Yes, we’ve finally come to this final log =)
Right, before the actual report, let me tell you the good news. Black Holes, my OneGameAMonth entry for January, is now live on Google Play! You can go grab the game right from here! Or if you don’t have an Android device, you can watch the gameplay footage at the end of this post. Black Holes is a game about using black holes to pull away enemy bullets from your spaceship, sounds cool, right? =D
Oh, and link to the previous logs: #1 #2
So, on to the progress log. It’s the last weekend of January and I finally learnt the negative side of “working every weekends”.
Like I said in my previous post, there’s only a couple of stuff left to do and I’m quite confident it could be done in a day or two. However, come Saturday and I was still focused on working on my main game, Project Claw. I was working on a new mechanic and I wanted it to be done quickly so I could send it to my tester before Saturday night. Oh, and I also needed to send a mockup to another developer for a collaboration I’ve been proposing. Yeah, tons of work that day and in the end I didn’t touch Black Holes at all.
But there’s still Sunday! Sure, I started by working on the title screen logo, and once I’m satisfied with it, I moved on to laying out the rest of the title screen. But after that I suddenly lost my mood to work on the game. Apparently my mind is still on my other game, and I can’t force it to change its focus. In the end I didn’t do anything other than the title screen that weekend.
And that’s the problem with working only on weekends. On the previous week my mind is totally on “how to improve the game experience” and I’m able to work really effectively. However, once I achieved the level of experience I wanted, my mind moved on to the another stuff. And thus I found myself working on stuff that I didn’t really want to work on. Apparently it’s hard to maintain the same level of focus if you’re not working on the stuff regularly.
Well, despite not really focused on Black Holes, I know I need to get my shit done. The end of January is approaching fast after all. And even though I’m not really into the coding at that point, I still pretty much enjoyed working on the artistic part (like the icon). Fortunately, by Tuesday afternoon I already got it all working, both art-wise as well as feature-wise.
It’s not without its problems though. For example, apparently Android can’t play music track continuously without any gap 0.o So I ended up scrapping the plan to have an intro music for each round and just put the intro music on the title screen. Another problematic one is the tutorial. Well, I didn’t exactly have any problem with it, it’s just I hate working on tutorials. Not to mention that the tutorials are really crucial in making players quickly understand what they are supposed to do in this game, so they must be handled with care.
Someone seriously need to write a great tutorial about building tutorials =/
Later on that night I uploaded the game to Google Play (also came up with a description for the game) and with it, the Black Holes development saga has finally come to close. So, what’s my takeaway?
There are several things that I got from OneGameAMonth, first off is how awesome the indie people are. Seriously, the community is unbelievably helpful and supportive, and they’re also making cool games! Another thing is that I got someone to provide music for my game, which is super awesome. For me there’s always something magical about strangers working on something together.
What about the game itself? Well, I have achieved my goal of testing out the black hole mechanic, and I’m glad it turned out to be quite good. That said, I still feel that the game format can be better. Most games that utilize physics have tightly designed environment like Cut the Rope, Bad Piggies, Where’s My Water, etc, so may be puzzle game is more fitting for Black Holes?
One more stunning thing for me is how simple value-tweaking can drastically alter a game experience. Seriously, when I lowered the bullet speed from 250 to 150, it improved the game a lot, and when I changed “distance” to “distance squared”, it made the game even much better. Another thing I learned that I shouldn’t give up quickly when the early implementation isn’t good enough, I need to find the underlying problem and keep iterating to solve that problem.
I also learned that honesty is really, really important. Early on I found myself hoping that other people will find my game fun, even though I actually didn’t think it’s fun. Only by being honest with myself, accepting that my game sucks, I can start improving the game. Anyway, those are my opinions about the game, what about other people?
So far the early response to the game is pretty good, most people (like, almost all of them) are praising the idea, saying that it’s a good gameplay concept. And I even got a friend who kept nagging me with new ideas for the game 😄 It’s interesting to note that people are praising the concept, not the gameplay itself, which is kinda what I actually feel about the game. That said, there’s a few people who mentioned that the bullet is acting a bit weird, so may be I need to actually implement real physics engine after all.
See the game yourself on this full gameplay footage:
Now we’ve reached the end this post, let’s take a look at the future. What will become of Black Holes? Well, I never have any plan to develop it any further than this. I felt Black Holes has served it purposes, that is to prove that a game concept I had is quite fun, and thus I have no need to develop it anymore. If anything, I may use it for further learning, like learning to send a press release with it or use it to test out things such as an online leader board (hey, I love reinventing wheels!)
A little bit of confession, while writing this I just thought of another cool addition to the game. A cool addition that will never be implemented on the game, sigh.
And what of my February entry for OneGameAMonth? Well, I actually already have a really rough vision of what I want to do for February, but the main point is that I want to do it with Unity3D. I really think that it’s nigh time for me to finally learn some new tools. Oh, and it’s also gonna be in 3D. I really need to refresh my 3D calculation repertoire, been playing on the 2D space for too long.
Anyway don’t forget to give the game a try from here!