Posts Tagged ‘Indie Games’

IGDA Ottawa: Indies in the Classroom Talk

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

At a recent Independent Game Developers Association meeting I was asked to talk about my experiences taking Hideout!, a project originally developed as schoolwork, to the Xbox 360 for public sale. The slides and a video of the presentation are below. As always, please pass on any feedback; it’s always much appreciated!

The presentation began with a brief introduction of myself and Hideout! including Hideout’s promotional video.

This meetup was focused on students going above and beyond class requirements and taking their games to the next level. The audience was comprised mainly of students in game development programs or recent graduates. The topics covered include the following:

  • Porting from Windows to Xbox 360 with XNA
  • Xbox Live “Indie Games”
  • Other general game design topics for Hideout!

Download Slides (PPTX)

Hideout! Downloads: First Four Days

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Hey Everyone! The “estimated” data for the first four days of downloads and sales for Hideout! are in! We’ve had over 1000 people try out the game, which definitely shows that people like the game box and marketing material! And 28 full game copies have been sold! To be honest, these are pretty much the numbers that I was hoping for, maybe even better, especially considering the game was originally designed without sales in mind. But I’m really most happy because of the sheer number of people that have had a chance to try it out! :D I hope you’re all having fun with the game!

HideoutSales_FirstFourDays

Date Trials Purchases
8/26/2010 385 8
8/27/2010 296 4
8/28/2010 219 10
8/29/2010 176 6
Grand Total 1076 28

Purchase/Trial Ratio: 2.60 %

Hideout!: Designing Lasting Arcade-Style Gameplay

Monday, August 30th, 2010

When I initially designed and implemented the gameplay of Hideout! I had created a game where the best players would consistently get to about level 5 or 6, while beginners would typically achieve level 3 or 4. This wasn’t very good – I wanted experienced players to be able to get much higher up, maybe up to around level 25.

During the update and port to the Xbox 360, I spent some time working on this problem and was successfully able to create a very effective solution that kept beginners at around level 5, but enabled skilled players (myself) to reach level 23!

The Problem

When I had initially programmed the level progression, I had designed a number of the gameplay mechanics to progress in a linear fashion, such as the UFO speed, the time it takes for a UFO to discover you, etc.

I wanted the experienced players to be able to get to a “high” level, maybe in the twenties or thirties. This essentially resulted in the following scenario:

problem1

Interestingly, this implementation presented a huge problem: Players couldn’t tell that the levels were actually getting harder. Said differently, the difficulty steps were too small at the beginning levels. This meant that the players would easily become bored of the game because they assumed that it was the same thing over and over, with no difference in challenge from level to level.

To resolve this problem, I simply made the gameplay mechanics become harder much more faster than in the first design. This resulted in the first version of the game:

problem2

This caused a second problem, which I described at the beginning of the article: Even advanced players were not able to get very far in the game, compared to the beginners. It became impossibly hard to get past the low-to-mid range levels.

The Solution: Using Asymptotes!

After looking back at the game and performing this analysis, it was quite easy to come up with a solution to the problems: Instead of using a linear progression of gameplay mechanics, I simply implemented a function with an asymptote. This asymptote was positioned approximately around where I had determined that the gameplay mechanic was essentially impossible for humans. I also scaled out the function to make the curve start levelling out around the level 100 mark:

solution

This new approach enabled the players to both feel that the game was getting harder and allow them to slowly creep their way up to the highest level they could, anywhere between levels 10 and 25. This gave players a feeling of accomplishment as they played the game, because they could really see themselves getting better and better the more they played, but also understand that with each level the game was actually getting harder.

It’s nice to use a graphing calculator to help you make your function just right (Microsoft Math is one example). In the end, I feel that this approach has really made the Hideout! experience all that it could be and I’ve seen lots of players really get hooked on it and have a lot of fun.

Make sure to check out the new Hideout! to see what level you can get to! (And, of course, brag to your friends.)

Hideout! Now Available on Xbox Live!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Hideout! has now been released on the Xbox 360! You can find it for download (with a free trial game) in the indie games section of the Xbox Live Marketplace or visit the game’s website at hideout.allenwp.com to watch the game trailer and find out more information. I had a tonne of fun making this game, so I hope you have just as much fun playing it!

Hideout! box art

If you have a moment to rate the game, it would be greatly appreciated as ratings strongly impact the number of people who will try out the game. Special thanks to everyone who helped with the development and testing of this game — It’s because of you that this game grown into such a fun experience! Happy gaming!

Hideout! screenshot

Links:

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