Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Well, it's been a looooong time but eventually it look like there had been news on the Wildpockets microtransaction system.
I spent a wonderful summer, traveled all over the world and I sketched many ideas that may turn into videogames. I have a huge library of pictures of objects and landscapes from the places I've been that I'd love to use. Some day...
Right now I have other priorities. I need to get over some classes and finish my undergrad project.
I was eager to work on my games but I got really disappointed when I saw that after months of delay there was no news on the microtransaction system.
Now, I will pay close attention to popularization of this in user games. I'll also keep an eye on the plugin penetration, which doesn't seem to have improved much.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New game ideas!

I have a couple of new game ideas.
I already did proof of concept with one and didn't work. There is not enough control on the underlying physics engine.
Another one is a rework of the racer game. Not racer anymore though.
And the third one would be a cross between the bounce game and a proposal the CEO from Wild Pockets made me. But there was no incentives. I want to be able to do what I want to do or get paid.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Cross out the racer thing. It's not gonna happen. At least not yet, with the current version of the software. I don't like the changes they are introducing and they don't pay attention to what they should be paying attention to.
Oh, guess what? A couple of days I posted about the racer thing I received an e-mail from somebody interning at the company. They are developing a "hovercraft racer". Sorry, looks too similar to what I was doing. I'll have to think about something new. If it's not unique it's not worthy (should I try to register this?).

Sunday, June 7, 2009


It seems that there is no racing games in WildPockets. Although not my favorite genre I thought I might give it a try.
There are some screenshots and links to the prototypes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Final results

I've embedded the game in my various websites, I created a game development blog, I created widgets at Widgetbox, ClearSpring and iGoogle and I've emailed friends from all over the world. And looks like it worked!

I've received several e-mails from people asking about the development platform. I've received congratulations and more than one person asked me about Mac support (a call to the developers here!). I tried to reply all of them and asked them for their votes and eventually it paid back.

At the end of the game jam I was really disappointed with the results. I really liked the Brains game. When the popular choice opened I had big hopes and was expecting the top runners to be Brains, In Space It Only Rains Space Rocks and Shoved.

I guess that there were no incentives to continue Lava ball or Cement tower, in which I had seen a lot of potential too. Too bad. I was also disappointed at the other winning teams not pursuiting their creations. Bumper Bash had some fixtures but what happened to Save the boy?

I never really understood Lost soul but it has very polished visuals. I guess that the promotion through the development blog also helped there.

And from here to infinity, and beyond!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The obscure API

Reading (a.k.a. reverse engineering) Wild Pockets code some times is very funny when you see something like this:

ToolJoint = makeKernelClass("ToolJoint")
hidden class ToolJoint
God knows what this is.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More games?

So, what now?

The idea would be to continue the development and do more games. But I'm uncertain about that.
A problem I face is that most of the ideas I came up with would require features not present in the current engine.
The major stopper is the lack of some kind of storage/communication system.
How are we supposed to save game states, player progress?
Another stopper is the performance of the engine in some complex scenarios. I would like to be able to play with more of less complex blocks. My games used only stacked simple boxes, but when I added a lot of those I lost a lot of performance. My approach is to load a few things at a time (and prevent the player from going further). In a racer game, where you move at high speed, I can't figure out how to load all the scenery when it contains elements to interact with (as stacked blocks).

I have two game ideas:

A futuristic racer with physics elements. Think about Star Wars pod racing meets Need for speed.

Role playing game. I have devised a simple turn based combat system. Think about Pokemon meets Zelda.

Friday, May 8, 2009

User feedback

I'm pretty happy with the user feedback so far.
I've received numerous votes, a couple of comments and a couple of people even contacted me with development questions.
Thank you guys!
And about the technical questions, I hope I resolved them. Again, you can get all the information you need at www.wildpockets.com.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


After a game has been developed and launched, next step is its promotion and marketing. And that's the phase I'm at in this mini simulation.
I've created a few widgets, sent the URL to some game developing forums and also let some friends know about it. Now we'll see.

Add to Google

Monday, May 4, 2009

SF Game Jam People’s choice

The voting for the People’s choice award for the SF Game Jam is open.

I’d like to invite you to play my games and ask you to vote for them.



Sunday, May 3, 2009

Improvements and Suggestions list

No game is ever "done". There are always improvements to make. There is a point where the game should be released, but if the developers care and the game has a solid and supportive public, there are going to be updated. From bug fixing to graphic improvements to difficulty balancing. I'd like to talk about Starcraft which has had patches regularly for over a decade.

The following lists were made after the initial submissions at the game jam. This is the current status.

Bounce'em Down game
  • Add colors to the wall tower
  • Add decoration blocks on sides
  • Add block textures
  • Explode wall in colors / freed colors go to the player
  • Add effect of black particles on enemy fire
  • Grass
  • Mountains
  • Clouds
  • Colors to the ball
  • Sounds
  • Background music
  • Control position when on mid-air
  • Roll on ground
  • Allow mid-air spinning
  • Add better splashscreen and instructions
  • Add colors in the health/status bar
  • Fox restart on death
  • Gain health on level end
  • Adjust inverted pyramid difficulty
  • Add more levels
  • Game promotion
The Tank game
  • Add block textures
  • Add stylized blocks and enemies
  • Sounds
  • Restart on death
  • Better instructions and splash screen
  • Background music
  • Bug with direction (partially solved, going right in the beginning)
  • Bug with loading levels (partially solved)
  • Particles on enemy fire
  • Add more levels
  • Promotion

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wild pockets wins!

I wanted to share with everybody my comparison of Wild pockets engine and Silverlight.
This comparison addresses very specific needs. What I'm trying to compare is the framework's capacity for fast development of single player casual games.

Wild Pockets Silverlight
Plugin installation 0 0 I don't like installing things. I usually don't install anything in my browser that doesn't come from Microsoft, Adobe or Sun. I'm very happy with my Flash player alone.
Development environment 1 0 Just installed one small-sized ActiveX instead of the full stack of Visual Studio + SP + Silverlight tools + Expression Blend.
Environment 1 1 Wild pockets have a nice builder tool to start with. It needs polishing. It lacked a code editor but I liked the ability of using my choice of text editor (Notepad++) for the code. The Visual Studio IDE is far superior though.
Jumpstart 1 0 Open the public gallery and drag objects approach of Wild pockets provides a really fast jump start. Having something running in Silverlight took a little bit longer.
Examples 1 1 The number of examples available in Wild pockets is pretty limited but the open in builder link was very useful. On the other hand, Silverlight has many examples posted everywhere, it's just a matter of downloading the files.
Reusable components 1 1 Wild pockets offer a limited but very usable gallery of components. The quality is not very high but this will probably change when they begin monetizing the environment. Silverlight in the other hand is backed by multiple libraries (see codeplex.com)
Creating components 0 0 I didn't like not being able to "draw" in either of them. Silverlight at least has the Expression Blend, but I didn't like the XAML thing.
Importing resources 0 1 Wild pockets has a pretty limited uploading interface and for 3D objects it only enables you to export them from Maya or 3D Max using their custom exporters. Visual studio allows you to reference dll or use any other file that will be packed at build time.
Built-in features 1 0 Wild pockets has a nice phisics engine and an average 3D renderer. I experimented with the beta particle engine. It was nice having all this out of the box. Input handling was pretty easy from keyboard, but a little bit more challenging from the mouse. In Silverlight you either do it yourself or get libraries from around.
Programming language 1 1 I liked the scripting approach and I picked Lua very easily. Microsoft opted for typed languages (although IronRuby may be coming) and all related pros and cons. I like the ability of choosing VB or C# and I really like the later.
First prototyping 1 0 After studying some examples I started my own project. I got the Wild pockets prototypes working really fast. It took me a while to figure out how Silverlight really works.
Documentation 0 1 The build in documentation in Wild Pockets is just ok and not being able to browse it and search from the browser got me angry. The documentation and tutorials are faulty and outdated. The code completion feature of Visual Studio, MSDN and Google provide enough documentation to make me happy.
Power and performance 0 0 Wild pockets slowed my machine when I had many things going on. The collision detection requieres heavy processing power and the particle system reduced my frame rate too much too often. Silverlight 2D vector drawing was fast enough but limited.
Stability 0 0 Both crashed my browser several times. Wild pockets even gave me a BSoD before I updated my graphics driver.
Building 0 0 Wild pockets is interpreted but one needs to save and let the system upload the script file to the server. Silverlight needs to be compiled. Drawn here.
Learning curve 1 0 In one week I learned Wild pockets, got my prototype working and in a couple of weeks I cleaned it enough to be satisfied with the results. I haven't got a working prototype with Silverlight in the same time.
Capabilities. 0 0 Both are limited. I like 2D games and it was tricky getting it working with Wild pockets. Silverlight in the other hand is 2D only excluding a bunch of other people.
Game development 1 0 Clearly Wild pockets is aimed at game development making it very easy to get a game working. Silverlight is more generic allowing it to be useful for a wide range of tasks non specific to game development.
Ownership 0 1 I have the sources of my Silverlight apps stored in my computer and I will publish a binary file on the Internet. In the other hand, Wild pockets has all my source files and resources in their server.

Conclusions: Gather your own. I have many coming soon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wild pockets vs Silverlight

I've been trying to port the games to Microsoft Silverlight.
It was then when I discovered how sweet the Wild pockets game engine was and how complicated Silverlight happened to be.
It still needs to overcome the penetration of the Flash plug in but who knows what's going to happen in the future.
You can play the Silverlight attempt here:
Note: Click on the slider to enable the keyboard input. Same as the Wild pockets game, arrows and space.

Final product!

And here are the completed games:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Map editor

Piece of advice. Follow the recommendation from the designer diary. Use some kind of "map editor" to create your levels.
My approach: I had functions to generate the different towers. Then functions to generate the levels and finally a "renderer" function that created and placed all the blocks onscreen. This way I was able to easily plug this renderer function in and out and exchange it for a command line one for quick debugging.

My world editor in action screenshot.

And the source code for the level creation is as clean as this:
function createlevel()
x =worldmin + 20 * level
if level == 1 then
for k,v in pairs(towere(x,height)) do create(v,false) end
elseif level == 2 then
for k,v in pairs(tower(x,height)) do create(v,false) end
for k,v in pairs(tower(x+2,height)) do create(v,false) end
elseif level == 3 then
for k,v in pairs(tower(x,height)) do create(v,false) end
for k,v in pairs(tower(x+2,height)) do create(v,false) end
for k,v in pairs(tower(x+4,height)) do create(v,false) end
elseif level == 4 then
for k,v in pairs(tower(x,height+1)) do create(v,false) end
for k,v in pairs(tower(x+2,height)) do create(v,false) end
for k,v in pairs(tower(x+4,height-1)) do create(v,false) end

GUI Elements

In order to make the games more playable I added some instructions.

And some GUI elements for representing game status

The health of the Bounce game is drawn on top of this icon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A catchy spash screen

What do a great game need? A great splash screen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

First games

The first games were created rather quickly and were ready for submission.

Screenshot of the first Bounce game.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Always have game ideas in mind

Those are some additional sketches I made about another (maybe future) game.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

First games

The first games were created rather quickly and were ready for submission.

Bounce'em Down Game

Bounce Widget