Garage Games Ate My .Plan, Minor TZ progress, Flip Panic! Released, and Indie discussions

Garage Games Ate My .Plan file. I have no idea why. It wasn’t a BAD plan or anything, and no longer than normal. I submitted like it usually does… and it never showed up. Weird. I waited overnight, and it never showed. So, I’ll try again! (Or maybe this is just a hint from GG not to post small novels as .plan files 😉
First off I finally got around to releasing Flip Panic! This is (I think) my 7th puzzle game, including two freebies I did (Boulder Panic!: The Challenge was a promotional game, and Boulder Panic!: Christmas Bonus was a statement on me not getting Christmas Bonuses anymore) It’s a pretty slick (IMHO) puzzle game with an interesting set of changing rules and goals. It’s also good for a quick brainless game using the Blitz! mode, or much more involved gameplay using the regular consecutive puzzle level mode. You can Download The Demo Here
(Very small screenshot 😉
One problem I have with the game – I can’t describe it very well. The above two sentences is the best I’ve been able to come up with, and it really doesn’t do much to describe it. So, I’ve got a little contest in mind – download the demo, and play through it, and submit a one paragraph description of the game. I’ll take the best description of the game, and give you a free copy of the game. You can also submit a full blown sales pitch page for it, and I’ll give the best one of those a free copy of the game also.
I submitted it as a Dev Snapshot, along with the same offer, so I’ll probably give the ‘contest’ 3 – 4 days run time before declaring any winners. Also, comments, flames, etc., about the game are welcome :o)
This is probably the last game to use the Panic! Engine. (But not the last to use the name 😉 I’ve released two products using the Panic! Engine so far, and now I’ve become very interested in doing things in a cross platform way. Right now I’m considering Chris Cole’s work on the Reaction Engine, or developing a new one using Real Basic.
Torque is overkill for most of these games (I don’t need Internet play access and a whole host of cool features Torque supports) and I’m more interested in the game being playable on much smaller hardware. The Reaction Engine is a good choice, IMHO, but currently lacks cross platform capabilities (but it’s in Chris’s plans based on his last release.) The Reaction Engine also looks pretty slick, graphically.
RealBasic 5.5 will add support for Linux builds (however, it won’t have a native Linux IDE), and is partially compatable with VisualBasic (not completely – many things have a very different way of doin’ things, but I got as far as getting a prototype together before my demo version expired.) My engine isn’t nearly as pretty as the Reaction Engine, and porting it to new platforms doesn’t improve that any 😉 But it’s also a strictly 2D engine with low horsepower usage – and bein’ 2D it runs on anything. Tough set of choices here!
Anyone else know of a good choice for a puzzle game engine for crossplatform stuff that I missed out on?
Unluckly, Trajectory Zone didn’t progress much over the week. Bummer. I got SOME work done, but, more and more stuff kept getting in the way. I’m shooting for getting the next single player test done by Aug. 15th (just before I go on vacation), then we’ll consider the first wider beta based on feedback I get from the team on that.
However, I had a surprisingly long discussion with Justin Mettle of 21-6 about game development in general, and something cool that 21-6 might be able to contribute to TZ. I’m not positive how much of the converstation was under NDA (sometimes it’s hard to tell 😉 but they could definitely bring some interesting features to TZ with only a little effort (and cash?) on my part. 
We also discussed how sales were going for them, swapped information on contacts and experiences with various companies (eGames, GarageGames, etc.) and he gave me what looks like a good lead on who to talk to concerning a Mac distribution of TZ. Cool – when the Multi-Player Beta is ready, I’ll probably start sending out the inital demo’s to publishers to look at. I’ve got more than one intrigued, so, hopefully that all pans out. There is no way that TZ can ship via online distribution – Eric Forhan spent most of a day downloading the single player test 1 version!
Justin also confirmed the same thing I’ve heard from other people, and something Jay Moore was talkin’ about when we were discussing David and I speaking at IGC ’03 – game development doesn’t end when you release 1.0. They are now on version 2.1 of Orbz – the game was released something like 8 months ago, and Justin is still working on it. There’s marketing to do, revisions, etc. Man, what a long road Indie game development truely is. Kinda depressing to hear exactly how long it is sometimes! 😛
But, at the same time, it was good to talk to Justin, and hear what thier success and failures have been. It’s great to hear it because I get to chance to potentially dodge some of the bad things, and gain from their experience.
I’m also in need of a ‘side project’ again. I usually have two projects running at once at any given time – Trajectory Zone requires quite a bit of thought development wise, while the puzzle games don’t require nearly as much effort to work on. So when I’m stumped on TZ stuff, or stuck on the phone with customers, I work on one of my puzzle games. Not sure what the next side project is – I’m considering Eric Forhan’s idea of a pinball game. Problem is, a pinball game is 95% content development. Content development is more of Eric’s area (though I can run MilkShape 3D just fine as long as anything organic isn’t involved 😉 which means taking on a game like that doesn’t cause more headaches for me, just for Eric. Not nessisarily a good idea. I’ve got some options to explore, and I’ll play with those first before I make a decision. I suppose I COULD do finish off one more of the half-finished puzzle games under the old engine before making the switch, but to be honest it’s not that appealing. But it would be simple, and would get another game out there quickly.
Ok, enough novel writing, time ta’ get to work! On…. something. 😉
(Edit: Don’t put Quotes around the url 😉
Dan MacDonald   (Aug 04, 2003 at 12:05)
Personally, for 2D crossplatform, my money is on Allegro ( ) now with Dos, MAC, PC, and Linux support (source compatible). It’s hard to beat, it’s got a lot of really great features already built in, and it’s very simple to use.
I’d also like to comment that i’m always amazed when indies release version 1.0 of their game and just walk away from it and move onto the next project. As indies we have the wonderful opportunity of listening to our customers and making our games better for them based on their feedback. In talking to other indies, this effort has always paid for itself in spades. Especially as an indie releasing their first or second game, do they really think it’s going to be perfect right out of the gate? 
I think a lot of indies have high expectations for their v1.0 releases and then are crushed when they dont see those expectations realized. If only they stuck with it a little longer and improved their game based on feedback, they would be able to meet their expectations. Alas many get dejectd and quit.
Edited on Aug 04, 2003 12:13
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Aug 04, 2003 at 13:35)  
Oh, don’t get me wrong – Flip Panic! isn’t done yet. 1.0 isn’t where game development stops – there’s the update cycle, marketing, etc. 1.0 release is only 50% of the job.
When I mentioned my next filler project, it’s because it’s now time for the ‘feedback’ portion of the game cycle. Finding out what people think of the game, what enhancements would be good, any bugs that managed to make it through the testing cycle, etc (and one did – oops.) 
Plus, I’m going to do something that I haven’t done well enough before: It’s time for Marketing. I’m actually hoping for a little feedback first, but, I plan on doing some actual marketing work on this game beyond making it available for download on the various shareware sites (which is what I normally do. I’ll still be doing that of course.) Since the next filler project will be a little larger I’m sure, it’s time to learn how to do marketing – the process, press releases, what works, what doesn’t, etc. My problem is that… well, I don’t know the marketing well enough yet, and I find it WAY less interesting than developing the game. (Hopefully no one misconstrued the idea that I was just doin’ fire and forget with Flip Panic! 🙂
Glad to see other people that identify the stages of game development realistically – 1.0 is not the end 🙂
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Aug 04, 2003 at 13:52)  
Allegro would only be part of the equation, from what I’ve seen. That only gets your onscreen display and sound. There’s still the tile engine to be written, event handling, etc.
Dan MacDonald   (Aug 04, 2003 at 14:00)
Oh I wasn’t trying to accuse you of product abandonment, after reading about your conversation with justin, it reminded me of one of my pet peeves. So natrually I had to comment 🙂
Yes, allegro is a rendering library not a game engine. But it does get you past where DirectDraw leaves you. You get bitmaped font support, 2D/3D polygon routines, transparencies, bitmap objects, scaling and rotation of bitmaps. Kyboard and Mouse support, lots of nice little things. With those features you could have a tile engine up and running in about 2-3 days time.
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Aug 04, 2003 at 14:06)  
Ah! Ok, I see why you were suggesting Allegro. 
BTW: Is the ICQ # in your profile correct? I’m tryin’ to get ahold of ya outside a’ the forums 🙂
Dan MacDonald   (Aug 04, 2003 at 17:05)
Yes it is, unfortunatly the firewall at work blocks ICQ, so I can only access it from home. I should be home in an hour 😉

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