January 2019 Update

Here’s my list of remaining things, with tasks marked off that were completed since the last time I posted it:

Programming

Mobile:

  • Fix an audio error on mobile (specifically iOS, haven’t noticed it on Android at all) – FIXED
  • Render HUD within the safe area on Android devices (specifically those with rounded corners and the “notch”)
  • Fix an error with the tutorial screen when device is rotated

Gameplay Tuning:

  • Need some modification to birdie AI
  • Modify spawning patterns for food

Rendering:

  • Optimizations on the overall render pass
  • Fix depth rendering on sprites
  • Reduce doodads toward the center of backgrounds so they don’t hinder food visibility as much
  • Adjust colors throughout, so that foods stand out a little bit more
  • Revise some of the background patterns

Overall flow of the game:

  • Tutorial screen is annoying – pops up too frequently while player is learning controls

Assets

  • A few additions to background assets
  • More dog art
  • Definitely more pigeon art
  • Four more bonus foods
  • Create a loading/launch screen for mobile devices

Marketing

  • Press Kit
  • Game Trailer

Distribution

  • Keep reading about the steps needed to get the game into app stores.

The big one this past week was the render pass optimizations. More efficient rendering means I can add another render pass to fix my depth buffer issues.

So… this next week I plan to work on that – restoring the depth buffer for mobile builds – and also I want to add some bonus foods.

New Year’s Post – 2019

It’s 2019!  Will this be the year that we release A Park And Pigeons?

That’s the plan!  I thought I was close last year, but I had several things I had to redesign for mobile support (specifically on Android OS).

Not this year though. I’m working my way through a short list of remaining things to do, and one of those things is actually getting the game submitted to the app stores.  So yeah, that should be happening soon.

For now, I have a few things on the list I’m finishing up.  After that I’ll post another status update with the list from last week.

Happy New Year!

A Park And Pigeons – Status Update

I’m going to change up the format of these updates, especially since I’m getting closer to being done with A Park And Pigeons, and so it’s getting harder to show some of the things I’m working on.

Below is a high-level summary of the remaining tasks for this game (that I’m aware of at the time of writing this).  Also, I’ve highlighted the ones that I completed this week:

Programming

Mobile:

  • Fix an audio error on mobile (specifically iOS, haven’t noticed it on Android at all).
  • Render HUD within the safe area on Android devices (specifically those with rounded corners and the “notch”)

Gameplay Tuning:

  • Need some modification to birdie AI
  • Modify spawning patterns for food

Rendering:

  • Right end of the gauge is not rendering correctly – FIXED
  • Optimizations on the overall render pass
  • Reduce doodads toward the center of backgrounds so they don’t hinder food visibility as much
  • Adjust colors throughout, so that foods stand out a little bit more
  • Revise some of the background patterns

Overall flow of the game:

  • Shorten times on title screens – DONE
  • After title screens, show the menu instead of starting a game – DONE
  • Program is straight-up crashing at game-over screen; this needs to be fixed – FIXED

Assets

  • A few additions to background assets
  • More dog art
  • Definitely more pigeon art
  • Four more bonus foods

Marketing

  • Press Kit
  • Game Trailer

Distribution

  • Keep reading about the steps needed to get the game into app stores.

I’m quite sure I have a bunch of other things to do still in my notes, but these are the main things on which I am focusing now.  I’ll try to update next weekend. Hopefully about a third or more of the unfinished items will be checked off by then.

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.