bring Demon’s Hex to a fairly playable state. You can actually play battles in the game and it is pretty fun. While the full game proper is not at all near complete, this makes a major milestone for us as developers.

With that success under our belt, we look forward to taking on the challenge of making Demon’s Hex fully playable. Everything will be done.

We also have a number of other games we want to start making. This year, we really want to achieve that One Game A Month challenge. It is a noble goal and one that we could easily do. We just need to sit down and do it. Just one weekend a month would get that done. Just some private game jams to get them done and out. They don’t have to be flashy or big, just done. That is all that matters. Completing the game.

That seems to be the gist of our New Year’s resolutions. We just want to complete some games.

With our technology pipeline pretty solidified this past year, that will make it far easier to complete. Now that I have my bearings inside HaxeFlixel, I can easily complete this challenge with the help of Willis. Together we can do it.

I can’t make any promises on what types of games we will create along side Demon’s Hex. I can just promise that we will try to do something different each time. While it would be easy to fall back on the same mechanics and genre’s it wouldn’t expand our minds nor foster creativity.

We were glad to make the strides we made in 2013 and look forward to making further strides in 2014. We hope that 2014 is the year that we make a name for ourselves.

With that, we wish you a happy new year.

Ouya’s New Free The Games Fund Rules

The Ouya $1Million Free The Games FundNot long after posting my article on selling an Ouya exclusive Kickstarter, Ouya changed all the rules on me. It was a very good thing too. Now, pretty much all the thought and planning that went into pulling off a successful $50k Kickstarter has been rendered useless, for the better.

The big changes are to the minimum funds needed to be raised and the exclusivity of the game. No longer will I need to try to raise $50k to get matching funds; I can now raise anything over $10k. This is a great thing as it will allow me the comfort of focusing on a smaller game project. Something I think can be more doable than a full $50k project.

With the change in exclusivity, I no longer need to worry about convincing PC backers to wait an extra 6 months. They can get the game right alongside the Ouya backers. The only people who need to wait are other microconsoles and mobile users. Not really a big deal there. Even then, they only need to wait 1 month times the number of $10k chunks that Ouya backs up to 6 months.

So what does this mean for Divine Knight Gaming? Well, it means two things.

The first is that it means that we have a far better chance of getting matching funds for any project we might do. The lower barrier will help us put together a project we feel good about and feel would be able to reach at least $10k.

The second is that we will have a lot more competition. With that lower barrier, a lot more game projects will be vying for a chunk of the pie. So by the time we are ready to introduce our Kickstarter, we may be gunning for a much smaller chunk of the pie than we initially expected. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Frankly, I am more excited about the Free the Games Fund now than I was two weeks ago. It feels more doable and open to me now. I am still not sure how I want to approach it just yet, but I certainly want to try hard at getting a game prototype or two out there to see what feels right. We will just have to wait and see.

Rebuilding Demon’s Hex In Haxe And Achieving Goals

The new year brought with it a change in technology. We had been working on building our games for Flash using Actionscript 3 and Flixel. That is a very powerful pair of techologies to work with, if you want to target the web almost exclusively. However, our goals are to eventually target desktop environments as well as mobile phones. While it is possible to work with Actionscript to target those environments, it would require us to use something like Adobe Air. However, that technology is not particularly liked nor does it have continued support for Linux. So we needed a change.

Lucky for us, some awesome game developers ported Flixel to a very Actionscript like language called Haxe. HaxeFlixel has made it possible for us to fairly easily port our existing code, which honestly wasn’t a whole lot, and get ready to target all the technologies that Haxe targets.

HaxeFlixel About Diagram And Target PlatformsBy using HaxeFlixel, we will be able to create the types of games we want to make and bring those games to the web, desktops and mobile devicess.

This brings me to� our goals. Development has been slow, very slow, too slow. This is primarily because I work full time and have a family so the time I get to work on the game is not a lot. With all that in mind, Willis and I got together to lay out some realistic prospects for what I can do. I have broken out my tasks into monthly goals and plan on working them. Here they are for you:

  • February
    • Finalize the Haxe Project for Demon’s Hex
    • Set up the Title Screen
    • Set up the initial Map Screen
  • March
    • Get the Tokens Figured Out
    • Get the Inventory Screen Working
  • April
    • Get Battles Working
    • Create the AI
  • May
    • Create Story Elements and Progression

I have completed February’s goals and look forward to tackling March’s. I already have some great ideas on how to tackle some of the problems I had been facing previously when it comes to the tokens. A lot of that will be done outside of Haxe, though, as I will be creating some game tools for us to use.

As for Willis, his portion of Demon’s Hex is mostly completed and at this point he is working on things for it on an as needed basis. So he will be working on expanding his craft and learning to better utilize some tools that we plan to use on our next game. A lot of this is animation. I look forward to seeing what he does in that regard and plan to show them off when I can.

 

2013 Resolution: Create One Game A Month For Twelve Months

I don’t know if any of you guys have heard about the latest craze hitting the indie game dev community. It is this idea of creating one game a month for 12 months. That is, by the end of the year, anyone participating should have 12 games done. It all started with a blog post by one Christer Kaitila, aka McFunkypants, in which he described his effort to make one complete game each month in the year 2012. This article sparked a lot of interest from fellow game developers and ended up becoming a thing. It is also a full blown website as well. Complete with a full slate of gamification to help prod developers along.

Needless to say, this has sparked something within me and I am planning to rope my brother into helping me do this. As you know, We are still working on Demon’s Hex. It is not as done as it should be and I feel ashamed. So hopefully, this will help. I am not sure if I can complete it all by the end of January, so I may split my time between it and another game for the first couple of months. It all depends on how far I get in the first couple of weeks. So yes, Demon’s Hex is my first effort, but my be pushed for full completion a little later, while smaller games fulfil my challenges.

The idea of completing 12 full games is kind of daunting. However, the goal is to just get in the habit of taking something from concept to completion quickly and simply. That means no filler, just meat. Take a simple concept and run with it. You will be surprised what can be done. Take a look at some of the current submissions for the project. For example, McFunkypants’ first submission is a clever use of A* pathfinding. Placing barriers in the way of the two AI characters is the primary goal. Simple concept and a number of maps to fill it out. That is all that is required. Can the games be bigger fare? Sure if you have time to work full time. However, for me, it will probably be something smaller. Not like Dragon Punch or Dragon Fire small, but something in between that and Demon’s Hex.

For example, I have had one game idea floating around in my skull for several years. This is a politically themed editorial game all about raising awareness for Oklahoma’s horrid ballot access laws. The object of the game would be to collect  enough signatures to gain recognized political party status in the state. With a new legislative session coming in and signature requirements at a high point following the Presidential Election, now would be a good time to get people aware so that they can pressure the state legislature to pass reform. I would just need to come up with a clever gameplay mechanic to not only demonstrate the trouble new parties face, but also frustrate the player.

Other game ideas are a more fleshed out Dragon Fire that turns it into a full fledge vertical shooter. Or a board game inspired on the Lego Heroica games I got for Christmas. Who knows where the year will take me. Perhaps within all these games we will find our first mega hit that gets us working full time for ourselves.

Regardless of what happens, the primary goal is to build a games portfolio for us to show off as we expand our company and seek funding from outside sources. So cheer us on and follow our progress over at my One Game a Month profile page.

Deadlines, Goals and Kicks In The Pants

Something missing from our game development project so far has been a strict deadline for completion. That is one of the downfalls of many a game project. If you don’t have a strong goal or deadline that you hold yourself to, you will make every excuse to push completion out into the ether. So recently, Willis and I have made the decision to give ourselves a deadline. More of a goal really.

Coming up later this year is Indiecade. This little award show has a lot to offer a small development project like ours. We have ambitious goals and lofty expectations for the work we are doing and getting into that show will help us meet those goals. So we have decided to enter our game. One of the perks of entering the contest is that the game does not have to be complete to enter, so we are feeling confident about what we can do.

So here is the plan. Games must be submitted to the contest by May 1st if we are to be considered on time. So that is our primary target goal. What we want to have completed by then is the primary gameplay portion. This will include a rudimentary player stats and inventory system, a viewable map of the game world and most important of all, the battle system. We are not planning on having the full battle system available for play by then, but we will have something that resembles the final battle system. All of this will need to be completed by April 14th. That gives us a 2 week buffer zone for finishing up a few things.

Now, if we get more done than we have planned, that will be awesome, but that is the main focus. We want to have what is really a prototype of the game at the least and an alpha at the best. Once we get that part completed and the game submitted, we will be able to focus more on improving the game and adding more features.

Next, Indiecade takes place from October 4th to the 7th and we want to attend. By that time we want to have a functioning beta version of the game available to be played by those in attendance as well as people at home. The game will be available online as soon as we submit the game to Indiecade and all updates from then on will be available as well.

This contest is something that we have needed for a long time. This is giving the both of us, and me specifically, the kick in the pants to get the game done. It gives us a visible date and a goal to reach. We have made this decision and we are sticking to it.

So the goals and dates again for you:

  • April 14th – playable alpha build of the game
  • October 1st – playable beta of the game

Some time around the April deadline, we will be making our official game announcement. This will include all the cool info you have been so desperately wanting. During the time between those two dates, we will be implementing some payment systems so that people who play the alpha and beta versions will be able to help support us in the development stage. We will also be considering other funding sources as the need arises.

So there you have it. That is our plan and we are sticking to it. Wish us luck.

And because I like you guys, here are some more arty things to enjoy:

Business Planning and Other Affairs

This past Saturday, we attended the second half of a small business workshop focused on developing a good business plan. While this is all bureaucratic in nature, we felt it is a necessary step in getting our games going. We found a few things, we felt were really important:

  1. It requires us to figure out what our goals are as a company. What we want to focus on in the short term and long term.
  2. It forced us to really analyse the market for the games we are developing.
  3. It made us really look at what our competitors are doing and what they do well and what they are doing poorly.
  4. It made us look closer at the financial side of things.

So let’s look at some of these in stride.

Our goals as a company are to make games that we would want to play. Not only that, we want them to be games that we would want to play with our families or let our kids play on their own. Willis and I both have kids, My oldest is nearing 7 and I would love for him to be able to play these games with me. Some of our games may be a bit over younger kids’ heads, but we feel they should not have to leave the room when their parents or older siblings play.

We also want to dedicate time and resources in developing and releasing games that are not full of game breaking bugs. Our first games will be browser based games playable from Facebook and other game portals. It has become common practice in Facebook game development to slap the word “beta” on the title of the game and release it full of bugs and glitches that often break the game or are exploitable. We want to avoid this. We want to be confident that what we are releasing is something we feel comfortable labeling “Gold Master.”

We also got to look hard at some of our competitors in the web based gaming scene. We feel our closest competitors to our first two games are Zynga’s Warstorm and Feerik’s Eredan. Both of these games are online collectible card games. They are drastically different in both gameplay and art direction but are both fairly fun to play. We have been analysing these games over the last few months (yes that means we got to play games) and have been looking at what they do well, both from gameplay and monetisation using free to play methods) and what they do not do well. Neither game seems to have regular updates or promotions that I have seen. Warstorm seems to be focused on retain their dwindling user base and Eredan seems to be content sitting where it is. We look forward to competing with them and hopefully spur them to innovate and expand to reach new audiences. After all, nothing is less fun in competing against someone who does not want to compete.

Finally, in regards to financials, we are looking to start up with relative low over head. Nothing wrong with that. We are both working full time elsewhere and are wanting to move into working for ourselves full time in the near future. So we really need to understand what it would take to build up our company to reach that point.

All in all, this business plan is important to us to keep us focused, but it is also important for other reasons, which I am not going to go into just yet. Suffice it to say, we are working on something that requires us to have a business plan as well as a game design and prototype. We will keep you informed as we learn more.

New Year Resolutions

Divine Knight Gaming LogoHere at Divine Knight gaming, we want to bring quality gaming to everyone. This year we are committed to that cause. We have decided to release some resolutions for the coming year.

We resolve to complete and release two games this year.

You have already seen a teaser for one of our games. The other we have not released any information.

Over the course of the next year, we will be releasing more information on both of these games. You can expect to see more teasers for the teased game in the coming weeks and some teasers and information for our other game about the middle of the year.

We are committed to our cause and will work extra hard to make both games at the quality you can come to expect from us in the future.

Please keep tuned in.

Oh and expect a redesign of our current site theme. It needs a bit of a refresh.