Tag Archive for Blog a week

Highscores in X-Orbtek II

I’m currently looking at the options available for high scores in X-Orbtek II.

I figure that for local high scores, you don’t care about beating the 7th placed score. As a result I plan on keeping to one “high score”. When I first build the game it had two modes and then single player and multiplayer versions of those. This lead to four “High Scores” (i.e. one top score per mode). A little clunky but possibly explainable.

However now I’ve gone and expanded that. Effectively I could have 8 different forms of gameplay with 5 difficulty levels, which of course opens up a horrible mess of highscores. “You beat your top single player score on Easy difficulty with Classic orb collection and combat enabled”. Hmmm. I think not.

I’d like to reduce that but should that be reduced to just one highscore or have a couple for specific configurations (eg single player / multiplayer, combat / no combat, classic / survival). My concern is that it may be exploitable and there may be a specific configuration that allows for near unbeatable scores.

Saying that, this is for local highscores only. The goal of a local highscore is to get you trying to better yourself and making the best of any specific unbalanced selection only really applies in the online world. Also if the game becomes popular enough for an exploit to be known, well I’ll take that and address it later. Of course I hope to balance the game as much as I can before release, although there’s only so much playtesting that you can do!

I don’t expect to provide any form of online highscores for the XBLIG version* of X-Orbtek II, in large part because you can’t. Okay, there’s ways to fudge it via P2P communication but I’d rather only implement it if I’m doing it properly!

Anyway… here’s a video:

* As opposed to …?

Invertical and the new types of levels

In my previous “Blog A Week” I reflected on the Great Big World. Previously as a reward for completing the story you unlocked one HUGE level but that had its flaws. To tackle this I’ve looked to create a series of smaller rooms.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Each room has a portal to save your progress (I may replace this with your classic disk sprite) and collectible items. The design is very much about puzzle solving your way to the books and scrolls then moving onto the next room. Each room is styled based on the main chapters in the game so you could climb up from the underground areas and enter a city level or go along to a castle.

I’m rather liking it and this could well be something that I look to use in future versions. I’ve actually had a play about with Invertical as a mobile game. A lot of the levels involve inverting whilst jumping diagonally. Unfortunately this is a bit too fiddly on a mobile device. In order to make the game work on Android/WP8/iOS the levels will all need redoing. However I feel that the design and structure of the new bonus and Great Big World levels are the foundations for a great mobile game.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. This PC version (definitely Windows, likely Linux too) has to get finished first and X-Orbtek II is shaping up rather nicely!

Invertical and the Great Big World

After completing the main game in Invertical you unlock “The Great Big World”, which is a huge level encompassing aspects from all of the different chapters. This allows for more in the way of exploration, however I’m not sure whether I like it any more.

Does this need replacing?

Does this need replacing?

On one hand being able to take your time and explore the worlds is an interesting and enjoyable experience but it can be hard to navigate your way around and there are performance impacts. I like the way that saving works so rather than being stop / start you have to find the portals. If you die, you lose everything. That said, you don’t really die. In fact I’d be tempted to remove all stuff that kills you! In fact I’m tempted to remove the whole damn level.

Obviously I don’t want to re-release Invertical with less content than there was originally but if I’m making major changes then coupled with my current improvements, I could just you know, redo everything and make it a sequel. However I’ve other projects on the go and I’d like to get this done. Decisions, decisions. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter (@OxygenAddictUK).

No news is good news, right?

This may be the most boring and certainly the shortest of my blog a week posts so far I’m afraid.

I currently have multiple projects on the go but lately have been primarily focused on a currently unannounced project. As a result I can’t talk about the latest goings on, which leaves me a little sad as I do love rambling on about my games! However I have started looking at improving the social setup for my games. I’ve updated the Facebook pages for X-Orbtek and HexStackIt as well as adding a new one for Invertical. If you like the pages then you’ll get updates for all games and I do hope to make use of Facebook more in the coming year, both for interacting with folk and also putting games on there!

I’ll tell you what though… now that I’m using XNA and C# it really does make you appreciate how much time and effort can be saved by using GameMaker.

How to market the much updated Invertical?

This is a question that I’ve been debating quite a bit.

This isn’t a full sequel, nor is it DLC as I don’t want any requirements on the original. It is a bit like releasing a deluxe extended edition of a DVD with loads of extras, a fancy box and previously unseen footage. As a result I am unsure how much of a push should I make on promoting the game, especially given I’ve something else on the go and this is all in my free time. I need a hook. I need something new to show and not just feature improvements or additions but something brand spanking new about it.

There is however one thing I am certain of… I need to get around more. Be more active on forums and then just before the game comes out, I need to get in touch with people. Instead of working hard on the game, getting it done and contacting everyone I should get it 99.999% done, contact people, get some attention going and set a release date around 2 or 3 weeks ahead. This gives writers a chance to play the game and I’ve an enforced quality control period to be a bit more of a perfectionist on any trivial issues.

But going back to my earlier thoughts, I still need that hook. Something big. How about releasing on a platform other than Windows? Sounds like a plan!

Invertical – Improving the first gameplay experience

Welcome to the first of my “blog a week” posts, starting off with a look at Invertical and part of my work planned to turn it from what is a good little game into something a little special.

I’ve great belief in Invertical as a concept and also believe that the released game is great fun, original and for the price, an excellent buy. However it has its flaws and all too many of them are in the first few minutes. They aren’t huge but if you are put off by the first 2 minutes, there’s no guarentee that you’ll continue playing. The one I’ll be discussing today is the first level.

The original introduction level was meant to give players practice at jumping and changing colour. In truth it turned out to be slightly too difficult for players and just wasn’t an interesting level. The fun part of Invertical is figuring out your route and this was just jump then change in mid air several times. Of course it is good practice for levels where you need to jump and change colour in mid air but the game needs to engage players so early on.

I’ve made a number of changes to the level. For starters the level design is very different with no requirement to change colour whilst making diagonal jumps. Now there are just simple jumps and you can usually change colour whilst standing. There is also a very simple bit of puzzle solving. The other notable change to make the level a much better tutorial is that will introduce the both the concept and controls to the player, not just jumping practice. Finally I’ve altered the artwork slightly rather than being very plain. Still considering a background and neutral change but that is still to be decided.

If you have any feedback, fire it my way! I’ve put together a quick video where you can see the two levels. Hope you agree, the new one is much better!