Controlling Touchscreen Controls

I had two goals this week: 1) Fix some bugs, and 2) Make more art assets.  Those are probably going to be my main goals for the project until it’s done.  Fix bugs.  Make art assets.  Fix bugs.  Make art assets.

I really need to review my lists of bugs and art assets.

In any case, here’s this week’s update.

Fix Bugs

I have noticed several bugs in the mobile version of the game.  For starters, occasionally the game seems to freeze at the menu screen – or more accurately, sometimes I can’t close the menu.  And with the added Help cutscene last week, the game could get into a state where the player starts moving in one direction and never stops.

As it turns out, when I first implemented the touchscreen controls, I hacked together some really stupid code just to get it sort of working, and never really took the time to go over it and do it right.  State was handled in the topmost layer in the UI stack, so a push or pop on the top layer at the right time (e.g. think Menus or Help cutscenes) would make the game enter a wonky state and become unplayable.

Not cool.

So the touchscreen state was mostly moved into the engine.  My UI layers still capture and handle touch events as needed, but questions like “is the user touching the screen right now” and “where did they start” and “where is their finger currently” are now answered by looking in one place.  Easier to use, fewer bugs, and more reusable in future projects.

Here’s my sample this week, of me playing around with the virtual joystick, ensuring it still works correctly:

Make Art Assets

I also worked on two new pigeons this week, and one more bonus food.  The hard part about making the pigeons is that I start to figure out better ways to paint them, but I want some consistency in the art style.  In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time practicing painting pigeons prior to making the actual art assets for the game.

I’m aiming for about 9 bonus foods in the game.  With the new one this week, I have 4: bagels, pizza, hotdogs, and pretzels.  Not necessarily in that order (although they are currently in that order).

Next Time

My tasks for this next week are, you probably guessed it:

  1. Fix bugs
  2. Make art assets

I think I’m going to try to focus on pigeon AI bugs this next week.  As for art assets, I’m aiming for two more pigeons, and two more bonus foods.

How To Play A Park And Pigeons

For the last month or so, I’ve been re-working pieces of the game all to make it possible for in-game cutscenes. But why would I want in-game cutscenes for an arcade-style mobile game with no breaks in gameplay?

It turns out that the main takeaway, of all the feedback I’ve received for my game, is that starting out, people aren’t sure how to play it.  This even goes for the trial desktop version I was working with originally.  So I can only imagine how much harder it would be to figure out how to play a mobile version.

A Task!

The challenge was to present the basic game mechanics to the player, in a way that would be clear and concise.  No step-by-step help screens, or vague images.  What I wanted were simple cutscenes that show the user what to do.

So began the difficult task of revising the game’s entity handling so that I can have a bunch of pigeons and a bunch of food… and then also have a bunch of other pigeons and a bunch of other food in another space entirely.  Kind of like a parallel dimension sort of thing.  It turns out, it’s a lot of work.

Stick to the Script

Next, came the task of figuring out a simple way to script cutscenes.  I want this to be small, so I’m not loading in any third-party scripting libraries where I can use a 4th-generation language and reflection to make birds move around the screen.  That’s more than I want to try to debug at this point.  Just simple events will do.

I think it works.  The videos are short and easy to follow – and if you miss something they loop, so you can just watch them again.  There’s no text or spoken instructions, so I don’t have to worry about translating them.  And they don’t explain all of the game’s mechanics – I want to leave some of that to the player to discover.

What’s next?

The next work cycle for me is going to be mostly fixing bugs and completing art assets.  Bonus foods are a bagel, pizza, and hot dog.  I think the pigeons need more than that.  Also this park needs more pigeons.

Website Redesign

I haven’t been doing much with this website lately, probably because it doesn’t see a lot of traffic and my leaps forward on the game has been less frequent. Let’s change that, shall we?

(I say “we” but really it’ll just be me.)

With the game getting closer to being done, and me getting closer to setting a release date (finally), I am going to redesign the website.  It won’t be anything too flashy (or Flash-y), but definitely something different than the current theme.

Be sure to check back soon!

Status Update: A Park And Pigeons now runs on Android

Hello again, 4000 Pounds website.  You might think I forgot that you were here waiting for me, but I didn’t.  I was just busy with Real Life.  But I realized that I needed to return to you with the latest development from this week.  Get ready for an UPDATE.


The last time I posted (if you can remember that far back), I had just finished getting the game running on my iPhone.  Since then, I’ve made some various improvements, but the biggest news is that the game runs on Android now!  My brother loaned me his old Samsung Galaxy S5, and it’s quite smooth:

See?  Smooth.

So where is the project now?  The game runs on the two most popular OS’s for mobile devices, so it should be for sale soon, right?  Right?

Well, sorta.  I’ve still got a lot of work to do.  Okay, maybe not a lot, but it’s all important.  I want to make sure the game is solid when I release it.  So here’s what I have left on my list, broken out into some basic categories:

Programming

Backgrounds – I want to have more decorative backgrounds, and a larger variety than just one background.  Some of this will be procedurally generated – nothing too complex, I promise to keep it simple.

Menus – They are kind of a mess right now with the move to mobile.  So first I’m going to get them working right, then I’ll add some screens for settings, high scores, or whatever else there is.

HUD – I’m pretty happy with the HUD as it is, but since moving to mobile, there are a few changes I could make.  For one, the screen is kind of small, so I’d like to make the fonts just a tad bigger to start.

New Features – There are a few new features I have in mind for the game, so I’d like to get those added as well.  I won’t get into all of them here (I’d like some to be a surprise for players), but they shouldn’t be too much work to get integrated.  I’m also thinking of revising (or even throwing away) the bonus challenge stuff, as it just still feels kind of clunky.  We’ll see.

Defect Resolution – I’ve been keeping a list of bugs, so I’ll be working on cleaning those up.

Assets

Pigeons – I need to draw lots of pigeons.  So many pigeons.

Food – I also need to draw more food.  More seeds (for more variety).  Street foods for bonuses.

Dog – I’m mostly happy with the dog, but I’d like to make a few modifications.

Background art – In addition to implementing some background generation, I’ll need to actually make the assets for it.

Animations – I need to do some fine-tuning for animations.

HUD/Menu/Logo/etc. – I need to work on a lot of the screen graphics, the things you don’t generally see in-game.

Font (?) – I might try to make a new font, or even a secondary one.

Sound/Music – I’m not sure if I’ll put any music in the game.  I definitely need to do some work on the sound though.  More/better sound effects.  And I need them to sync with the action a little better (I seem to notice a small gap between a pigeon flying/dashing and the actual sound).

Marketing

Website – I really need to do some work on this website.  I need to add a landing page for the game, and even set up the games page.  In fact, I really just need to redesign the whole site so that it looks… well, you know.  Good.

Press Kit – I don’t know how much press attention my game will get, but it’d be better to have a press kit than not.

Trailer – I’ll need to make a decent trailer for the game.  Short and to the point.

Distribution

iOS port – Sure, the game runs on iOS now.  But as I make changes, I’ll need to make sure it keeps playing on iOS.

Android port – Same as with iOS, let’s keep it running on Android.

App Stores – I need to figure out what steps I actually need to take to get the game into the app stores.


So this is pretty much the list – I know parts of it are vague, but they’re a little more detailed in my notes, so no worries there.  I know what I’m doing.  Sorta.  The point is that as I get an idea how long these things will take me, I’m going to start looking for a release date.  As soon as I have it, I will let you know.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

A Park And Pigeons on a Mobile Device

Long time since I’ve done a status update.  Sorry about that.  I took an extended vacation in Hyrule, and since I’ve been back to work on the game, I’ve spent most of my effort on getting the game ported to iOS, so I didn’t really have much to report.

In any case, I’m happy to say that it’s finally working!  A Park And Pigeons now runs in a mobile environment using SDL and OpenGL ES.  There are, of course, a handful of bugs that were introduced in the process of porting the game (shadows aren’t working, depth maps aren’t working, the game crashes occasionally), but I’ll be working on those and hopefully some art assets this next week.

Here is a preview of the game running on my iPhone:

I’m going to try to get back in the habit of posting on this blog more frequently.  So check back next week!