Archive for the ‘Dehoarder’ Category

Whither Prior Games?

posted by Duke
Nov 11

Today I wanted to talk a bit about my plan for my back catalog of games. It’s great to have a history of games, but sometimes measures must be taken to reduce costs and consolidate brand power. If you are a fan of Smiling Cat games, please read as the below may affect how you enjoy those games. My players are important. If you will be negatively impacted, please comment and let me know.

TLDR;

  • EARL’s Warehouse and possibly Chroma Invader to get free Windows releases.
  • Retiring from Kongregate and GameJolt coterminous with these Windows releases.
  • Thrust or Bust and Snowflake support to be discontinued at that time as well (and Chroma Invader invader if it does not get a Windows release).
  • Considering Dropping iOS support.

Web Player Games

Unity Web Player died long ago, a casualty in the war against insecure browser plugin technologies. Unfortunately, I have 4 games that I have released exclusively on the Unity Web Player platform (ordered by how awesome I think the game is):

  1. EARL’s Warehouse
  2. Chroma Invader
  3. Thrust or Bust
  4. Snowflake

EARL’s Warehouse is a project that I’m particularly proud of. This game has a lot going for it, both gameplay-wise with its interesting puzzle mechanics, and technically with its home-rolled voxel engine that actually performs well in Unity. EARL’s Warehouse also highlights what was so awesome about the Unity Web Player’s performance – in some areas (the penultimate level of The Depot specifically) it was pushing over 1 million triangles per frame, through a web browser, in 2013.

Chroma Invader Screenshot 6Chroma Invader was a quick project that was my take on the quarter-eating days of the early “wave progression” arcade games. This was my second game, and it was the first game of mine to earn any sort of recognition, picking up “Browser Pick of the Week” honors from the now-defunct diygamer.com site back in December of 2010.

Thrust or Bust will always hold a special place in my heart as my first game release, back when my doe-y eyed dumb ass thought that all I had to do was build it and they would come. Its flaws are apparent to me today, but it was a very ambitious first effort, much larger than it should have been for my first game.

Snowflake was kind of a psuedo-jam game, created over a long holiday weekend. If you haven’t played it, don’t bother; it’s not particularly good by any measure.

I have Windows builds of all of these games except Snowflake. My current thinking is to release the Windows build of EARL’s Warehouse as a free download in the run-up to the release of Dehoarder 2. I’m not entirely sure about Chroma Invader, but I might release the Windows build of that game, too. Unless there is someone who really MUST have Thrust Or Bust, though, I was going to retire that title. Forget about Snowflake, it is being retired; it would be too much effort to bring the project from what was probably Unity 2 all the way up to Unity 2017 just to create a new build of what I consistently rank as my worst game.

In addition to these Unity Web Player exclusive titles, I also have Unity Web Player versions of my first 4 Ludum Dare entries (Dehoarder, City Beneath the Surface, Dirty Fork, and Werepenguin’s Escape). These have always been available as downloads for Windows, so I have much less concern there.

Most/all browsers now refuse to load Unity Web Player unless you hold your mouth a certain way, if even that. Given that, I think that my game pages on Kongregate and GameJolt aren’t doing anyone much good any more. When the Windows releases of EARL’s Warehouse and Chroma Invader are made available, I will be retiring all Unity Web Player content from Kongregate and GameJolt.

If I have any Mac/Linux users who are still enjoying these games on Kongregate or GameJolt, I want to hear from you! Unless I know that there is some demand for Mac/Linux builds of my current Unity Web Player content, I won’t feel that it is worth my limited time to target these platforms.

Mobile Games

Currently I have 3 titles available on mobile:

Vintage Pachinko
Breaking Block
Prepare for Warp

My biggest problem overall on mobile is iOS. With the release of 64-bit, I do not have 64-bit builds of any of these games anywhere near ready. These titles were all created in the days of Unity 4, so they are several versions behind, and I know at the very least that Vintage Pachinko requires some effort to work with the newest version of Unity. In addition, as someone who lives primarily in the Windows world, developing for iOS is a huge pain. It requires me to maintain a separate Mac computer, which never gets turned on unless I’m creating a iOS build of an app, which means that it always needs hours and hours of updates and upgrades before I can even start being productive.

Prepare for Warp was delisted by Apple earlier this year seemingly because it simply hadn’t had an update in a long time. It didn’t have a history of crashes or any complaints that I received, but I got a nastygram all the same that said update or else without outlining anything that specifically needed to be updated. I’m not happy about that, but nor am I going to create updates for the hell of it when I have nothing of value to deliver, especially for my least popular mobile title. That’s insanity. Breaking Block is probably next.

Also weighing heavily is the fact that iOS sales are not even covering the developer program fee at this point. We’re far enough down the long tail of these titles that the revenue is approaching zero. They were never making me rich, but at least they used to pay to keep themselves going and then a bit more.

Because of issues like these and the distraction that they create for my current development, I’m seriously considering pulling out of the iOS market entirely, though I haven’t come to a final decision on that yet. If I don’t pull out of iOS, I will require a few weeks away from Dehoarder 2 in order to update my entire catalog in one big push. Hearing from those of you who want to continue to see these apps on iOS will certainly sway my decision. My final decision will probably be made in February when my annual tribute of $99 to Apple is due.

If I do let my Developer Program subscription lapse, the net effect is that my apps would no longer be available for download through the AppStore, but would continue to function on devices on which they were already installed.

I have no complaints about the Android environment, and as long as they continue to make my life easy I will maintain the Android/Play Store versions of these apps.

Full Steam Ahead with Dehoarder 2

Of course, my immediate future platform-wise lies with Steam. Dehoarder 2 at the very least will be on Steam, and probably several project after that. The future is difficult to predict, however, as the above clean-up plan shows.

Speaking of Dehoarder 2, I just received the latest batch of models from Arvex, and will be working today to integrate them into the game. With this latest delivery, we have just one more batch to go, and then I think the object set for the game’s release can be finalized.



Not So Flat Now One of the funniest Let’s Play quips I’ve heard about Dehoarder comes from when capnduck is staring out the window, looking at that horrid green, flat ground and default blue cloudless sky. “The Netherlands […] is flatter than ever today,” the line goes.

It’s a fair cop. In the throes of the Ludum Dare competition, I paid as little attention as possible to the surroundings of the “house” as possible. Since it wasn’t important to gameplay, I just used a simple green cube for the entire game world to sit on.

With Dehoarder 2, that changes. Starting with the engine from Dehoarder 1, the first changes are some cosmetic improvements. Terrain and skybox is in place. Some more terrain variety and trees and other outdoor decor are yet to come, though it’s amazing how much just this little does.

1st Floor RoughI have a rough draft of the first floor of the house in place. I always wanted the game to span more than one room, there just wasn’t enough time in the competition. In Dehoarder 2, I have plans for at least 8 rooms, counting the yard as a “room”. Here you can see an editor’s-eye view the original game taking place in the front room of the house, with more rooms behind and a garage to the side.

While some junk placement will be random, there will be far more strategic junk placement in Dehoarder 2, now that there is time for proper level design. Piles of high-willpower junk will block access to key areas. Story will play a role as well, with the main character’s self improvement driving the plot and progress through the house.

Other planned features include more varied challenges (beyond the collect x item in y time variety), bursting closets, more types of vermin, many more types of junk, and an improved building inspection system.


Breaking Block is RTM

posted by Duke
Jun 28

Planet Level Today I put the last of the finishing touches on Breaking Block, ensured one last time that everything is in good working order on both platforms, and submitted to the Appstore for approval. I’m actually a couple of days late with this, so I’m hoping that since this is my third Appstore game, the approval process will be quick. The Android side of things is all ready to go.

Now, I am at a crossroads. There are several viable projects that I could choose take up next. I still have more ideas for mobile games, however, Steam has also caught my attention and I have a couple of game ideas that would work really well there. Whichever way I go, I’d like to have something to show in time for OGDE in October.

Here is my short list of potential projects, in no particular order:

  • A 2.5D, tiled 3rd-person puzzle game for mobile platforms
  • A vocabulary/word puzzle game for mobile platforms
  • A tycoon-style sim/builder for Steam/PC (including Steam Early Access)
  • Dungeon’s Fortune – An episodic JRPG for Steam/PC with procedurally generated dungeons
  • Dehoarder 2 – First person decluttering mayhem (Yes, I’ve noticed that y’all are still talking about the original game!)

As you can see, this is enough work to keep me busy for at least the next 3 years. If you have any thoughts as to which project I should work on next, please let me know! I’ll be deciding in the next couple of weeks.



Listen as the folks at Multivarious Games discuss several games by Smiling Cat Entertainment, including both Ludum Dare entries Dehoarder and City Beneath the Surface, as well as EARL’s Warehouse.

Thanks for the shout out, WMVG, I really appreciate it!

For the impatient, the bits regarding Smiling Cat run from 28:10 to 34:30, but you should really listen to the entire podcast as WMVG is a great group of game developers.


2014

posted by Duke
Jan 4

2014 is now upon us, and the time soon comes to make more great games.

I have been more absent from Smiling Cat than expected, due to some family circumstances over the past couple of months. I don’t want to go into details, suffice to say that things have been so crazy that I have not even had time to post any sort of follow up from the game expo. Wait, that was less than a month ago? To Gill and I, it seems like ages past.

20131207_140218_720The Ohio Game Dev Expo was really awesome. It was great being there with everybody, and meeting lots of new folks looking to help create a gaming industry here in Ohio. My fleet of tablets got an extensive workout from everyone taking a turn trying out Prepare for Warp, and I received lots of positive feedback about the game. The booth was a big hit, as Phil from Dioram Games put it, it was the “most pimped out booth” in the expo. Hopefully I have inspired others to “go big” next year.

20131207_140221_720And it seems there definitely will be a next year. The attendance numbers were far better than we ever could have hoped for in a first-year expo. Talking with the organizers, we estimated that there were anywhere between 500 and 750 attendees, and all 30-odd showcase spaces were occupied; even the one that had a last-minute cancellation was re-booked. Hats off to all of the staff, especially Steve Castro, Chris Volpe, and Wesley Adams, who all went far above and beyond to make sure this was the best expo possible. They even secured some coffee for my wife when we arrived and found coffee to be strangely scarce at 7am in the OSU Student Union. As far as I could tell, everything was executed flawlessly.

OGDE 2013 Expo Booth SideHere you can see the Smiling Cat booth in all of its glory. The first shot is a side view. As a sponsor, we were in one of the larger showcase areas near the stage. As you walked down the rightmost aisle, right in front of you at the end of the aisle was a three-foot-high smiling cat head. It was really awesome.

20131207_094946_720The second photo shows inside of the booth itself, on the left are the Android demo tablets for the mobile showcase, in the back is the PC showcase kiosk, and the table in the front had most of the literature and swag. This was definitely a step up from our table at GMX earlier this year, and I hope to get many years of use out of this setup. I got a big surprise later in the day. The manager of my department in my day job was at the Union for another event, and stopped by my booth! He was very impressed by the setup.

So, lots of big plans for 2014 to follow on the successes of 2013. Vintage Pachinko has been resurgent in the past month, and there are plans for some enhancements to that plus a strong possibility of a second pachinko game featuring a more modern “fever” pachinko machine. Dehoarder has also been a pretty big success. It is my most played game on Kongregate, so it is highly likely that there will be a follow-up for that as well. Unlike the Earl’s Warehouse expansion, the Dehoarder upgrade is more likely to be a sequel.

Also, I plan to bring my growing mobile library of games to the iOS platform this year, as this has been a number one query at both the expo and at the COGG prototype and play events.

Finally, I hope to release a couple of new mobile titles this year. I’d like to release at least one free mobile title, and use it as a platform to market my paid mobile games, as well as possibly incorporating some form of minimally-intrusive external advertising. What form these new mobile titles will take is anyone’s guess, as I still don’t know.

It will probably be a couple more weeks before matters in my personal life fully settle out and allow me to resume moving at full speed on Smiling Cat. Once that happens, this blog will be back to regular weekly updates.



It’s a bit unusual for me to post a mid-week update. I felt the situation deserved it, though, as there have been a couple of very interesting developments.

This weekend, I started noticing a phenomenon: Dehoarder’s play count on Kongregate suddenly started surging. Likewise, it’s Kongregate star rating had increased by 0.2. Intrigued, I pulled up my trusty Google search page, and sure enough, it seems that people are really talking about Dehoarder.

First, there was this video playthrough and review from IndieImpressions. Really awesome stuff!

Next, I found out that CNET Australia’s Michelle Star had also written a review of Dehoarder.

There is also this rather humorous playthrough and commentary that comes to us from the Netherlands by captnduck. I about lol’d my pants when I watched this:

In addition, I also found this German-language review from pixelpunsch.

The reviews started appearing on Friday, and seemed to continue into Saturday. That certainly explained the extra traffic that Dehoarder had been seeing!

This hubbub around Dehoarder is most excellent, and is a bit unexpected, being almost three months on from Dehoarder’s release. Anyhow, I hope all of the new players are enjoying Dehoarder; judging from the jump in rating, it seems that most of them are.

Of course, every yin must have a yang. After Googling Dehoarder to see what was up, I decided to go ahead with a Google review of all of my copyrights and trademarks, which I do from time to time. I was a bit disappointed, though not entirely unsurprised, to find some piracy activity surrounding Vintage Pachinko.

I knew that someday I would have to face this, and I know full well that it cannot be completely stopped, only slowed. I don’t hold to the extreme view that every pirated copy is a lost sale. Many users of pirated software would have otherwise gone without, rather than pay for licensed software. I also know that some brand exposure through pirated goods can have an overall positive effect on a brand. However, I also feel that I deserve to be the benefactor of my labor when I choose to put a price on one of my hard-wrought products, especially when I have been very generous in my free-to-play game lineup.

Also, my understanding of the law is that I must do what I can to defend against all infringement known to me, or else I waive my right to defend against future (and possibly more egregious) infringement. So, I filed my takedown notices with the hosting site, and to their credit, the offending files were removed within two hours. I also reached out to the offender, nothing official or legal, just a friendly request explaining that these actions cause harm, and asking that no further infringement occur.

Whew! That all happened yesterday, both discovering the reviews of Dehoarder, and discovering the piracy of Vintage Pachinko. It was quite unexpected, and watching the videos of Dehoarder was very exciting. Be sure to check them out!

Video Playthrough and Review from IndieImpressions
captnduck Shows Off His Battlestation


May 25

Yes, the robot-launching cannons I referred to on Twitter are a reality. Here is a screenie of EARL breaking through a glass ceiling after being shot out of one of these cannons:

Other than that, this will have to be a short update this week, so that I can prep my laptop and make my way to the COGG meetup. 4.5 levels total have been roughed out for The Depot so far. I might get a chance to work on more Monday, or I might just relax for the holiday weekend. We’ll see. Interesting and exciting things seem to be starting to happen with Vintage Pachinko. It’s nothing I can talk about yet, as I don’t really have any details yet myself.
Also, the Ludum Dare results are in! I managed to place in the top 10% in both the Humor and Innovation categories. I regard this as a great success, better than my expectations for a 48-hour game. I also placed in the top 20% in 3 other categories: Graphics, Mood, and Overall. I’m surprised by the graphics nod, but I will take it. I placed above median in all remaining categories, so overall, I think I did great for my first Ludum Dare categories. My best category was Humor, in which I placed 118th out of 1610 entries.
Hopefully I’ll be making another update next week, with even more cannon!


May 11

Right now I am very stoked about a lot of things. Where to even start?

One really awesome thing is that CodenameCrab has posted the first ever fan-made YouTube footage of one of my games, Dehoarder:

I love it! This is just part of the very positive response that I’ve received for Dehoarder on the Ludum Dare site. Judging is still ongoing for the next 9 days, and I’m waiting in anticipation to see the results.

EARL’s Warehouse has surpassed both the 3.5 star rating and 1,000 play milestones. I’m excited to see that there is a steady stream of interest in this game, so planning is underway for the first expansion to the game, including some suggested updates. So far, I plan to update the control scheme to allow for keyboard-only and gamepad support, improve the level selection screen to make levels beyond the first twelve more discoverable, and include a new block of 12 puzzles (plus one bonus puzzle) with a continuation to the story of EARL. I have a gut feel for when I want to accomplish this by, but I will keep that under my hat until I am more confident of a release date.

I have had a request for a level editor for EARL’s Warehouse at this point, so I will need to start considering how I am going to accomplish that. I do have a level editor that I use internally, but it is very much a bare-wires-exposed, don’t-touch-that-or-you’ll-break-it, fits-the-creator’s-need-and-not-one-iota-more type of tool. I’m also in the process of extracting all of that into my Voxel Engine product that I plan to release on the Unity Asset Store.

Vintage Pachinko has seen modest sales so far, and very strong ratings. It seems to be catching on slowly but surely. Thank you to everyone in my extended support network who is helping to get Vintage Pachinko noticed by downloading and rating the game! Update 1.1 is now available which includes a user-requested feature for an in-app mute setting.

I’ve had multiple requests to add more machines to the game. This is definitely something that I am considering should sales continue to heat up. I also have the seeds of an idea for an additional play mode, where special rules apply.

It’s a lot to think about, with three games actively being played, and all having ample opportunity for improvement. It’s also a very good problem to have. The next few weeks should be very exciting.


Apr 30

This past weekend, I took part in the Ludum Dare 48-hour Compo. For those unfamiliar, The Ludum Dare Compo is a competition where you try to make the best game possible given a theme within 48 hours.

How is it possible to make a game in 2 days? With very careful planning and very deliberate execution. Your game idea has to be very limited in scope, yet fun to play. It is an experience that I would recommend to any journeyman game developer. You will quickly learn what is important in making a game if you are to succeed.

The theme for this Ludum Dare was Minimalism, which confounded me at first, because Ludum Dare is already all about minimalism. I wanted my game to stand out as actually using the theme in an interesting way. So in my research, I stumbled upon many articles about minimal lifestyles, and from there, my brain ideated that into a game about minimalizing your character’s lifestyle by reducing a hoard of clutter.

The gameplay somewhat resembles Katamari, where you must pick up lesser items before moving on to bigger items. The game actually turned out quite well and has been well received by the Ludum Dare community. I even managed to finish it early on Sunday, well before the 10pm deadline.

If you’d like, you can check out this new game, Dehoarder, on Kongregate as usual.

While I did not blog here while I was participating in the Compo, I did make several blog entries on the Ludum Dare site for posterity. For more details on how the project went, you can see my Ludum Dare Journal, and also check out my entry page.

Also, Look for an announcement in the coming days about the release of Vintage Pachinko. It is finally about to see the light of day.

More screenshots from Dehoarder: