Two Weeks Later…

…and I’m back to coding again. Now that the dust has settled and all of the nasty bugs have been found and hopefully fixed I’m back to thinking about content instead.

There are two things I’m working on now – A Waves Update and Game 2. I’m splitting my time roughly 50/50 between the two and today is the first day of working on the Waves update (as opposed to just thinking about it).

The Waves update is going to consist of two parts. A big boat load of new achievements and at least one new game mode. Most of the new achievements have been suggested by the community over on the Steam forums and if you want to suggest some more then go ahead.

The new game mode is as yet undecided. This is because I’m actually going to be prototyping a bunch of new game modes and picking the one that’s actually any fun. So far there are three candidates and I expect this to increase over the next few weeks.

I’ve always had an open development philosophy with Waves and I plan to keep that going so here are the potential new game modes:

Outbreak – This mode was planned for the full game before the combo system and bombs appeared. It got ditched as a result of those mechanics making it completely trivial and very boring. Essentially this is based entirely around the self-replicating Virus enemy giving you a single life and a mission to stay alive as long as you can. This mode is NOT going to work as it stands because it’s missing a whole bunch of stuff that makes the rest of the game work (Virus kills don’t give XP for example). However it’s on the list for being brought back if I can find a way to make it work.

Chase – This mode has a time limit of 5 seconds. It could be the shortest mode ever. It is the speed metal of game modes. It’s a little like Bombing Run and a little like Rush. The mode is based around rolling over timer pads as quickly as possible in order to keep resetting the timer. You will be fully armed in this mode but with a 5 second time limit you’re going to find your route around the arena determined entirely by where the pads spawn.

EDIT: I’ve been messing about with Chase all day and it’s definitely going into the update. It is absolutely insane.

Hold – (Yeah I suck at names) This one is inspired by what a whole bunch of people did at the Eurogamer Expo: Not move. There will be an area roughly 25%-33% the area of the arena in the middle. Stay inside this area and all is well. If you move outside it for more than a few seconds though you’ll explode. Normally the edge of the arena is the safest place to be. This mode turns that around by forcing you to stay in the middle.

Those are the 3 modes I’m going to be prototyping up first and if it turns out that all 3 of them are fun then all 3 of them will appear in the game.

Now on to other business.

If you happen to be awesome with video editing software and interested in making a new snazzy trailer for Waves for no payment then I definitely want to hear from you because I suck at it. Also if you happen to be a marketing guru willing to work for compliments then I have a job for you as well.

There was an interview with me at True PC Gaming and some reviews of Waves here and here.

To end the post here are some statistics from Steam:

  • There are 1071 people on the Steam Leaderboards.
  • 66% of them are Chuck Norris.
  • 25% have killed more than 25000 enemies.
  • 4.5% have reached level 15 in Crunch Time.
  • 0.7% have ever reached level 40 in Survival mode.
  • 0.1% have gotten 10 5-star ratings in Challenge mode in a single game.
  • Nobody has 5-starred every Challenge in a single game (it is possible though).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week After

Hello!

So Waves was released a week ago and since then there have been 2 patches on Steam and a third that will hopefully go live tonight (EDIT: It has gone live already). That’s more patches than Skyrim has had and I’ve definitely fixed more things than I’ve broken.

Generally the only bugs have been with Achievements and that’s largely because achievements are hard to debug until you can actually see the stats for them which I couldn’t during the beta. Everything else has been adding little feature requests like being able to pick a Random announcer each game or turning off the Aim Line.

Since release several people have said some very nice things about Waves in what are known as “Reviews” I shall share the ones I know about below along with some of my favourite quotes:

DealSpwn “Prepare for hectic unforgiving splendour and retinal titilation of the highest order.”
The72Pins “If you’re looking for a game to take the place of the never to be seen Geometry Wars 3, then this is it.”
Kotaku “Waves is the most addictive little twin-stick shooter I’ve played since Geometry Wars.”
IndieGamesMag “Waves is a hard hitting, spunk-filled fireworks display.”
ElectronDance “1 min of its edge-of-seat bullet ballet = the handstrain of 6 self-love sessions.”
DIYGamer “it’s a lot bloody good.”

Some other things that have happened since release is the Survival leaderboards have seen 4 players break the 1 billion barrier with one player managing to hit the score cap I had to implement because Steam Leaderboards and UDK don’t support 64bit integers.

The current top score for the Challenge mode was actually caught on camera and is on Youtube as well which was quite lucky.

I shall now address the things that people ask me (aside from “Can I have a review copy?”):

Q: Can we have more music?

A: Music is expensive. Really expensive. Waves has not yet made enough that I can afford to pay SMILETRON to make some new tracks. So at the moment no.

Q: Will the soundtrack be released?

A: We’re working on it. SMILETRON is mastering the ingame tracks into an album friendly format at the moment. When it’s closer to happening I’ll post about it.

Q: The Friends leaderboard is a bit slow isn’t it?

A: Yep it is. This is unfortunately a UDK issue and one I was hoping would be fixed with the October update. It wasn’t. This is one of those bugs that I can’t do anything about. The November UDK update may fix it but I’m not promising anything.

Q: Is there going to be a Mac, XBLA, PSN, iThing version?

A: XBLA and PSN isn’t going to happen unless the game makes a huge amount of money. The UDK licence doesn’t cover those platforms so I’d need a full Unreal licence. That’s assuming I got a slot which I think is incredibly unlikely. A Mac or iThing version may happen further down the line but it requires that I have a Mac and iThing to test on which I can’t afford right now.

 

WAVES IS OUT!

That’s right! It’s available for purchase right now!

To celebrate there will be 15% off for a week making the price a lovely $8.50 (ish) rather than $10 so take advantage and tell all your friends. You could use that extra $1.50 to buy some Fizzy Pop.

Now due to the nature of Time zones and the fact that only big name games with huge publishers get midnight releases locked to timezone the game will not be out everywhere all at once.

You can buy the game right now from this very website even if it isn’t actually November 16th yet where you are.

Next up will be GamersGate which should be available sometime around 10am GMT (It may be later or earlier I don’t have an exact time).

Then we have Steam which should be available around 6pm GMT.

Now not to worry because wherever you buy the game from you will get a code that you can put into Steam and it will work right away even if the Store page isn’t up yet on Steam.

If you have any issues then email me or post a comment.

If you feel the need to start tweeting your highscores then kindly use the #WavesScores hashtag and for everything else use #WavesGame.

Waves is Gold

It’s a phrase that has absolutely no basis in reality for a downloadable indie game but Waves has “Gone Gold” which is to say that the final release version of the game has been built and is ready for sending to distributors.

So like it or not Waves will be released on November 16th. There is even a timer counting down to it on the Waves page. Technology eh? Marvellous.

Blue Fire Dawn – Press G To Generate

Waves is basically finished now so that means I get to mess around for a bit in the name of “Prototyping”. At the moment I have a vague hand-wavey idea of what I want to make after Waves but I can’t really commit to anything properly until I know if I will have enough money for what I want.

There is however one thing that I have always been very interested in and that’s procedurally generated levels. This is a thing that common wisdom over on the UDK forums suggests should either be impossible or at least so very hard that you would be better off building your own engine instead.

Naturally I decided that this is exactly what I was going to spend my weekend trying to do…

After soliciting a name from Twitter (thanks to ElectronDance for the winner) I set about trying to generate a level in UDK.

The first attempt was horrible and shall not be mentioned again.

The second attempt is below and turned out quite well. In fact it turned out so well that you can download the prototype and tootle around an infinite number of procedurally generated mazes. Seriously there is nothing else to do in it except tootle. No baddies, no pickups, nothing. It’s not a game it’s a piece of tech.

Anyway you use WASD or the arrows to move and you can press G to generate a new level.

If you want to pretend there is a game in there then there is always one really big room that has only one entrance. Try and find it in the dark.

I’m not sure if I’m going to use this yet but it was fun to be coding something that wasn’t Waves (even though I did copy all of the rolling ball stuff from it).

In other news: 1 week to go on Wednesday!

DOWNLOAD THE PROTOTYPE

There are no unlocks in Waves

The relevant bit is at around 3 minutes in.

There are no unlocks in Waves. None at all. If you buy the game then you get access to all five game modes right away. This won’t prevent most of you trying them all out in the order they appear in the menu but there is absolutely nothing stopping you from starting out with Bombing Run rather than Crunch Time.

This is for a reason and that reason is not “Too lazy to put in unlockable content”. The reason there are no unlocks is because the moment you have unlockable content gamers start to focus purely on unlocking the content rather than enjoying the game itself (See The Overjustification Effect).

I’m going to use an anecdote to support this (even though there is plenty of empirical evidence that supports this theory anecdotes are fun and more relate-able)…

I recently started playing Space Marine multiplayer. It’s a lot of fun when it isn’t lagging (which is sadly most of the time) but it has a few too many unlocks. Ever since I started playing I have been playing as a pure Tactical Marine – Bolter and Frag grenades only. At first this was because I just love the Bolter (it’s an awesome feeling weapon to use) but after a few hours it was because I wanted to unlock the Kraken Bolts for it. Then once I had unlocked the Kraken Bolts I wanted to unlock the Targetter (Which I still haven’t it being bloody hard to do). I was refusing to let myself play with any other class or weapon combination because I wanted to unlock one of the rewards (which I suspect once I had done I would use for two games and then try to unlock something else).

My quest to unlock everything for my Bolter was starting to affect how I enjoyed the game. It was no longer enough that I scored a kill or if my side won the game – if I hadn’t gotten at least one Bolter Kill Streak out of the game then in my eyes it was a failure. I was completely single mindedly focussed on unlocking content to the point where I had stopped enjoying the game and was playing in a way that was completely selfish and detrimental to my teams overall effectiveness (if it wasn’t for the fact that everybody else was playing this way I’d feel a bit more guilty about it). I’m now making myself play with whatever I want to or feel the situation demands rather than trying to unlock specific items one at a time. I may unlock the content eventually but I will do so in a much more organic manner over a longer period of time. Above all I’m having fun again.

Now I know that one of the reasons for having to unlock content is to ensure that the player has learnt how to use the pre-requisites sufficiently – but in the majority of cases the unlocks exist to keep people playing a game they may not be enjoying because they have sunk a lot of time into it and would feel horrible if they just abandoned it. Unlockables are more often completely cynical methods of trying to extend playtime (and coming from AAA console development I have been in the meetings where the solution to a game being 4 hours too short is to add some hidden objects that unlock concept art so I know it happens). In some instances the addition of unlockable content can completely undermine the entertainment to be gained from just playing the game.

Waves is about enjoying the game itself. It rewards good players with increasing difficulty rather than decreasing (which is often what unlocking powerups achieves) – the better you get at the game the harder the game will be in response. It’s designed to keep you in a sweet spot where your abilities are being pushed just enough to keep you from being bored but not so much as to make you frustrated (See Flow) – the score is only there so you have feedback on how well you’re doing (and also so you can gloat to your friends).

Waves can never be completed but it can be exhausted. It is not possible to “100%” the game but it is possible to reach a point where you feel that either you aren’t going to get any better at it or that you would rather spend the time doing something else. I don’t mind if you get bored of Waves and stop playing as it is in fact inevitable that you will. I just hope that while you are playing it that you’re enjoying it for the experience of playing, learning and improving rather than because you persevered long enough to unlock everything in it.