Archive for the ‘Dirty Fork: Unleash the Mayhem’ 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.



Dirty Fork Just got done submitting my 3rd Ludum Dare compo game. This time, the theme was “An Unconventional Weapon”, so I chose food as an unconventional weapon. What I ended up with was a hilarious food fight game where the objective is to clear out all of the customers.

The backstory of the game is a bit like this: You have been given a dirty fork! And as you know, a food fight is the only appropriate way to respond to this egregious of an insult.

Viva La Food Revolution! It started simply enough – throwing the tomato was the first prototype. Then I made the tomato go splat and stick to whatever it hit. Then came the customer to throw the tomato at. Then there were some tables, and more customers, and the tables were filled with tomatoes. Then the Maitre ‘d made his appearance. Then I decided that the restaurant needed pie, because pies are awesome in food fights. Then the waitstaff, chefs, and managers were created and they started throwing things back. Then I wanted some hot dogs, because hot dogs are funny. The poor player needed some cover, so then I added shoji screens. After that came breakables in the form of the lights and some glass pitchers. Then the world needed sound, and funny one-liners when opponents got hit. After that, a bit of music, some improved textures for the environment, and then 3 final food types, the waffle, the pizza, and watermelon, all in rapid succession. And lots of little stuff along the way. That’s how a game gets made in 48 hours.

Get Outta HereThis time, I used 32 of the 48 hours, which was a bit better than the 34 hours from the last compo I participated in. Honestly, I probably could have dropped the hours around 2am, because they weren’t very productive.

So now I am 3-for-3 in creating 3D games for Ludum Dare events. I’m not sure why, but I seem more comfortable doing artwork for a 3D world than a 2D one. I think it’s easier. It might be because 3D artwork seems more rooted in math and form – instead of drawing a projection of a form, I’m actually building the form itself, which usually boils down to a series of geometric exercises.

Overall, I’m very pleased with how the game turned out. I was especially pleased with the 3D modeling and texturing job that I did on the food items, and for the walls. One can do quite a bit with the new Unity 5 Standard Shader and some clever height maps.

One thing I am not pleased about that really came to the forefront this weekend is the whole kerfluffle with many plugins now being disabled in Google Chrome by default, including Unity Web Player. I have come to rely on Unity Web Player to distribute my games, especially for Ludum Dare events. I hadn’t yet tried Unity’s WebGL/HTML5 support, though this blog post made it sound like switching from Web Player to WebGL would only be a small risk. I’m here to tell you this is not the case, folks.

I spent a few hours pre-competition playing with the WebGL builds and doing a bit of research, and the results were not encouraging. Then, it came time to start actually putting out builds, and I so I built for 3 platforms: Windows Native, Web Player, and WebGL. The Windows Native and Web Player builds worked like greased lightning – over 100 frames per second in both. The WebGL build, though, was awful. It was the worst pile of pants. The build was badly bloated, and even with the quality turned way down, it was huffing and puffing and wheezing and choking and sputtering at 3-4 fps. (If you know Dragonball Z, just imagine that time that Trunks and Goten botched their fusion.)

So, contrary to claims that Unity’s WebGL deployment is the way of the future, in the present, it very much feels like the past to me. I think that only two of my back catalog games would run acceptably on Unity’s WebGL support: Chroma Invader and Snowflake, two of my earliest and simplest games.

I have not forgotten about Dehoarder 2. On the contrary, I’ve been working on it a ton. It is nearly feature-complete, which is where I am looking to be for Steam Greenlight. I’ve implemented building inspections, and some character stats as well. Dehoarder 2 also very much benefited from an upgrade to Unity 5, and from the incorporation of some formerly-pro features like pre-baked lighting. I also went back for another pass at the house model, adding details like exterior trim and baseboards, and preparing the house model for player customization (e.g. new siding, carpet, etc.). I hope that my participation in Ludum Dare this weekend ignites my productivity even further. At this point, I hope to have Dehoarder 2 ready to ship by the end of June.

Ok, I’m going to bed now. Tomorrow it is time to rate some Ludum Dare entries.