Monthly Archives: April 2015

One Month of Blogging Every Day

One Month

Today officially concludes one full month of blogging daily.

It all started at the end of GDC where I was inspired by one of the last sessions. I decided then and there to up my blogging output to every day. While it seemed crazy at the time, I’m extremely glad I got started doing it.

While I can’t say it has always been easy or that I haven’t backdated once or twice to catch up — I can say it has been much easier than I first thought it would be. There’s almost always something to share for the day and often I find I have to pair it down, if anything.

Let’s see if we can keep this going at least one more month…

Testing

Crash Testing

Crash Testing

Like yesterday, there were more small changes and tweaks. But overall, more and more of my time is now being put into testing as we get closer to submission.

How Good is Good Enough for Gold?

Gold Medals

I’ve had an ongoing philosophical battle with my testers. I contend that in order to get Gold Medals, you have to be truly excellent. That means saving 100%, making the time goal, and having 100% tap accuracy. But they feel I’m being too harsh.

One you get a gold in one category, you can go for the gold in another. For example, you could play a level just looking to save all the trees, while having poor accuracy, but then replay with little regard for the trees while trying hard to make sure every shot counted to have total accuracy. Seems easy enough, right?

Alas, only a couple players can really get the 100% accuracy at the later levels on Normal. So today, finally, I’ve decided to relax the accuracy standard to 97% or more to get the gold. It might be a little easier — but you’re still going to have to work for it!

The Perfect Lob

Today has been mostly a large batch of small refinements: tweaking difficulty of some levels up, some down, adding sounds, adjusting graphic tweens, and a wide range of bug fixes.

The Perfect Lob

The Perfect Lob

Perhaps my favorite small fix is in the Commando Beaver’s grenade lob. Originally it followed this behavior: (1) goes up in a straight line, (2) hangs, (3) goes down in a straight line. Now the code has a much more bezier curve to it and it feels great on the screen.

It’s funny how the little touches can mean so much in a game.

Kaboom!

Today my project exploded.

I was publishing out the newly integrated Commando Beaver build when I encountered the Blue Screen of Death! To be sure, the first screen of my game is blue before objects are added, so it just happens to coincide with Microsoft’s crash of the same namesake. Thus, it’s really just the Beaver Smash version of BSOD.

Blue Screen of Death

Blue Screen of Death

This ultimately led me on a Version Control Journey (TM).

For the uninitiated, us programmers (the wise ones) use some form of Version Control for many situations just like this as we can “rewind” back to the steps in our programming that worked, then slowly step forward to see where the problem occurred. Now while that sounds nice and speedy like a movie editor, the actual publishing from Unity-to-Xcode-to-iPad for every commit in the version control is very, very tedious and takes a lot of time.

Worse still, after putting in four or five hours tracking down the issue, you feel very drained and unmotivated. All the things you were planning to do at the start of the day were put on hold until you worked this problem out — and now you can start on them at 4pm? Meh.

So I took a break afterward and watched John Wick. It had an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so I figured I’d take a chance. It’s too bad I don’t have Version Control on my life, because I definitely would have rewound that mistake too.

The Elusive Commando Beaver

Commando Beaver -- tap the grenades he lobs before they reach your trees

Commando Beaver — tap the grenades he lobs before they reach your trees

When I was initially building the game, I had a special beaver rigged as the “Commando Beaver,” who would first appear in the Difficult Mode. In fact, he was the only one to NOT be introduced in the initial Normal Mode.

His mechanics were different than the other beavers in that he would appear, lob a grenade at a random tree, then submerge into the ground. The challenge was either tapping him before he lobbed the grenade or disarming the thrown grenade in the air before it landed on your tree.

The original plan has changed with Infinity Mode replacing Difficult Mode, which makes the original introduction moot. Plus, I’m less reluctant to place the Commando Beaver in the Normal Mode anyway as I think the majority of players will probably play there for a while before moving on to other games. So what the heck, I might as well make use of him there.

At first I thought I’d add him at a much later level — the Ground Zero chapter being the most appropriate. But then I was struck by the idea he might actually add a lot to the game if plugged in earlier on. A kind of catfish, if you will. Thus, my new build has him showing up at level 4 and appearing roughly 1 out of every 10 beavers just to see how it feels.

I guess I’ll know if this was a good idea after a lot of playtesting tomorrow…