ApathyWorks

Developer Blog around-the-world

Cute Things Dying Violently Post-Mortem

Posted by Alex Jordan on

It's that time of the year again. Having worked on Cute Things Dying Violently for longer than Michelangelo worked on the Sistine Chapel*, I have written a post-mortem to document every up, down, left, right, in, and out of that process. Maybe some back and forth, too. I dunno, whatever. You can read the whole thing here.

I should warn you, though, that it's long as hell. 14 or 15 pages long, in fact. Why? Because I'm a good writer, and I like writing, and because I am like Samson at the gate when it comes to fighting the ADHD-riddled masses out there, wielding my wit and shining knowledge like the jawbone of an ass. Is that even still Samson? I can't remember, but everyone can enjoy a good chuckle about the fact that I referred to my wit as coming from the mouth of an ass. Get it? GET IT?

For anyone who wants to skip to the summary, I've posted it below the fold:

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Two (Brief) Victory Laps

Posted by Alex Jordan on

First off, I'm exceptionally proud and excited to say that Cute Things Dying Violently was one of 8 titles selected to participate in the Indie Games Summer Uprising! I came in 6th (certainly not complaining!), and here's the complete lineup:

All of which are excellent games, and I'm proud to be considered in the same category as them. There's yet more to accomplish on CTDV before it's ready for prime time, but I'm good for it! I won't let the Uprising down!

Pun intended, yes.

Additionally, last month I received an award for Around The World, almost a year after its release. Ryan at VVGTV nominated it for Best Educational Game and the voters agreed, netting me a Golden Dude Award:

Thanks, guys!

Around The World First Quarter Earnings

Posted by Alex Jordan on

So: first quarter earnings, or lack thereof.

It's pretty late (this data is current as of 7/27/10, with nothing new to replace it), but here's how Around The World did in the various markets that I launched it in, during the period of April 2010 to June 2010:

 

GameContentCountryPoints% RateUnitsIncome
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game Canada 80 70 17 $11.52
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game Germany 80 70 9 $6.10
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game France 80 70 2 $1.36
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game United Kingdom 80 70 40 $27.10
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game Italy 80 70 1 $0.68
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game Japan 80 70 1 $0.68
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game Spain 80 70 2 $1.36
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game Sweden 80 70 6 $4.07
Full Game - Around The World Xbox LIVE Indie Game United States 80 70 123 $83.34

That leaves me with a total of $136.20.

Frankly, that's not that bad, but that's only if you take the reporting period into account. April 2010 through June 2010 only accounts for roughly 10 days of actual sales, since ATW came out on June 20. So, we're looking at only 10 days of sales data, not a full quarter.

That said, a cursory glance at the data is telling. ATW did well in English-speaking countries, and poorly everywhere else. Why is that? Well, I guess I could accuse all the Western European and Asian countries as being too effete, well-educated, and cosmopolitan to even need a geography game. But since I doubt that's the case, I think it's just more likely that even if educated non-Anglophone players can read and speak English, they don't necessarily want to. Thus, we see my lack of available game translations - an option I declined to implement - coming back to haunt me.

Also, as this represents the first week and change in sales, any further sales data will continue to show the tremendous dropoff in downloads and purchases that I witnessed once ATW disappeared from the Marketplace's "New Releases" list. However, for Xbox Live Indie Games, ATW has an unusually high attach rate, since people who bother to go searching through the Educational section of the Marketplace have a high intent to buy an educational game. Although the sales have been meager, ATW has been experiencing a 20% to 35% download-to-purchase ratio for these past few months, which is unheard of in the XBLIG community. As a result, I'm seeing a long tail effect for ATW. I'm hardly going to make money from it, but it's nice to see that it's found it's own niche, albeit an absurdly small one that won't threaten my day job.

Ophidian Wars: Opac's Journey

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Another colleague from the Penny Arcade forums, Small Cave Games, has released Ophidian Wars: Opac's Journey on Xbox Live Indie Games for just $1. This is a 2D Metroidvania-style game that will serve as a prelude to an RPG that Small Cave Games is working on. It's been out for three days and has already gotten some pretty good reviews and a high rating, so check it out.

In three days, it's also gotten more than twice as many reviews as Around The World has in a month. (Oh, by the way, happy One Month Anniversary, Around The World!) Not to conjure up more jealousy or squeeze more blood from this stone, but: I shouldn't have made an educational game! (Don't worry, I'm quitting this refrain right now.)

And, as a direct result, I'm currently working on a game that will probably retard your child's maturation. More info on Project Squish to follow.

Around The World Post-Mortem

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Jeez, that took a while.

I collected all of my thoughts and put them into a Post-Mortem article that describes the full development, release, sales, and marketing history of Around The World, as well as what I intend to do for my next project. On that last note, the short version of it is that I'm putting the Prometheus Engine on hold, and have already started a new game, codenamed Project Squish.

I put a lot of heart into the article, and I hope everyone can learn a bit from it. Indie development is tough and frequently unrewarding, but it's also enlightening.

If I had to guess, I'd say that the most relevant section of the article regards how well ATW sold, so here's an excerpt of that after the jump:

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Another Around The World review

Posted by Alex Jordan on

The fine folks at Xbox Live Arcade Ratings hooked me up with a very honest, very enlightening review. Read it here.

Overall, the review was very kind to ATW. The reviewer was less-than-pleased with some aspects of the game, but his criticism was very smart and brought to light certain things that I didn't notice as a developer. For instance, being unable to switch off the day to night cycle gave him some headaches in trying to find locations at night. As a developer, I was so gosh-darn proud of the day-night cycle that it never occurred to me to let players turn it off! Also, he found most of the selection sound effects to be somewhat discouraging. Again, I reserved the best sounds for the best accuracy... it never occurred to me that people struggling to find locations and educate themselves would be turned off by the negative bleeps and blats that come with a miss. I love reviews like this, because in the end, they'll make me a better developer.

Also, unlike the guy from XNPlay, this guy really liked my unlocks/Screen Saver system:

However, the completionist in you will be thrilled to know that there are a LOT of pictures to unlock and, because of that, a lot of scores and correct answer streaks to try for. And, of course, you get to go for your high score. That might not seem like much, but giving you something to shoot for gives a glorified geography quiz a bit of addiction.

Thanks again for the review, DigitalQuarters!

Read the full Around The World review here.

Ouch

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Today, 10 days after Around The World's release, is my first day with absolutely 0 sales. Ever since ATW dropped of the Xbox Live Marketplace's "New Arrivals" section, publicity has fallen practically to nil, as have sales, which weren't exactly robust to begin with.

I'm still writing the ATW post-mortem and collecting my thoughts on how to proceed from here. Will share those thoughts soon.

2 Around The World Reviews

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I'm not sure what I was expecting. As a fairly by-the-numbers edutainment game, it didn't occur to me until now that Around The World doesn't warrant inches upon inches of column space to review. I mean, duh: it has the geographical quiz component, and the unlock/screen saver component. That's kind of it. So, the two reviews I've come across thus far are pretty modest. The first one clocks in at once sentence, the other at one paragraph.

XNPlay gave the one sentence round up, a familiar facet on the site: "Geography quizzes can be fun (this one seems decent enough), but don’t “reward” me with a screen saver!"

NaviFairy at GayGamer.net was a lot more cheerful: "Geography quiz games are nothing new, but this one takes a slightly different approach. Rather than pointing at a location and asking you what it is, Around the World will give you four locations (mapped to the four face buttons on the controller) and asks you to find them. You're awarded points depending on how close to the real location you guess, and then a new city is given for you to find. Because you have four location options at any given time, the game is easier since you can just skip the locations that you don't know. I'll admit that my geography skills are pretty terrible (hurray for the American public education system) so I will always advocate this kind of edutainment title."

The XNPlay one kind of irritated me, as the reviewer used his one sentence to bitch about the game's (optional) Screen Saver system. Turns out the guy was sick and tired, and that I got one of the better reviews on the site this week. But, much obliged to NaviFairy at GayGamer, who got what I was going for with the game.

God Bless Steam

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I'm carefully watching the sales for Around The World, but not a lot is going on. I had very modest expectations for the game, and I'd done plenty of research on how indie games fare in the Xbox Live Indie Games market, but I must admit I wasn't prepared for my game to limp from the get-go. Le sigh. I'll encapsulate my thoughts on AtW's post-release period after I complete my Post Mortem article on the game's development.

Meanwhile!

Steam has an amazing sale that's going on until July 4. Tons of high-profile developers have slashed prices on both individual games and publisher bundle packs. The level of savings is utterly fantastic. I'm going to go through the offerings with a fine-toothed comb and pick out the best ones. (And, yes, I remember full well that I have yet to start Indigo Prophecy, which I bought last year for $5 off of Steam.)

Around The World is released!

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Around The World has been released! It is now available for just $1 on Xbox Live Marketplace, under the Xbox Live Indie Games section. View it or buy it here.

I've also added it to the ApathyWorks webpage, and you can check it out here.

Trailer:

Images of my triumph:

Prometheus Diary, Volume 3

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Not only is Around The World back up for Peer Review, but it seems to be coasting on its way to release! (Knock on wood. Do it.)

In the meanwhile, here's another video of the Prometheus Engine:

The biggest thing in this video is support for animated models, also called "skinned" models for a reason that I don't truly understand. Sure, I've been animating things in XNA for awhile now... Around The World had animated lighting, a moving Selector, the selection animations, the whole works.

But that was manual animation, having my game tell the model exactly how to move. With skinned animations, I attach a digital skeleton to my models and set up specific animations in the 3D modeling program of my choice before importing the model into my XNA project. That allows for much more complicated animations, such as a player character being able to walk and jump.

I'm excited! Are you excited? I'm excited.

Prometheus Diary, Volume 1

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Le sigh. Around The World got failed in Peer Review again. It's my own fault, really... I should've caught the error that surfaced. Fortunately, I've learned the art of being patient over the past few weeks, and I relish my new week-long Time Out. It'll give me an opportunity to fix the bug that led to the Peer Review failure (which I should've discovered earlier), and it'll also allow me to track down an illusory game-crashing error that testers are having a hard time reproducing. So, good news.

Also, in the past few weeks, I've acquired ADHD. Since I can't leave well enough alone, I've started work on a new game engine that I call Prometheus. Check it out:

There's a lot going on here in this video:

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Round 2, Fight!

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Around The World is back up for Peer Review for the second time. I'd really appreciate it if any folks with a Premium Creators Club account would do their best to break the game and (hopefully!) give it a pass. Premium types can find the Peer Review page here.

Development Interlude, Impatient Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

First, the good news: sweet box art, courtesy of my brother!

Now, the bad news: some eagle-eyed XNA Creators who were Peer Reviewing Around The World found some rather debilitating bugs. Apparently, having a Selection Animation still running when a round runs out of time causes in-game menus to flat out refuse to show up. The game also stops taking in-game input at that point. No input and no menus means that the game effectively freezes. Oops.

After three frustrating hours, I tracked down the source of the error and eliminated it. However, I had to delete the previous version of the game I uploaded for Peer Review in order to replace it with this newer one. Only, I can't resubmit for another week. That's Microsoft's rule. I'll get to resubmit Around The World on June 1. The wait will be agonizing, and I'm a little peeved, but I'm going to use the time productively and put the game back up for normal play testing (which doesn't have any time limitations) in order to catch any other late-emerging bugs, seeing as how I'd really, really like to avoid any other week-long delays.

Holy Crap

Posted by Alex Jordan on

World Cup is coming, so everyone should take a gander at this:

In other news, Around The World is in Peer Review right now. Once it's been determined to not set fire to your Xbox 360, it'll be up for sale on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and I will be exultant.

Around The World Trailer is up!

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Yes, despite slower updates and lots of personal travel, I have arrived at this point:

I've also finalized (I think!) the game box art, promotional screenshots, and game release package. I'll upload those tonight. Next step is playtesting in the XNA Creators Club Premium community. Once they give my game a rigorous shakedown (and they will), it will then move on to Peer Review, where they check my game for bugs and serious errors. If it has none, the game goes straight to the XBox Marketplace.

And away we go!

Development Diaries, Photoshop/3D Studio Max Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Yes, development on Around The World has entered the flat-out banal phase. My latest piece of box art, sitting next to the old box art:

Latest Older

Development Interlude, Photoshop Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

My work-in-process Box Art:

It's nowhere near done and nowhere near perfect, obviously. I forgot the exclamation mark after "World", the title isn't poppy enough whereas the subtitle is too poppy, and I have a lot of unused space. Give me a day or two and I'll improve upon it.

Development Diaries, Volume 17

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Where we're going, we don't need roads:

Wrong '80s movie franchise, but no Indiana Jones quotes came immediately to mind.

Development on Around The World is mercifully coming to a close, and I'm busy rummaging around on the checklist I made for myself, tackling final tasks and generally polishing things up. In this video, I show off the completed Options and Screen Saver menus. I still have to do the Credits menu and the How To Play menu, and once those are done, Around The World will be feature-complete.

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Whispered World

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Quick Around The World update to prove that I'm still working on it: I had to rewrite my Ocean shader after (a) the original file went missing thanks to a backup snafu, and (b) I wanted to modify it so that the water background (the fuzzy blues behind the continents) actually pans correctly when you zoom in. Yes, I'm mostly working on cosmetic stuff, streamlining, and bug fixes at this point. A finalized beta and playtesting are just on the horizon!

That said, check this out:

I haven't seen an adventure game this beautiful to behold since Curse of Monkey Island. It's going for about $30 on Steam right now, and I think the world would be a sad place indeed if we all didn't admire the artwork and maybe throw a few bucks the developer's way before they all starve to death.

Also, talking about adventure games gives me an opportunity to link to the venerable Old Man Murray article about the adventure game genre committing suicide. The article's practically 10 years old at this point, but it's still as awesome (and accurate) as ever.

Development Interlude, Surprise(d) Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

In trying to make Around The Worlds stand out to potential buyers, I loaded it up with ancillary features, like unlockable wallpaper images, a Screen Saver, and a Leaderboard. Well, we can probably nix the Leaderboard, as today I was surprised by the unwelcome news that Xbox Live Indie Games can't actually have Leaderboards. Huh. I thought they could. Whoops!

I guess it makes a twisted degree of sense. XBLIG is a broad market... lots of developers submitting and selling lots of games. When XBLIG developers pay rent in the form of a $100 annual fee, Microsoft already gives those developers access to some pretty sweet systems, like the Xbox Live networking infrastructure and the Xbox Live Marketplace where they sell the games. However, Microsoft has been far less accomodating on expanding indie games' footprints beyond that. For instance, indie games don't have Achievements, as Microsoft keeps a strong rein on what Achievements games can provide how many points they can give away. I imagine that a flood of simplistic indie games, each with their own Achievements, would be nightmarish for Microsoft.

And it turns out that allowing indie games to use Xbox Live for permanent Leaderboards falls in the same "nuh uh" category. As it stands, there is a workaround: using Xbox Live to share high score information with other players that are currently on Xbox Live at the same time. It uses the same principle as multiplayer games sharing information over the network, which obviously means that the score-sharing isn't permanent; it lasts only as long as the play session does.

The gentleman over at Enchanted Age documents this workaround here. I'm going to study it and see if it's worth the effort.

What I'm Playing, April 2010

Posted by Alex Jordan on

My ability to form cohesive opinions hasn't needed much use in the past few days, so let's just go back to the time-honored list of games I've been playing. I've been very diligent with my work on Around The World, but I'm allowed to take a break every once and a while.

More on Around The World in a bit, as I'm going gangbusters through the remaining gameplay systems, including the Options Screen, Leaderboard Screen, Tutorial, and settings for a Trial version of the game versus the unlocked version.

Development Interlude, Back-Patting Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Because I'm a jerk, I loaded up the Hardest difficulty level in Around The World with some real mindbenders. Prepare to go hunting for obscure islands in places like the South Atlantic and Arctic Oceans if you want to earn those points!

These islands are so obscure that many of them failed to show up on the map I used to generate the game's world. I figured that wasn't fair to players - how could they find obscure places if they didn't show up on the map? - so I went and decided to fix that.

Players will never experience this, but I hid a nice little debug mode in Around The World that cycles through every location in the game's database and checks to make sure it's visible on the map. You see, the map has its typical Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) values to make those pretty colors that represent countries and borders and what have you. In addition to RGB values, the map also has what's called an "Alpha Channel" that determines transparency and, as a result, where you can see straight through to the water behind it. 0 Alpha is full transparency, 255 Alpha is full opacity.

So, my debug mode goes through all the locations and checks to see if the pixel at that point on the map is transparent (0 Alpha) or opaque (255 Alpha). If it's 0? The game resets it to 255, making a little island visible. When the process is done, the game actually generates its own brand new map and saves it to the game. Self-editing!

Cool, huh?

Okay, well, I think it's cool.

Development Diaries, Volume 16

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Oh, the places you'll go:

What you see in the video above is confidence that the main game itself is pretty much feature-complete, and that I've moved onto another system: the Screen Saver. In this video, I briefly feature the collection of 65 images that can be unlocked by playing the game.

Assembling and editing the photos for the Screen Saver/wallpaper system was, actually, a lot of fun. Most of the U.S. and Canadian photos are my own, but seeing as how I'm developing a global game, it turned out that I'd need more than, ah, U.S. and Canadian photos. So I hit up the interthump in search of good Public Domain images, of which it turns out there are quite a lot. (I sourced all of them through Wikipedia, which unambiguously states the copyright of each hosted image. In these cases, I only used the ones listed "Public Domain.")

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Development Interlude, Frustration Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Shorter Thomas Edison: I'm learning a ton of new ways to not make an XNA game.

Sturm und drang, huffing and puffing aside, that's more or less true. I've been hung up for the past several hours about how to compress my plethora of unlockable Around The World wallpapers into a workable size for an XNA game. You see, I'm 75% positive right now that I want to sell Around The World on Xbox Live Indie Games for $1, and $1 games have a 50mb size limitation. Fortunately for me, I loaded the game up with only 30mb of wallpapers. Unfortunately for me, C#/XNA compiles those images into an uncompressed format that's optimized for being read by a graphics card.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that XNA was in the habit of compiling 30mb of wallpaper images into 150mb of game files. So much for my 50mb limit.

Or so I thought. I found a way of setting the compile settings on any image (or rather, any file period) that I add to my game. I changed the compile settings on the wallpaper from "Color" mode (which creates uncompressed images) to DXT1 mode, which compresses images and optimizes them for 3D models. 150mb of wallpaper images has thus reverted back to 30mb in size. Of course, I won't be using the wallpapers on 3D models, so it remains to be seen if this compression leads to really poor image quality.

Oh well, you live and learn. And grind your teeth.

Development Interlude, Minutiae Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

The last post that had this title disappeared (mysteriously!), so I'm not going to invest much effort into this one, less it fall into the same wormhole.

85% of Around The World is diggity done. Content-wise, the game is all there, with the only major remaining systems being the Screen Saver/Wallpaper viewer, Leaderboard, and Tutorial system. The Screen Saver and Tutorial are procedural time sinks (i.e. I already know how to do them), and the Leaderboard is the last real unknown for me... yet another aspect of Xbox Live and XNA that I have to learn from scratch. That said, it doesn't really concern me.

Everything other remaining thing to implement is minutiae: making certain graphics a little prettier, streamlining certain systems, polishing certain features, etc. It's time-consuming but it's represented by a discreet checklist, so can go bang-bang-bang down the list (when I'm not busy obsessing over Bad Company 2 of any George R. R. Martin books).

And speaking of checklists, below the fold is a list of the things you need to achieve to unlock Wallpapers for the Screen Saver:

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Development Interlude

Posted by Alex Jordan on

It turns out I've stepped beyond my comfort zone.

It was bound to happen, and has happened previously. As documented in my Development Diaries, a lot of my work on Around The World was handled in preliminary projects. Duly named "3D Test 01", "3D Test 02", etc. etc., these projects allowed me to get the hang of XNA and get a feel for implementing new features without cluttering up an actual game's code base with all sorts of trial and error code.

Also, fewer notes to self in the code that say, " I have no idea what the hell I'm doing here."

My preliminary projects filled in a lot of the knowledge gaps I needed plugged before working on Around The World, but not all of them. For instance, I neglected to delve into saving and loading game progress, which is what I'm working on right now.

It's a bit outside my comfort zone because it leaves the relative safety of straightforward game design and moves into the territory of querying the Xbox 360's Dashboard features. Now I have to master a whole slew of features which I do not get to design myself, because Microsoft beat me to it: the overall Guide menu, Storage Device windows, text input screens, saving and loading games, Leaderboards, you name it. The functionality they offer is very potent, but it's alien to me. I have the unenviable task of having access to the Xbox 360's behind-the-curtain features, without being able to wholly see what is actually behind the curtain.

Or maybe I'm just a poor programmer and a whiney douche. I'll press on ahead and make sure this damned game's progress can be saved and loaded. My adoring fans need to save their high scores!

Development Diaries, Volume 15

Posted by Alex Jordan on

The Olympics is a great morale-booster. It allows you to exercise like crazy at the gym when it's on in the background, and it inspires you to achieve great(er) things for yourself. It provided a lovely push for me to get yet more accomplished on Around The World.

The most notable additions to this video are the Round End menu (which also shows off how you unlock Screen Saver pictures while playing the game) and some new selection sound effects, so turn on your speakers or plug in your headphones. I've turned off music for the time-being, as it's ridiculously aggravating to hear the same damn song when you run a debug build ever 2.5 minutes.

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Development Diaries, Volume 14

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Dear Diary,

SHAZAM!

Turn your sound on for this one, I finally added music!

For a change, this Development Diary doesn't require much in the way of discourse. This video represents a lot of features and ideas that I've described previously. So, let's jump to a list of what the video is showing:

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Consider me somewhat less horrified

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Okay, some feedback from some folks on the Penny Arcade forums made me feel much better. My game still has a good chance of standing out. Also, this made me laugh:

Consider me horrified. Really.

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I'm not the first person to have thought of a geography game. And, more importantly, I'm not the first person to have released one.

Enter: 09/12/18/globe-clicker-review/" target="_blank">Globe Clicker.

Well, consider my night ruined. My game will have better graphics, of course, and a different gameplay mechanic, as well as a few other odds 'n ends like power ups and a Wallpaper app that you unlock photos for as you play. And mine will retail for $1.

But I'm not first. And good lord, does that make me feel horrible.

On Multitasking

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Over the past few days, I've determined that, yes, despite the degree to which I screwed with the original Equirectangular Projection map to get it to fit onto a texture and 3D model, it is still possible to map latitudes and longitudes directly to an accurate X and Y screen position for my game. Hooray! I have to build the adjustments directly into the code that interprets the latitude and longitude, but it works.

That means that I don't have to manually enter in all the positioning data in-game. What I do have to manually enter in is latitudes and longitudes into my XML database. Fortunately, I have a standardized source for that: Wikipedia. My teacher parents, the living embodiment of "citation needed!", would freak out, but the data is all in one place and the tests I've done thus far are accurate. As a result, all of last night's work was spent (a) taking the latitudes and longitudes in the format of 41°49'25"N 71°25'20"W (Providence, RI) and converting them into a string-friendly format, like "41d49m25sN71d25m20sW", (b) loading that string into my XML database, and (c) coming up with code to parse that string correctly into X and Y coordinates in the game itself. Which I did. And it is awesome. Details and probably a new movie soon.

Oh, and I made the ocean background less horrendous. Again.

And you know what? I did all this while watching Dante's Peak!

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Development Diaries, Volume 13

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I wasn't kidding when I said I was going to have a Development Diary in the "imminent future", was I?

Above, you finally get a taste of the gameplay I'm going for. With four random locations that you can choose to either answer or ignore, the player will have to juggle these options in his or her head while deciding where to move the Selector. There's also the difficulty factor: on the Pie Wheel at the bottom, Red means Hard, Yellow means Intermediate, and Green means Easy. Beyond that, there's also the accuracy with which the player must place the Selector, with different multipliers awarded for how close you can get to the city in question.

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Brief update(s)

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I've been up to quite a lot these past few days.

Development Diaries, Volume 12

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Here's the latest screenshot of just what, exactly, my HUD is shaping up to look like:

HUD!

Click for a full-sized version.

As you can see, I've more or less finished the Pie Wheel, standardized placement for the location text that goes along with the Pie Wheel, and even added a Score/Time Remaining meter (on the right) and two Power Up icons (on the left).

Now, of course, I get to agonize about certain things.

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Development Diaries, Volume 11

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I've been working on the Heads Up Display (HUD) for Around The World, not to mention some of the selection effects. Take a peek:

The HUD currently consists of the following components: the Selector (which has always been around), the Pie Wheel that shows Xbox 360 controller face buttons, and the selection effect (i.e. "the bullseye").

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Development Interlude, Global Warming Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

There's something wrong with the image I posted below. Do you know what it is?

I'll give you a hint: I removed Antarctica.

Wait, that's not a hint! That's the answer! Aww.

Whilst I slept, vengeful hippies snuck onto my laptop and and inflicted Global Warming upon Antarctica, melting it away. How Global Warming melted away a solid land-based continent, I have no idea, as the hippies were already long gone.

Or maybe the hippies realized that, when it came time to implement the HUD, that Antarctica posed a problem as it wasn't "free-standing" like the other continents: the edges of the projections I acquired to generate the world model actually cut off the left, right, and bottom sides of Antarctica. That means that I had no room to maneuver when it came time to resize the game window to fit the HUD... I couldn't make it taller or wider without showing that there wasn't any more of Antarctica, that it just abruptly ended where the projections ended. Oops.

So now that Antarctica has been removed from the image and the model, I can resize the game window as I see fit to include the HUD. Thanks a bunch, hippies.

Development Interlude

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I have been working on Around The World during Christmas break. See?

ATW

Justification!

I've been working on the Heads Up Display (HUD) system, including a Pie Wheel for button selection that corresponds to the Xbox 360 gamepad face buttons, and the cold-warm-hot effect for selecting a location with the crosshair.

I'd show you all this in a nice video, but the DSL here in Rhode Island is hilariously bad, and the upload rate is some obscene derivative of hilariously bad. Short story is that nothing's getting uploading to YouTube until I return to DC. But in the meanwhile, a pretty picture!

My love affair with Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer is coming to a close, I think. We shall see. It'd be nice to finally get around to finishing Assassin's Creed 2, anyway.

Development Diaries, Volume 10

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Against all odds, I've done some work.

Despite my crippling Modern Warfare 2 addiction, for which there is no cure, I've ported my shaders, models, and assorted art into a fresh code base and have begun working on the actual game of Around The World.

As you can see, I have a rudimentary menu system working. It's got a red halo at the moment, currently set to fit the frame of the "Title Safe Area" that XNA figures out from whichever system it's running on. (All old tube TVs and even most HDTVs chop off a wee bit of their picture around the edges.) I don't think I'm going to keep using it, though... It'll be much more efficient to just anticipate that a certain amount of the borders will be lost to the edges of a TV screen and place my graphics further from the edges as needed.

There's also the noticeable and automatic day-to-night-to-day transition. So I've got that going for me.

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