Alpha 0.176

No major updates here - I just put the gas can back in. Still working on new content.

Xmas Review and Things to Come

Xmas came and went fairly fast but it was tasty and fattening. Best gift was an Amazon Kindle from Laura. I read a ton and read all kinds of crap so this really fits my style. Its lite weight and with the free 3G access I can get books anytime - something that came in handy during travels this season.

I also gifted myself several times with glorious Steam sales. The best get was Just Cause 2 which I only tried on console and didn't like due to the controls. The PC works incredibly well and allows me to do all the little tricks the game advertised. So far its been incredible and I can't wait to sit down and get some time in. I also finally go the full version of Transformers War For Cybertron and I can't wait to tear into it. I love the the multiplayer in this game - transforming above an enemy and coming down on him with a robo-hammer is just the best.

So right before flying out for the holidays I made a decision that Combo Storm will be 'released' in March 2011. I plan on the game having plenty of Waves content and the store system. Hopefully I can get the other 2 game modes finished (Endzone and Defense). First step in this process is to add lots of content to do testing. This includes adding a few levels but importantly creating several unique scripts to make the game have an experience curve. Right now it goes from easy wave to super hard. What I am going to do is add several short levels where you fight easy groups and then slowly ramp up to longer levels with lots of waves but also mix in short incredibly difficult waves. A lot of planning will be needed to get this working but I think its going help force me to sit down and tweak the game (that is once all the content is done).

I will need a lot of testers at that point and I may start paying people in some cheap games off Steam.

As always, keep watching.

Low Maintenance

A co-worker was talking about playing Shank and how it was "a game with low maintenance." I think the point he was trying to make was about the game is just pure action - there were no complicated decisions or heavy story to slog through - its just a game at its beat-the-fuck-out-of-everything core.

This got me thinking about how I have been picky recently about the types of games I play with my limited free time. I tend to ignore games that have no choice elements that relate to gameplay (choices between upgrades, some kind of leveling system) and even with the ones that I consider I get even choosier. I feel like this prevents me from playing and enjoying a lot of games that exist.

With this in mind, I went home and started up the Transforms War for Cybertron Demo. I had never really thought about playing this game knowing that the campaign was really just a straight-forward action game with no real customization. boy I am an idiot. Within moments of transforming and opening fire on another robot I was hooked. I'm excited to get a copy and play that game and telling that part of my brain that would normally make me stop playing these games to just shut up.

Alpha 0.17 - HUD and Warnings!

Check out the slightly new hotness!

Alpha 0.164 - The Intestine!

Here is a quick peak at a new level I'm working on. Try it out!

Alpha 0.163 now with new HUD!

Mike Balcerzak is a man who needs all the praise in the world. The guy is a hell of an artist and proves it over and over again. He is constantly practicing and refining his form and always reminds me to never stop trying.

With that in mind, check out and early preview of Mike's new HUD design for Combo Storm. This is an early 'rip' from a png but he just got me a psd so I'll need to tear that apart and put it in more properly.

You also may notice some new tunes...the Tron Legacy Soundtrack came out and things will never be the same.

About 0.161

NOTE: Alpha 0.16 had a major bug in it that caused you to not be able to beat a level. This has been corrected with 0.161

I put a new build up (Alpha 0.161). This contains a few new features including the Level Generator. Here is how it breaks down:

Each level consists of 2 things

  • Map
  • Script for the way enemies spawn on that map (unique to each mode)
To create a level, a rating is generated from your stats (right now its just the number of times you've beaten a level). First a map is randomly selected based on your rating (the map rating has to be <= your rating). The rating of the map is deducted from the generated rating. After that, a set of scripts for that map are looked at. The script with the rating that can use up the remainder of the generated rating left will be chosen. What this means is that you can get a hard map but an easier script to balance it out. I have to fill in more maps/scripts to play around with this system which will be my next task.

In the current build you can see it work a little. There are 2 maps. The first map (the map you are used to seeing) has a 0 rating but 2 scripts (the first being 0 and the second being a 10). The second map as a rating of 10 (its a much harder map to navigate) but with only 1 script with a rating of 0. If you can beat at least 1 level you will unlock the harder maps/scripts. At should :)

Stuff all over the place!

I have been a busy bee. I can't get into to the details of everything but I figured I'd post an update.

Some initial things were how the holidays went. We were able to grab Kinect for the cluster of people that were at my parent's place. Overall it was a raging success. We had some issues with some of the menus (children had to learn what "SIT DOWN NOW" means) but once we got through that mess it was a near instant success. Dance Dance whatever pretty much stole the show but Kinect Adventures (the bundled game) was pretty damn satisfying. I feel Kinect is a bigger deal then the Wii's motion control - and I chock that up to not having to use any remotes.

On the homefront, I've been working on Combo Storm a little here and there. The goal now is to get the random level selection system working and provide more content (which will also let me play with more with level design). I've been adding some smaller elements when I don't have enough time and I tried to throw in a "stake gun" but it only revealed wholes in the code - in this case 2 actions fighting for control of the same variable on an Agent. I'm going to write a little helper object that can help actions "take control" of the variable and deny others from modifying it during that time.

As always..stay tuned.

Idle Hands make the Devil's Programmer

So I was attempting to put in a new gun before I head home for the holidays. All I did in the end was expose several holes in the weapons/status effect systems in the game. With that in mind I started staring at the code trying to fix them - BAD IDEA. I closed down the solution and told myself "this is what a notebook and time away from the comp are for - solving issues like this." Always need a plan, not just idle hands at the keyboard.

I Turn to You

Forgot to post this update that shows off the improved turning (which was a big problem for the Streakers).

Enter the Streaker

New enemy. Launches row of vomit at you. Very bad. Has problems that cause him to snap and jitter - I'm gonna need to work on those.

The Mouse is in the House

Yo dawg I heard you like mouse support in menus so we put more mouse support in your menus.

Anyone can prove anything with statistics

Got basic versions of the Stats and How To (Tutorial) sections up.

Menus and the women who loved them

I really like a good menu. When you start a game up it is usually the first thing you see and for me its such a deciding factor for how the next 10 minutes will go. With that in mind, I'm taking extra steps to make sure Combo Storm puts its best foot forward when you start it up. So what is presented below is the first couple of steps towards that. I'd like to hear what you think!

Opening the doors to the lab..

Here is something I just started working on

Use the left mouse button to click on the gray square to make the green character move. The red ones will chase you. You can press Q to make them stop and W to start them back up again.

I'll explain more later! I want to try Death Spank before bed!

There is water at the bottom of the ocean

I feel with this blog I've been letting the days go by....

Allright so lets play some catchup shall we? After the IGDA showcase I decided to take an extended break and have done very little in the realm of side-projectism. I got some basic code running for a project I'm doing with a friend but even after that I took a break. This previous week was my first man-week in a long time. Don't know what man-week is? That's when your significant other who is exteremly good at keeping you in check leaves for a bit and you go hog-wild. Pretty much at the same time a slew of awesome games came out and pulled me away from working after work. Tomb Raider GoL, Dead Rising 2, Reach, Minecraft - all of these things are ruining Naveen Nattam.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, Laura is staying away an extra week but I've decided to seize the day and take back my life from utter slobishness. I am going to sit down tonight and get back into the lab. I have a few specific tasks to work on and hopefully I can keep it to about 2 or so hours so I can still enjoy some gaming with the TV turned all the way up.

Oh another note! I finally decided on a "complete framework" for Combo Storm - what the final product will be like. Basically its going to boil down to Achievements. When you enter the game, you only have one option to enter the arena. The arena that is picked and the enemies that show up will be 'randomly chosen' based on your current stats. On top of that, I want to implement an achievements system that is filled to brim. The way to 'beat' the game is to get em all. I think this will really fit for Combo Storm and finally put the game in context - which is something I seem to leave behind a lot.

Exciting times up ahead. As always stay tuned.

IGDA Showcase!

So I've been making updates to Combo Storm but not really posting about them so allow me to explain.

My buddy Grant Shonkwiller (check his blog out on the right side there) runs the Philly chapter of the IGDA. He's pretty dedicated to the game dev community and he invited me to come show off Combo Storm at the Showcase they were putting on. It was just before this point that I told myself I was not going to work on the game anymore due to personal reasons (it was going from being fun to being stressful). Grant's invitation simply turned my mind around. After talking with Laura about it I decided I was going to do this for me and not really go after seeking approval (though hey who doesn't love that!?). So here are 2 new vids - one of the version I took to the show (which you can download on the right) and the other was a funny reaction from some guys at the showcase. Enjoy!

And here are some pics:

My man Mike Balz plays the game and is being his super supportive self.

The G-schonk comes by again to take on the zombie swarms.

Matt Brenner graces me with his time to take the game on. He got several Combo Storms (10 combos in 10 seconds)...that reminds me..I need achievements!

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by for even a second to glance at the game and thanks to IGDA Philly for putting on a hell of a show!

Proto 0.55

I am going to be putting my game up in the IGDA Philly Showcase this Saturday so I decided to go against my word and do some more work. I'll post more later but check this out in the mean time.

Taking a Toll

As I mentioned in the previous post, working solo can be rather difficult. After this weekend, I decided its time to take an extended "break" from Combo Storm and work on some other stuff for awhile. I have a project I'm working on with a friend and its been slow coming mostly due to business and ComboStorm. I think I'm going to switch gears and focus on that for awhile.

I like working on my game but I think I've been stressing out too much on it. Part of me is turning it from "this is fun" to "zomg must do or else fail and die!" - its taking it toll on me and I feel Laura too.

So I'm not going to stop doing work at home, I'm just going to dedicate more time to cooperative projects exclusively. I think some fun stuff is brewing. Also, I'm going to play more SC2 (even if my gut instinct tells me to play some other game). I woke up early again cause of that bastard cat and finished a mission and forgot how much fun the game can be when you go in with a proper battle plan.

Making it for me

Working solo on a project can be rather tiresome. The constant loop I find myself in is ultimately wanting to talk about my game all the time and giggle over all the little things can have been done and can be done to make it more awesome but realizing I have to force these conversations on my friends and family. If I was working with someone else, I'd imagine it'd be natural to be constantly excited with them. I tend hit my lowest points when this thought grows too strong - I simply enter the "wtf is this all about" phase. It is not fun.

I hit one of those on Sunday night after implementing all the upgrades. I was so excited about it and wanted to talk about it...but found myself sort of staring at the wall. That led to Monday which just sucked. Laura was being incredibly sweet to me - she made my favorite Mozzarella sandwich. I tried to be a little more cheerful to show I cared but was finding it difficult. So my sulking continued all the way till bed time. It was there that Laura said the most meaningful thing to me. I won't give the exact words but rough translation (to me) was "So, is this what your gonna do? Get up."

And I did.

New features coming to Combo Storm

  • Movement speed being modified based on how far away you are moving from your heading. This means you will go slower if you are firing and moving backwards.
  • Power Pads - these are fixed areas that when you come in contact will grant a boost. Right now the list has giving you a super powered weapon as long as you are in contact, a temporary speed boost, and am auto-turret.
  • New "Spawner" enemy type.
  • Very far down the road: an "AI Director" to drop in enemies at unexpected times
Good night and tell my wife thanks.

Too Hard!

Quick update:


I reduced the difficulty to get the first tier of upgrades. Keep trying for that Chain Laser, its awesome. I guarantee it.

Light it on fire!


This prototype is all about upgrades!

  • When a combo is made, the weapons involved gain some of those points towards leveling up.
  • The pistol (Left Mouse Button) now has 3 levels
  • The laser (Right Mouse Button) now has 3 levels
  • All new level showing off blocking geometry (well blocking tiles really)
  • All new wave configurations - 7 waves now present!
  • New music!
  • Updated HUD - the life bar has been removed (rely on the screen darkening). Weapons now show the current level and % till upgrade (0-1).
Protips: Keep the combos up, especially 1-2-3 (which is 2 lefts and 1 right) to get the weapon experience flowing. Another easy one is gas can (Spacebar) and laser the victims (Right).

Lots of Bothians died to bring you this prototype. They even included a video to entice you. Don't let their deaths be for nothing . Hit me up with feedback! see how it feels

Here is a little sneak preview of the new upgrade to the laser gun...CHAIN LAZERS!

In the lab...

Been a while since I posted, so I figured I should let y'all on in.

Amidst utter madness and imbalance going on right now, I've still been dedicated to Combo Storm. I really do feel that this is finally going to be the 'game.' So among the many things post-charger the newest system to be added is Weapon Upgrades.

Here is how it works: When you perform a combo, you do some bonus damage - that bonus damage is also considered combo points. A portion of those points get added to each weapon that was involved in the combo. Once you earn enough points with a weapon, it will upgrade. My hopes with this is to create a bit of "level strategy" where you will want particular upgrades to help with waves at different points in a level.

Right now upgrades have been kind of lame - I just have the main gun shoot faster, etc. I'm going to spend sometime this brewing up some fun ideas and then wrapping that up for a new proto. What I'm hoping is the the upgrades will do more of a status effect to the enemy rather then simply more damage. Some suggestions:

  • Gas Can upgrade makes it a proximity mine
  • Hip Shot (LMB) becomes a faster submachine gun
  • Laser causes slow down
Not much to work off, but I think its a start. If you have any ideas hit me up here or at my email!

I'm out-y 5000.

From the Rafters, LIKE A BAT!


Oh man, you ever had one of those moments where you thought something would work out and instead it breaks your concept of awesome and creates some new kind of SUPER awesome!? Yeah that is how I feel about this update! First off, shout out to Austin and Grant for taking time to play my game and giving me solid feedback. I think Austin is the primary creditor for the new enemy: THE CHARGER!

  • New Enemy: The Charger! This pesky guy will move into range and take flight and charge at you. Watch out! Staying in contact with him while he charges is very dangerous to your health!
  • Goo Man will now spawn a vomit puddle at your feet if he hits you with his vomit
  • Modified the waves so they are a little more challenging.
  • Slightly improved enemy AI so they try to intercept you.
I really like this new enemy - it really makes you keep moving and makes herding enemies a pain.

Coming Up:
  • Exploding Enemies
  • Multi-room enviroments
  • Combo Point / Time Tracking
Get out there and give it a go! Tell me what you think!

In the works

first off i'm testing a new app on my phone to help blog on the go (no tweeting for me) so apologies for bad spelling,etc.

I'm going to be working on a new enemy this weekend called the charger. Rest assured, he will charge.

A little less jiggle

I reduced the camera bob in Proto 0.3 a bit. Feel free to re-download it and tell me what you think.

The Inception of Camera Bobbin


So this update doesn't have a slew of new content in it but I felt like posting it.

  • The download has been reduced significantly. This is due to finally getting mp3 support working which allows for vastly smaller music files. Enjoy the new tune!
  • Camera Bobbin! If you find this annoying please hit me up with some feedback. I like it but do feel it need some work.
  • The icons at the bottom will now be faded out when they are recharging. I am going to work on a way to fade them slowly in to give you a better idea of how long.
  • The black bar that used to represent energy is now health (as well as the screen getting darker).
Up Next
  • Improved AI - less chase and more intercepting!
  • Improved Power Icons (the fading in I mentioned above)
  • Improved level - going to spend some time tuning the spawning
As always, hit me up with your feedback. I'll be rocking SC2 for a bit but I'll try to stay on it!

Just takes one time

When you've had a crappy day it really freaking helps to get into a nice random game during a L4D2 finale and just have people sync and make it awesome.

Standing in the helicopter covering my buddy with a grenade launcher while he valiantly runs out to grab our last teammate off the ground is pretty awesome. Oh and I forgot to mention its in during a rock concert. Scratch awesome. That is fucking epic.

Round Screens

Laura had to get some work done this weekend so I sat down and started going through that checklist I made in ColorNote on my phone. First big thing was adding the "game flow" stuff. For now this is a Round Start screen then go to the game and then to a Round Over which goes back to Round Start. I've decided for fun to add make these screens appear as places in the game world. The camera pans to them (and in the case of Round Start) will load the next level. This kind of gives the game a seamless transition - however my design skills are awful and I need to find some things that look cool to make those screens have more impact.

Any ideas?

Bullet Time

I want to spill some beans about the awesome family vacation we took part in last week but I want to gather my thoughts and some pictures.

For now, take solace knowing I just adjusted forces to act over time so they will behave correctly during a bullet time effect that will proc when you get double gas cans! During the trip I was using an awesome Android App called ColorNote to keep a running list of ideas. Next up - having the slow down effect proc when you get a multi-kill and after that - an enemy that spawns more enemies! (and of course some polish).

GooMan! Oh my!

While I'm putting off plenty of time before the next update (prolly not till next week) I wanted to list a few upcoming features that'll be added:

  • GooMan! This annoying bugger carries more health and shoots a long range slime shot that will spawn a venemouse puddle of vomit where it hits. Watch this stuff cause it burns!
  • Gas Can will now drop instead of being 'thrown'
  • New music!
  • Possibly a new map
  • Maybe some improved AI
Stay tuned!

Holy Gas Cans Batman!

Well I posted about it and here it is! Time to rock a little harder with a new and improved ComboStorm prototype!


NOTE: There is no way to respawn. Simply quit and start it back up when you die/win.

Changes include

  • No more energy! All weapons are unlimited
  • All weapons have a button! LMB/RMB/Spacebar
  • Try the new Gas Can power! Throw it then shoot it! Chain 2 together to get the "Let Em Burn!" combo for massive damage.
  • Aimed Shot (the laser tied to RMB) will now hit multiple targets
  • Badassness increased by blaring Motorhead!
Now go git some!


So I got some great feedback from ComboShooters initial unveiling. I think people are going to like this title more then Space Ballz (which I'm not saying is bad but people love to blow stuff up right?).

I'm going to dig in and take some of the initial feedback and make some decent changes:

  • Guns shoot max regardless of where cursor is
  • Energy(Ammo) has been taken out. Instead all weapons have reduced damage but are unlimited and have a small "reload time"
  • Performing combos no longer grants Energy/Ammo (since this has been removed) and will now grant pretty big bonus damage points, The goal is that this be necessary when you get surrounded.
  • All three existing guns (which I may swap one out) are now linked to LMB/RMB/Spacebar
  • the laser gun (2) has less damage but hits multiple enemies
  • Adding a new weapon called Gas Tank that will throw out a non-colliding tank that can be shot later to cause an explosion. Combos can be made by getting 2 cans to explode and hit the same target (also another for shooting explosion affected enemies).
These changes will hopefully be in before the weekend (which I have many a plan for so I need to get this thing out the door asap!).

Stay tuned!

Presenting ComboStorm!

Its rocking time! Grab the gun and lets make some robot zombie gibs! I'm pretty freaking proud of this prototype. If your not in the mood to play it (or are saying to yourself "I'm a big wuss and this game looks like it would rock my wuss core to much"), then at least look at the pictures.


Game Crack

I'm getting to that point with Shooter where I start to freak out that I can't make a game. Its a mixture of not focusing on a constant vision, letting things get to piece meal, and my own doubts. I decided last night to jot some notes down but take some time to play some games to reset myself and remember why I am trying to do what I'm trying to do.

The Crackdown 2 demo came out this week (I think on Monday) and I could not be happier. While I'm not a big sandbox game guy, Crackdown always held a special place in my heart. The number 1 thing I wanted was zombies...and Crackdown 2 delivers vast hordes of mutated freaks to pulverize. Mix that with you super powered agent carrying massive guns and I'm more then sold. The demo is pretty solid and offers a chance to get a taste at the possibilities. Truly with Crackdown 2 they took everything in 1 and ramped it up. The only major complaint I have is that there is a terrible lack of music in the game. The ambient noise when you are powering through a wave of zombies really does not make the game any better. The moment I started playing some music over the game, it literally went from 10 to 11. Can't wait to get my hands on the full game - I'm so happy they are dropping this for the summer cause everyone knows we need more friggin summer games!

On the development front, I'm going to go outside (gasp!) with Laura to hangout at the pool. I think the fresh air and a notebook will do some good to figuring how I can redirect shooter development to stay on track. Maybe I'll get some work in tonight and put something up. Maybe.


While this weekend was rocking fun and busy (thanks Mike and Theo!) I was able to sneak some work in on my game. So following some advice from Laura, I'm making sure to start introducing elements from my "design doc" early so I don't get to caught up in tech stuff or small demos the don't fit into the whole. This proto shows off the 'power' system that will hopefully be the core mechanic in my game.

All attacks take the form of powers. All powers cost some about of energy. You slowly regain energy but the best way to get it back is to use powers in conjunction with one another (this is NOT working in this proto).

WASD to move, Mouse to Aim, Left Mouse Button to fire. 1/2/3 to swap powers
Cheat with R to refill energy.

As always, stay tuned.

Shooterisms 0.0

So here is an early tech preview of my new shooter game. Use WASD to move the lil robot and mouse to aim. Press the left mouse button to fire and use 1 and 2 to switch between a 'gun' and 'twin-linked ultra lasers'. Download is on the right.

As always stay tuned.


On my quest to create something that for at least 5 minutes makes someone go "damn that was fun" I am going back to the lab. This time I've been spending a bit of time working on a new idea and this time taking some more effort into fleshing it out before hitting the code sauce to strong. I will go into a bit more later with a prototype but for now I'll tell you that it will be a top-down 2D arena-based shooter. What you are seeing in this pic is the first bit of tech I had to add - a special case emitter behavior that places particles along a path between 2 points (vs having them come out from one spot over time). This is the tracer bullet effect that most of the weapons in the game desperately need so I wanted to make sure that I could mod the current system to do so. It was a bit ugly but I was able to get the new behavior in without breaking anything (and opened up doors for stuff in the future). I don't feel I am a strong engine programmer but I am finding this system (on top of the oh-so-lovely xna) is going to allow me to get results.

As always, stay tuned.

The Accomplish has landed

So I hope everyone is enjoying their final long weekend day (well for this weekend). I'm about to head out to a bbq (which I think many people across the nation are doing the same) but I'd figured I'd stop and spend a few precious moments with you good people of the interweb.

This weekend was pretty good. I got to spend some good time with friends and family. I also got in a good amount of time on my side project that I cannot speak of (not in this venue) - trust me I hate it more then you hate it. Its so annoying. We have a large chunk of the tech done so now I get to work on adding those polish elements and using the tools under the engine to achieve something unique for this project. This is always my favorite part - getting to add those elements that almost immediately get through to the user. If I had my way, this is what I would want my specialty to be in the future.

Alpha Protocol comes out and midnight on Steam and I've already preloaded it. The word is very mixed but going from average to down right awful. I'm going to reserve judgment after I give it a whirl tonight. I hope its somewhat enjoyable - I haven't been a spy in a while...well actually never in terms of games.

Where I be at

I haven't posted in a while so I once again, here is where I be at: May 23rd Edition.

My birthday came this year like a shotgun full of snow and kicked my ass. It had to be the best bday I've ever had in my life - in fact we are changing that right now. It officially WAS the best bday every. The party, the friends, the gifts, and the awesomeness of my wife were just unbeatable. So thanks to everyone who made it just one hell of a day.

On the other side of things I haven't touched my flocking game since the last update. While that somewhat doesn't sit with me right I have been busy working on a project with a friend of mine and its coming along. This first project is sort of a test and if we can pull it off then we should have almost all the tech we need to make something good. The environment is not XNA so things tend to go a bit slower but I've come to the realization my XNA code is a great place to prototype ideas very fast before transferring them to our other code base. Once we get this first thing done, I'll probably start doing that more but sadly I have to keep our project under-wraps which normally I hate to do but that's how it is.

On the game side of things, I've been diving pretty head first into Mass Effect 2. I hated the first one but this one is winning me over. It still was kind of a slow burn but once I got into the flow of the games short side missions and found a class that suited me (go engineer!) I slid into the experience. Right now i'm burning through it while waiting for Alpha Protocol at end of the month.

Other then that, I just saw Stuff and Unstrung in NYC with the wife. Damn that is a good show and if you get a chance to see it, do so - you won't regret it.

War-y Improvements

Hi folk'lls

So I did that last post and didn't really explain it but I figured I'd give you the details now..or at least what details I have.

So Space Ballz has been fun to make. While the game isn't done I felt a desire to do something new. I moved some of the code that ran Ballz around and started work on this new project. So far I know I want it to be a Side-scrolling tower defense game of some kind. I want to have the hordes of enemies driven by 'ground-based flocking' and see what happens. These early protos will be tech demos initially and hopefully grow into something bigger.

To War!

Try out this extremely early tech demo for a new game idea I'm working on. (Link on the right side)


  • Use Arrow keys to guide army
  • Use WASD to move camera

Gone Zombie Huntin!

hell. yes.

Balancing Act! Proto 1.31

So this release has some touch ups

  • Increased hit box for ship
  • Increased turn speed for ship
  • Reduced 'patrol' radius for Roving Snatchers
  • Roving Snatchers will not come at you if you gotz no ballz
  • Tuned difficulty for a few existing levels and added a new level to introduce Stationary Snatchers
  • Only 4 levels are included now - the rest are left out until I can test em a bit
Thanks to Laura and Rob for some awesome feedback!

Snatchin on the Move! Proto 1.30!

So time for a new feature! Roving Snatchers are lil guys who guard sections of a level. Get to close and they will chase you while they are in their area. If they get you they will do just what a stationary Snatcher will do and eat your last ball and consume some time. Watch out!

My aim with the Rovers was to prevent you from getting stationary near a cannon. Hit me up with some feedback if you think these guys help round out the Space Ballz mechanics.


I'm downloading this right now (via Amazon's awesome MP3 service)


Buns in the Oven (not that kind of bun)

So there are a few cool things coming up on the horizon for me. I may be getting involved in as much as 2 projects with other people over the netz. As a result, work on Space Ballz may have to slow down a bit but I am going to try and stick on it. I like the game and with the recent changes to the core mechanics I really feel like its coming together. One new feature I started working on this weekend very lightly was a 'Roving Snatcher.' This guy will chase you and do what stationary snatchers do. I need to implement a raycasting through a uniform grid function tonight and then I should be set to show him off - now that I think about it there is a little more involved so maybe tomorrow night. The Roving Snatcher should make the game a bit more exciting seeing as there will be no more safe spots.

On top of that, I need to finish Dragon Age. I am at the ending act and its pretty damn exciting.

A Lesson from a Coyote and Finnegan

So this is a non-side project related all gaming nerd rant. Be warned!

Over this last week I've been getting back into L4D2, more specifically its Survival Mode feature. The new maps in L4d2 provide some pretty amazing set pieces for fights. The biggest feature to all of these maps is encouraging run'n'gun tactics which in several interviews with the designers for L4D2 seemed to be their goal - they were getting tired of players constantly lining up against a wall and basically clicking 'easy.' That wall of bullet tactics was completely valid in L4D - even if it was incredibly boring. L4D2 has made several changes to counter this. Reload times are longer, zombies are slightly harder to kill, spitters can knock the whole team out if they are jammed in a corner, etc. So if this is the case, why do players online believe that taking all the gas tanks, jamming them into a 2x2 room and holding their ground is a good idea? Does this look like a good idea?

No. Its not a good idea. The moment one of you hesitates, you are screwed. Now let look at some sage wisdom from the solid sea monster movie Deep Rising:

"I once saw a guy put a fish in a bottle. He corked it, sealed it tight, and threw it to a baby octopus. Now the octopus, he felt his way all around that bottle. In less than two minutes, he got the cork off, slid inside, and ate the fish. "

Now let me do a L4D2 re-write:

"I once saw a guy put [Survivors] in a bottle. He corked it, sealed it tight, and threw it to [Tank]. Now the [Tank], he felt his way all around that bottle. In less than two minutes, he got the cork off, slid inside, and ate the [Survivors]. "

Good night and good luck.

Percy Jackson

So I just finished the fifth and final (as of now) Percy Jackson book. I had never heard of the series until I saw the teaser for the movie. My initial thoughts were "damn that's a long title." So flash forward to the movies release and some co-worker were going to go see it. I mentioned that I had some passing interest in reading the book, especially cause I was being bogged down with overly 'adult' sci-fi that has lost almost all sense of adventure and fun - instead it would all amount to two men sitting in a room while one adjusts books...slightly to the left. So my friend bummed me the first one and I found it pretty entertaining. For those not in the know, Percy Jackson works almost exactly like Darksiders - you look at it and you think 'this is really cheesy and bad' then you find that you can't stop playing. The series moves an breakneck pace with just enough exposition being mixed with lots of insane action. I find myself wondering why some adventure games don't have a better flow like this.

Anyhoos, I highly recommend it. Put down the book about moving books slightly to the left. Instead read about a kid slashing through hundreds of ancient monsters - cause you know...that pretty fucking cool.


Still so damn good. This shit's like bbq - it's timeless.

Music Mountain! Proto 1.25

Not a slew of new features in this build but enough to warrant + 0.01

  • Brand spanking original new music by Mike Belotti!
  • Brand spanking original new level by Naveen Nattam! Wait! That's me!
  • Updated tutorial to reflect changes to game rules and added a new 'Snatcher' page
  • Removed resources (textures/sounds) that were no longer being used
The new level (nick named 'Typhon') is an attempt to present the user with 2 paths - the tunnel at the top is straight fast shot to the drop off point but forces you to fly past all the cannons. The other path (entrances on the left and right side) has no opposing balls but is filled with snatchers waiting to hit you with a snatch attack. Tell me if you think this idea gets through - or totally falls on its ass.

Snatch Attack! Proto 1.24

Ladies and gents! Step right up to try a new proto that may shock and awe you...or leave you frustrated! You tell me!

  • Core rules changed: If you collide with a ball that doesn't match your chain, you no longer lose the whole chain. Instead only the last ball in the chain is lost but you also lose a bit of time! To sum up, Bad Ballz will no longer cause you to lose whole chain - just 1 ball and time!
  • Snatchers! These floating monster teeth will steal your last ball and some time! Avoid them!
  • One new level to show off the snatchers.
Okay folk'lls I made some big changes to please tell me what you think!

Slanty Shanty! Proto 1.23

Check it people!

  • New slanted tiles, perfect for making rebounding balls even more painful
  • new level showing off slanted madness

The ever chaning ways of the game enthusiast

While I prefer some genre's to others and I do enjoy certain settings more then others, I find that my interests at the moment are constantly cycling as a game player. Here is a good example: I bought Dragon Age in January thirsting for an Tactical RPG - something I hadn't really played in awhile. DA was a great success in my mind and I was seeing the rest of my games fall to the wayside. I became increasingly excited by DA:Awakening that was coming in March. It seemed that this game would just never stop going for me. To top it off, Dawn of War 2's expansion pack was coming at the same time I was going to be overflowing in awesome tactical combat games but what I always fail to predict is that by the release of both expansions, my interest in tactical games was getting lower and lower. So now, even though Dawn of War 2 : Chaos Rising and DA:Awakening just released, I opted to buy Bioshock 2 (downloading right now) to do something a little different. I'm very much craving a fast paced shooter and I know that if I try to keep playing DA and DoW2, I'll just kick em aside for way to long.

Also waiting to get some feedback on Space Ballz before I get back on the horse there. So until then, send all messages to Rapture.

The Hammer! Proto 1.22

This is a small update to a degree:

  • 3 new Chain 5/10/15/X sounds have been added. These were provided by Theo Christensen and with some edits by Mike Belotti. Thanks guys! I'm hoping they can crank out some more sounds/music!
  • A new level (called 'Hammer') which is now second in the rotation. This level shows off a bit more of the potential madness.
  • A small fix to the scaling affecting the HUD when you move the mouse wheel
Enjoy! If you think of ways to make the drop off points more maddening, please SHARE!

Hot Fix! Proto 1.21

There was a nasty little bug in 1.2 that had your ballz auto drop off when the timer ran out. That sort of broke the new mechanic so I just removed it in 1.21.

Rules of the Game! Proto 1.2

Enclosed in the newest release you will find the nature of Ballz in Space (also known as Space Ballz) has been changed. Please give the tutorial a proper look-see!

  • Right Clickin has been disabled - instead you now cash in ballz by running into a big floating D (aka a Drop Off Point). This will require you to dodge other ballz on your way back to a Drop Off Point
Mikey B has pointed out to me that no matter what, you can always park your ship near a cannon, wait for your color, snag it, then right click to win. With the drop off points, you are now forced to fly back to D while dodging un-needed ballz.

Tell me what you think! I'm hoping to keep this in the game - it makes level design MUCH more interesting.

Tighten the graphics, Proto 1.0

This build mostly has clean up issues

  • Updated the last page in the tutorial to reflect the HUD changes
  • Cleaned up the cannon firing sequence so its a bit tighter
  • Added a flashing 'warning' on the cannon that will indicate what color ball the cannon will fire.
  • Removed the "now playing..." screen so you just go straight to the next level
  • Rejiggered levels 1-3 so they spawn more ballz.
Now that I've added my lil polish elements, its time to get back and get those levels just the right kind of jiggy. Once we have a working set, the next modifications will be a main menu, level selection, and stats on each level - rounding out the game experience. Then to ALPHA!

0.99 Fixed


0.99 Broken

I think the download link to Proto 0.99 is busted. I'll fix it tonight!

Keep your HUD on! Proto 0.99

Bless the wife for she puts up with my addiction to work on the ballz filled game! So I can't talk to much right now but I did a total 180 on the hud and redesigned it. Take a look and tell me if you can spot the differences!

Ace of Chain! Proto 0.98

Because I have way to much fun doing it, I added another effect. Whenever you get an increment of 5 on your chain (5,10,15..) you are rewarded with a little flashing text that pops and poops stars all over the damn place. Oh and turn up your speakers and you'll get the title of the post :)

Cause that's the way I like it like it!

Troubled? Let the Tutorial Help! Proto 0.95!

Some kind of bolt has struck my Space Ballz brain and I'm now driven to working on the game again full steam. This update contains the long overdue tutorial slide show. Its simple now but I'm hoping to improve it.

Mike Balz threw down some great points on what makes a good Space Ballz level and I'm going to take his advice to heart and tweak the hell out of some of the existing levels. This build contains a preview of that tweaking with the revised first level (still called "Level 2"). Whats new? MORE BALLZ! Mike made a great point that having a lot of objects to avoid is what makes the game exciting - so while only 1 level has been tweaked in this direction..more will come. MORE BALLZ!

Winnneeeeer! Space Ballz Proto 0.9

So I've been finding that if I get frustrated with what to do next for the game, I should work on effects to help polish whats there. So along with working on the levels, I decided upgrade the games win/lose screens. Take a peek! If you don't want to win or simply can't lose, use N (for win) and L (for lose) to see what happens.

I also removed levels 1 and 3 due to intense suckage. Coming next will be some better levels (hopefully) and a proper visual tutorial.

Enjoy and hit me with feedback!

In the mean time

I've musing over the levels I made. As my buddy (and major contributing artist to Space Ballz) Mike put it: I wanted to shoot myself while playing it. I'm spending free time here and there working on coming up with what makes a level 'fun' in Space Ballz. I think its about avoidance and choosing carefully how to spend your time. If a level has really no need for either of these, its pretty much sh**. I think I'll take this approach first when re-tuning and coming up with new ones.

So in the mean time I've been playing a ton of Dragon Age but tonight I decided to change it up and play some L4D2. Normally I enable a friends-only campaign but I decided to throw caution to wind and turn on public settings. Damn dude. I forgot how much fun this game is.

Space Ballz! Proto 0.8

So the new stuff here is "transitions" between screens in the game but also 5 new levels that are about easing players into the experience. I added some additional tuning options like limiting the types of balls that can be launched in a stage (so only green for example). The new levels are not particularly balanced. If you have some feedback for how they could be more exciting, etc please let me know!


Using some of the renderable actions I added a new transition effect between "states" of the game. So now the game will fade to black between screens and hopefully not be as jaring.

More to come (this version is not available on the side)!

Space Ballz stuff coming soon!

So if I can peel myself away from Dragon Age - which the sheer addictiveness it brings kicks in my guilty "need to do hobby coding" device - I am planning on releasing some updates. The first release I hope will bring some greater clarity to how to play the game. To solve this, I've going to add a small slide show to the begging that will show you how the game is intended to be played. Second, I am going to try and create at least 3-4 levels that ramp up slowly and will go from "stay here and get all the balls" to "dive, duck, dip, dodge to get all the balls." I also want to add a strong level transition - probably fade to black then fade back in to help players get a stronger idea that they are switching levels.

With those features in, I will then move forward with possibly adding new gameplay elements.


I may despise myself sometimes. I may think I've hit rock bottom. I may think I've really wasted every chance everyone has given me.

Then I take a moment, step back, look at it all, and realize how f***ing lucky I really am.

A Clean Plate

I love the feeling of a freshly formatted computer


While I don't have a ton of time to get into it right now, I was able to take advantage of the dreaded snow storm that massacred the east coast and get some work done on Space Ballz.

My TODO list has be re-arranged so that I stop adding features and instead fix what I already have. This comes into flavors: a proper tutorial or series of intro slides telling you how to play the game and also modifying the existing set of levels to ramp up and not just be a wide spread of what could possibly be. To help achieve the latter, I worked on some better editing features to the Tile Editor. I can now drag select whole areas and paint them and also move groups of tiles - this is particularly useful when adjusting 'tunnels'. My hope is to use the new feature to produce more levels to play with (since before it was just a massive chore to construct them).

So just that for now. The tool isn't really designed for you fine folks so this is nothing you will see but I wanted to let it be known that I haven't stopped production.

Space Ballz 0.7 - Return of the Profile

A little early programming for the weekend brings gifts of Profiles!

While not giving the user a way to make a profile, the game will now track you best time/chain per level. You need to beat the level to have any of the progress count - I may change that later. Give it a go and see if you can get some big ass chains and have a good weekend!

Space Ballz 0.6 - Behold Drop Shadows

This update isn't a whole lot of new stuff - more just evidence that I am working on the game again!

What we've got here is a couple of new fangled things

  • Drop Shadows! Behold their drop shadow glory!
  • Updated hud with some new data including the level name and place holders for Max Chain and Record set Chain/Time for the current level
  • Fang-dangled new Score particle and Bad Ballz Particle effects (now with Drop Shadows)!
  • Faster ball breaking time so you can get back to doing what you do best - smacking ballz!
  • Pressing spacebar will now dump that 1 ball you have (counts as a bad ballz) - useful when you've grabbed a color that is not appearing at the moment
  • Rounded Tiles! Mikey B has gone above and beyond again. These awesome tiles give what is a harsh tile-y world a smooth hump that is awesome to smack your ballz against.
Thats pretty much it. I'm still working on the profile system but I thought this was fancy so I wanted to share it.

More to keep watching the skees.....I mean skies.

Ending the AFK

Dear Diary, its been so long! How are you!?


Yeah we are not doing that. So I apologize for the intense amount of lateness. Many a thing has held me from posting personal stuff and hobby work stuff. After the last release (0.5) I decided to take a break for a bit to figure out what I needed to do on the game as well just take a small break to not overwork myself on it. I picked up Dragon Age which took me forver to get into (I have never been a fan of Bioware games). After the third restart and with a little advice on a better character build to match my playstyle, I can say with no hesitation that this is truly one the best RPGs I've played in a long time. With most heavy-story based games I need to get through 2 things before I will care about it: The world/theme needs to be somewhat interesting and the game mechanics need to be engaging (in the case of DA, the combat). Once I can get past those two then I will listen to any story you will tell me. I rarely will play a game "just for teh story." Dragon Age got me with the bloody fantasy approach and then hit me with the tactical combat (appealing to the RTS fan in me). At this point I started to absorb the story and characters. When I see how awesome Allistar is in combat and how many times he has saved my party, I will listen to his witty banter for all day. When my dog knocks down a evil rogue who almost backstabbed me, I'll sit through his little cutscene.

So Dragon Age, you got me. Its like being in an awesome television where I hack the limbs from evil doers and lift zombie sieges. Tune in next week where I storm a castle and murder demons.

On a side note, I will begin work on a profile system for Space Ballz that will lead into showing some best times / chains on the HUD. Once that is done I'll tweak some existing levels to make them a little more engaging. Look forward to that demo hopefully by the end of the week.

Lack of work

With Dragon Age and Darksiders being better then expected...I am feeling very lazy. I promise : Profile system soon!

Space Ballz 0.5 in 2010

Note! The installer has changed to a more normal one that will let you pick where you want to install the game. Before installation is over, it will prompt you to install the XNA framework. This is needed for the game to run! You only have to do it once though - you can hit cancel if you know you already have it installed. Please uninstall previous versions through Add/Remove programs in the control panel (the new version will now have an uninstall option in the Start Menu Folder Space Ballz).

So several big changes await all who enter!

  • Brank spanking new HUD - while still not finished Senor Micheal Balzercak has done some damn fine work indeed.
  • New background art including a transparent grid to tie everything together
  • Auto Cash in - when the timer runs out, your chain will automatically be cashed in for points then the game will decide if you win/lose
  • Frenzy Mode - notice the number on the right hand side? Each time you make a match it will go up then slowly tick down. Keep the meter up and get it to 1.0 and the game will enter Frenzy Mode (pictured above). All matches for the next 25 seconds will be worth triple points!
  • Removed breaking chain with only 1 ball (may add back later with a different key press)
So maybe its not a huge set of changes, but I did move some code around for future work. Some changes coming down the road will include Best Time / Chain per level that will be saved using a profile system. You won't be able to create one but there will be a default one to challenge yourself with (creating/removing profiles will come even later down the road).

Once again, thanks to everyone for their tremendous support! You keep playing, I'll keep making!