Big Milestone

by midge 3. November 2014 03:13

So the other day I was pretty good. I finished up that level I had been working on, and I created an additional. This placed me at 10 out of 12 levels. I didn't really feel like working on a level today, so I did something I was kind of saving as dessert - I renewed my ios dev account and tried putting the game on an actual test device.

This had been a little bit of a pain in the ass when I did it for work a couple of years ago. It was far easier this time. I think I learned a little bit from the previous experience, but I also think they streamlined the tools a lot. You could just start trying things and the UI would be much more helpful, like oh I see you don't have this, would you like to get that? Sort of thing.

So I now have my crappy little game on my phone!!!

Some quick observations - playing with your right thumb obscures the screen a little bit, you can't see what's coming. People will probably want to touch the bottom of the screen if they are playing right handed. I could compress the screen and just give some dead space on the right they could use as a button so that they can still use that area and not feel like they're handicapping themselves by not being able to see whats coming. Or... hell I could allow them to invert the game to travel in the other direction. That would actually be pretty easy.

I think the controls are actually EASIER on the phone. The touch screen is just so responsive and easy to do a quick tap with, that it seems simpler than the button on my mac air. One consequence of this... I will probably need more levels. I think people will smoke through these 12 faster than I expected. I could probably make some of the dummy starter levels about 2x as long in no time. There's nothing to them.

Also... really weird bug where if you touch in the middle bottom of the screen, the copter seems to dive. I don't know what that's about yet.

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I've made 10 levels

by midge 1. November 2014 23:00

I swapped the order of flappyCopters2 and the new one windingNarrows because flappyCopters2 is still more difficult. They are, however the same length.

windingNarrows isn't the most inspired level I've done, but hell... Just gotta get it done. 10/12 for levels. Getting there.

I think I've sapped all of my will to work on this thing today.

I've been thinking about doing the work to renew my dev account and get this game on actual test devices. That might make it fun, because then I can start showing people on my phone.

Even if I only manage 2 levels this upcoming week, I'll still be done with levels in a week. That's not too bad. Then it's back to dev. I can't quite say just adding polish, but most of the major development will be done. I've underestimated this thing consistently, so I don't want to make any predictions, but after finishing the levels, I'll be in a pretty damned good place for the game. 

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I finally beat level 9

by midge 1. November 2014 21:23

Before I started trying a quickly looked at the level in the level editor and made it a little easier at a few key points later in the level.

After several/many (who's counting?) attempts I beat it. So it is possible. I may add some developer cheats so I can configure to start at different way-points so play testing is easier.

I want to do more work on the game tonight, but I don't know if I'm up for making another level.

I shouldn't get hung up on trying to make these in order, I can always sort them later by difficultly.

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Level 9 is still too difficult

by midge 30. October 2014 02:33

So wow. Yea all I planned to do was playtest 9 (flappyCopters2.txt) today and tweak it a little bit. There were some impossible parts right at the beginning that I changed enough to make them possible but still quite challenging.

Here's the thing: I still haven't beaten this level. I played it probably for close to an hour. It is still insanely difficult. It's just that now the level is so long you have to just have a flawless playthrough. And as I kept going I was getting more and more tired.

So I'll still probably make this a little easier. Or it could be the very last level. The level length on this one is 900.

Yea, I gotta make it easier, nobody is going to have this much patience with a level.

If I do end up with some very difficult levels, I think game center integration is important, because people are going to want to brag ( I hope) about beating these insane levels.

 

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Back to it.

by midge 29. October 2014 03:54

Ok, so I got back to working on the game again tonight. I'm still on making the levels. I made the longest level yet, "flappyCopters2.txt", it was just the same style of pipes as the first flappy copters level. This one was 900 long.

I MADE it, I haven't playtested it yet. I will probably need to adjust how it plays, and make sure it is beatable.

It's almost 4am, whoops.

So at least I'm back to working on this thing once in a while. If I can get this level playtested tomorrow, that would be good. If I could start a new level tomorrow, that would be even better..

 

This level, when it's done, will be 9 out of 12. The pace is slowing down because I really need to get these last levels right and they will all be longer.

Cool.

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Well I think I just made the hardest level yet.

by midge 15. October 2014 00:41

"jagged.txt"

One feature I accidentally put into my game was not dying when the helicopter hits the top or bottom of the screen but not a block. I thought it was kind of a cool feature, and I've added it into a few levels in a few different places now.

It encourages people to give it the gas or just free fall once in a while, which is fun.

So this level I just made was the longest one I've made yet. I stared at the blank level editor for a little while to get started, and then I just started making jagged rocks all over the place. I came up with a certain pattern and then kinda finished the level with that.

There is a lot of up and down, a few hard climbs and dives. I didn't have too too many super tight spots, but a lot of up and down. So that, and being longer (800) made this the hardest level yet. It's TOUGH. I really need to put in an attempt count when testing these so that I can see how many times it takes me to beat each level. Guessing... this one probably took me 50+ attempts.

This game is my baby, so I understand most people aren't going to be dedicated enough to play through this. This would have to be like the last level or the second to last level. I wanted to convince myself that it wasn't impossible (and it wasn't) but it sure is tough.

 

So updating my level list from the other day, here they are sorted by length:

easySlopes            350
diveClimbSqueeze     450
easyBlocks            500   
flappyCopter        500
spottyCaverns        600
squeezeAndDodge        700
sprinkles            700
jagged                800

 

My target was 12 levels. 8 made, 2/3 done. What do you think Obama?

 

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"win win win"

by midge 14. October 2014 00:19

That's what I print in the console every time you complete a level. I may actually show it on the screen in the final game, I like it.

I made one more level tonight "sprinkles.txt". It's a sparsely populated level, just basically a lot of dots to dodge. It came out really fun.

What's neat about it... there's less guidance as to what is the "correct" path, you freak out a little bit when you aren't sure which way you're supposed to go, and you have to make a split second decision/guess as to the right way.

It took me about 10 times to beat this one, and I was quite pleased with that. I found myself laughing when I died the first time... that's a great sign. The sparsely populated levels are easier to make too, because I'm flipping less blocks on.

2 levels that have a very unique visual look to the so far is the flappyCopters level and the sprinkles one. I may make a sequel to the levels that seemed to work instead of pulling my hair out trying to think of new ideas.

Here are all the current levels sorted by level lengths.

  • easySlopes             350
  • diveClimbSqueeze   450
  • easyBlocks              500   
  • flappyCopter           500
  • spottyCaverns         600
  • squeezeAndDodge   700
  • sprinkles                700

 

I was thinking about trying to do a second level tonight, but I think I'm just going to get to bed at a reasonable time.

I seem to be trending towards more shorter levels than I expected. I think short hard levels with an achievement system might make the game more playable. One beastly hard level isn't that fun... and that's what most games like this do.

The level selection and achievements make people more likely to play the game over the long term.

At least I think so. We'll see.

 

Here's a screenshot from the end of the sprinkles level.

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easyBlocks.txt

by midge 13. October 2014 02:30

I kinda phoned this one in. This will be one of the earlier/ easier levels.

I did play through all of the levels I created for the first time in one sitting, it's easy to tell which ones are better than others.

Unless I add a lot of levels, make the levels much longer, or increase the difficulty, they will be able to beat this game pretty quickly.

I did have the idea of a "time trial" mode where you see how long it takes to beat the whole game. Since scrolling speed is currently constant, it's pretty easy for me to calculate a perfect time for a run through of the game.

6 levels done. My original target was 12, I'm going to stick with that for now.

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I made one long level

by midge 12. October 2014 01:19

"squeezeAndDodge.txt"

I had wanted to make at least 2 levels today, but whatever... shit happens. At least I got to the gym.

I've decided to focus on gameplay first, and then decorate the levels later (if ever, honestly). Make it fun first.

I was really pleased with how this level played. It probably took by 6 or 7 tries to beat this level, but every time I died, I felt like I had screwed up, not that the level was cheap or frustrating.

I don't think I'm going to work on it anymore tonight. This puts me at 5 levels so far total, assuming I use them all. My target is still 12. 12 feels a little short, but I don't want to put a lifetime into making this game.

I kind of want to move on to other, smaller and easier games. Games that won't need a level editor.

Gotta finish this thing first. I'm getting there... one level at a time.

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idea... mixed mode file format for level data.

by midge 11. October 2014 17:06

This is just a quick note to myself...

One of the earliest decisions I made on the current game was the idea of a very simple file format that would compress every column into a single integer.

As neat as that was, it's limited in that each block can only be on or off, I can't choose a different tile easily.

One way around that is to have a mixed mode.

If the string length of the input is less than or equal to 8 chars ie: FFFFFFFF, its in the original format. Then I'll also accept a string of up to 32 in length for a column that wants to have more than one tile.

 

00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 without the spaces. So each tile could be 0 for off or up to 15 tiles if I stick to hex for a level. I'd probably only have a few tiles per level.

So simple levels could still be simple, but then I could also support more choices of tiles, which could make the game look a lot better.

I've been thinking a lot more about polish as I look at current offerings in the app store. My game will be simple, so I need to make it look solid and well thought out.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Midge.

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