Iteration and Smashing Zombies

Again, its been an awful long time. So lets not get into apologies - lets just get to it.

Gunstringer wrapped production in July and was definitely a incredible learning experience. TPG is a small company and therefore everyone needs to be more responsible - we don't have a vast QA team that will notice all the possible problems. I've been a bit spoiled working at companies with dedicated teams where you just get used to the habit of the 'various combinations' falling on their plate. When you get something or set of features done - you need to run them through the ringer, especially at the end of the project.

We have started work on our next game and its been very exciting. Since its so early we don't have to tiptoe with changes but we are also faced with figuring out everything from scratch. This part is both awesome and frustrating. I'm learning that iteration comes in many forms. The first kind is setting off with a decent idea - you know what you are aiming for and you have formed a foundation to start. This can be challenging when failure comes up but since you have a base, you know you simply need to adjust your aim. Having no initial idea is where iteration starts to get frustrating quickly. You hit a wall and essentially have to erase everything and start over. After about 30 tries - you start to lose faith that you will ever be able to get it. Its at these times you need to take a deep breath and realize you will cause you didn't stop at the first try. I have to remind myself about this a lot.

As for personal things, I've been playing the hell out of Dead Island. The game starts good then quickly gets weak but then comes roaring back stronger then ever. This game suffers from a lot of problems that Borderlands did. It has a great core mechanic but fails to capitalize on it at a constant rate. I'm at a point now in the game where I'm hard pressed to put it down. My friend Adam and myself have been doing a whole mess of co-op and it works very well.

I have worked out a loose 'game budget' with Laura where I try to stick to 50-60 bucks a month. There are some awesome budget titles coming out this month (Payday, Dungeon Defenders) along with big titles like Rage. So now the decision this month is blow it all on Rage which will be the first title for my buddy Grant Shonkwiler.

So much to do, so much to play.

Time to get Twisted

I know its been an awfully long time since I've posted but nights before travel are nights for getting things out of the way. So its time to get this out of the way!

Back in January I accepted a job at Twisted Pixel Games in Austin, Texas. For those of you that don't know of them, Twisted Pixel is an indie outfit that primarly makes games for XBLA - so basically its time for me step up my game and make some real damn games. Laura and I are in the middle of rearranging our lives. She will be staying in NJ till about July. I have been in Austin since the very end of March.

So far work has been a mixed bag of awesome and maximum nerves. My co-workers are extremely nice and very friendly but they are also incredibly talented. I'm still in the early phase of feeling very dumb and seemingly forgetting my basic training. This phase is a mixed bag of trusting your instincts, thinking about old tricks, and studying the logic behind new ones. I am hoping sometime next month I'll calm down a bit and get more comfortable. I've already gotten my hands dirty and gotten to work on a few small bugs and one small feature. I've been able to get them all done but I feel like I'm still getting a bit to much help or not moving fast enough.

It may sound like I'm miserable but really I'm smiling internally - this is the challenge I wanted. To prove myself to a very skilled group and to myself that I am capable of making games.

Combo Storm has been put on a full hiatus until I'm fully comfy with work. I will probably be putting in some extra time to study some stuff here and there. I'll report more on the status of the game in May.

So consider this me hitting the pause button on the Sideprojectism. It will return, just in a bit.

Alpha 0.23- Lets Have a Bloody Good Time

Yo ho internet pirates! Presented above is a clip of the new Alpha 0.23 build (over on the right there). This build has a few new features:

  • Amazing health feedback by Mike Balcerzak - he has really gone above and beyond on this one.
  • Totally revised Combo System that allows you to gain a ton more combos. Its way cleaner and allows for more control on my end to create better combos.
  • A new player character provided by Ryan Ellis. Mike is working on an animated one but I figured this was way better then the current crap player graphic (that I made of course).
  • Tuned zombies down so they don't hit as hard (more to come on the balance stuff)
  • Allow you fire all weapons at the same time - buttons won't interrupt each other

Alpha 0.2 - Lets go shopping!

So the latest build has the first rev of the Store in Combo Storm. I've been itching to add this but also fearful of how much would be involved. Fortunately a friend of mine (Ryan Ellis) gave me some solid advice on how to approach it for the first run and I was able to squeeze out on a snow day from work.

In Combo Storm, when you perform combos the weapons involved receive points and will eventually upgrade. Originally there were 3 upgrades per weapon (except gas can). Each time you start the a level you lose all your upgrades and need to start over. The store adds a new dimension to that.

You earn cash when playing (the little orbs that fall of guys who have had combos performed on them). That cash can be used in the store to upgrade 2 things: Max Upgrade Level and Base Upgrade Level. By increasing the max, you can access higher upgrades via combos. By increasing the Base, you can make a weapon permanently upgraded. Base upgrades are much more expensive so if you are a skilled player you can work on increasing the max and earn them during levels.

At this point I am going to take some time and start really balancing the game. Hopefully in a week or so from now I'll have a new build that is a lot more fun and easier to get into.

Alpha 0.192 - Small Improvements

This build has several small improvements over this weekends work. Coin attraction is vastly improved and I added an icon for the Power Fist to the HUD.

Alpha 0.191 - Extra Help

This is a quick update that has improved How To section. A page has been added that shows the movement slowdown effect.

Alpha 0.19 - COINSZ!

Alpha 0.182 - Fists of Fury

Added 2 upgrade levels to the Power Fist. You get CHAIN FIST! You can actually keep steering the power fist after you trigger it.

Alpha 0.181 - Foot Fist Way!

The power fist can be activated by pressing 'F'. Its way overpowered right now so I will be balancing it as I go.

Lies and Boulderdash

I have been saying for sometime that I would be making a vast amount of content to test Combo Storm on but this simply ain't happening. Mike Balz caught got a hold of me and told me that this was the wrong way to go. He felt the game was flat out missing features that are breaking the game in its current state. So to go along with Mike here is whats coming up instead:


This is where you will be able to select what weapon load out you want to play with. New weapons will be unlockable by spending cash earned in the arena.

To fuel the store as well as add a whole new layer to the game, enemies will now drop cash when they die. The better the combo that kills them, the more cash they drop. Cash will gravitate towards the player as long as he is within reach. The hope is that this will create a need for players to not just run away from enemies. I also feel this will really help the Combo Storm feel like an official 'game'.

Mike has been on me about this forever. The melee attack will be something to help you out in dire circumstances. Right now the plan is to add it as a throwback that will help push and stun attackers but I want to try playing around with a saber-made-of-light or chainsaw that will do intense damage but be crazy close range.

These are the next updates. I think I will start with cash/melee and then work on the store that will require a ton of design work.

Alpha 0.177

Small update again. Before setting out to make content I realized adding the pause menu would help encourage people not to shoot me. The escape used to quit you out the main menu automatically. Now it will trigger a simple pause menu that you can choose to quit or resume.