December 2015 blog archive

This page contains all the blog posts from december 2015. To read the most recent blog posts, click here.

27/12 - html5 tests

The game i'm currently working on (called 'Xyth Mercenaries') is a very simple incremental/idle game. I have better and more detailed ideas for games of that genre, but i needed something small to test out html5 conversion, which would allow to play the game in a web browser. The idea is to figure out whether or not HD3 can be turned into a html5 game as well.
So far, i haven't actually managed to run the game in a browser, even though the compiling works out ok. The game code, which is in Java, gets turned into Javascript, and naturally, not everything that's possible in Java will be possible in Javascript. Some such things can be rewritten while preserving the functionality of the code, but there are cases where functionality is different. There are also a few issues for which i haven't found a solution yet, due to the complexity of the elements that aren't working. It's not impossible to fix these for Xyth Mercenaries, but HD3 has at least 100 times as much code, and on top of that there's also a few places where the game switches between android-specific and desktop-specific code depending on what platform the game is running. As it stands now, if i were to attempt making a html5 version of HD3, i'd have to start by making a seperate codebase, which is what i wanted to avoid by not choosing flash for the web version.

Another problem is the file size. There will be some overhead for general functions (f.i. to play back audio, or render things in a browser window), but Xyth Mercenaries its Html5 version is 85 MB (while the Java version for desktop would be less than 5 MB). I'd need to test if all the automatically generated files are truly needed, but as long as i don't have a working version, that's not possible. In any case, for HD3 i would likely have to make some changes when it comes to the size of the game. For the android version, i supplied the card images at half the size compared to the desktop version. This results in a filesize of about 28 MB versus 70 MB for desktop versions. The internal game resolution is 1600x1000 pixels, while HD Xyth was 800x500. Providing card images at a different size only affects the filesize of the entire game, but not the internal resolution. Note : this internal resolution is not the same as the resolution of the game window - if the window is for instance 1200x750, the game is still being rendered at 1600x1000 pixels, but the whole thing is then projected onto the smaller window. If i were to make a flash version of HD3, i'd have to change the internal resolution down to 800x500, and it's exactly this process that would take a lot of time due to the large number of different screens in the game as well as the complexity of some of them. If this same step is going to be needed for a html5 version as well, then i'd rather stick with flash.

So, short term i'm not expecting to make a decision on html5 vs flash. Either format will require a lot of additional work, and while there's still much left to do for HD3, i'd rather focus on the remaining mechanics than spend a few months on creating a browser version.

As for Xyth Mercenaries, i'm not sure if i should make the game available at all. It's truly a small (and shallow) game. I do have a number of ideas that would increase the depth of the game, but the plan was never to make a larger game at this point in time, and not for this genre. I might place it on my site in the near future, and see what players think off it. If people end up enjoying it, i could implement these additional ideas. In any case, i'd have to make a flash version of the game before i can release it.

20/12 - other games?

Most of the past two years has been spent on working on HD3, but not exclusively. While i didn't write code for other games until a week ago, i did work out some of the ideas i had for other games (and came up with a bunch of new ones).
I also continued writing, usually in the weekends - I've talked briefly about 'Xyth Era I' before, which is the first book detailing the world wherein most of my games take place. I managed to turn the first draft into something more readable, and what was once intended to be a short story now has some 270.000 words (about 800 pages in common print formats). I'm still not sure when or how i'll make this available. I don't consider myself a good writer, but i'm convinced the story itself is interesting enough. I've considered making it available in parts, rather than making the whole story available at once. Meanwhile, quite some snippets for the second book (which is where most of the stuff that Hidden Dimensions has been based on, occurs) have been written, and i can't wait to get started on it.

As for other games, there are two bigger game ideas i'd like to attempt - one is a medium sized game (a mix of tower and base defense) and the other is a rather detailed RPG. Currently i'm working on a small incremental game, which mainly serves to test out a few things related to html5 (so that i know if making a web version HD3 would be possible). The defense game might come after that, but at that point i'll probably already start working on HD3 again. The RPG will have to wait until HD3 is well into beta and no longer needs continuous care and support. I can't say much yet about the ideas i have for an RPG, as i've been collecting so many things to put in a game of that genre for a long while. It might turn out to be a single-character action RPG, or a party-based one with turn-based combat. It could be a science-fiction game, or it could be fantasy themed (i.e. taking place around the same time as Xyth Era I, which somewhat loosely based on late medieval times). Many things are still to be decided, but i'd like to make sure most of the more complex remaining ideas for HD3 are completed before i start on this.

13/12 - taking a break

Last week, the final alpha update for HD3 was released, and that means i'll be starting on the preparations for everything related to putting HD3 into beta soon. First, i'll take a break from working on HD3.
Next to doing a number of non-programming things related to HD3, i'll work on a small game (or two). I've already started on a very small and simple idle/incremental game. I simply took what seemed to be the smallest game from my list of game ideas and started on it. On one hand it's good to have something entirely different work on, after having been busy with HD3 for more than 2 years. On the other hand, i need to do some tests to see what's involved in creating a html5 game.

For HD3, i'd like to know whether it would be possible to convert the game into a browser version, either flash or html5. A flash version would take several months of work, and i'm not sure if that'll be worth it - i'd much rather spend that time on creating new stuff for HD3. I considered making a 'lite' version of HD3, but even if i left out mercenaries and combat boost, it wouldn't make much of a difference, and at that point, HD3 would actually have less content than HD Xyth.
Html5 is another option, and the advantage here is that the game framework i use for HD3 (libGDX) can automatically create a html5-compatible version of the game, similar to how there's a android version of HD3 without me having to create the game from scratch. The new game(s) i'll make will allow me to test html5-related stuff on a much smaller scale.

06/12 - HD3 beta prep

The last (planned) alpha patch is nearing completion, and should be out somewhere in the coming week. This doesn't mean that next patch after that one will put the game in beta right away. Once this patch is out, i'll take a break from working on HD3 itself to focus on a few other things.

Before HD3 can go into beta, i'd like to have some form of planning, as a lot still needs to be done once the game does enter beta. There are obvious things such as the entire 'explore' mechanic that needs to be added, but also things that have been planned since the start of HD3, such as a 'drafting' style gameplay mode.
To have a successful beta phase, one needs plenty of players (new and experienced) to provide feedback on the many aspects of HD3. The plan here is to attempt to draw in new players by making a few small games. I have tons of ideas that can be turned into games, but first i need to figure out what kind of games i'd like to make. I'd like to try creating an idler/incremental game, as well as some form of tower defense game.
HD3 is fairly complex and deep in places, so it would be good to have a plenty of information available to players that wish to research stuff. The wiki has been providing HD3 specific info since the game went into alpha, but most of that info isn't detailed enough. Card lists and card pages might be delayed until after the early stages of the beta have been completed, since cards are expected to change. Though, card info is generated automatically, so if i can set up a good system that creates wiki pages automatically, i'd only have to run that system everytime a card changes.

Finally, i still have tons of ideas for major and minor game modes for HD3, as well as cards and abilities. Some of these are still very basic a will require a fair bit work to even figure out if they are viable ideas at all. All of this stuff needs to be sorted out, so i can set up a form of long-term planning for after the game has been released.