Hi, I'm Blake. My first game was '89 Doors', a rage game where you escape mazes whilst being pursued by an insatiable creature of hunger, and now I'm working on a tower defence game called 'Forgive Me My Henchman', where you play as a typical head 'bad guy', deploying henchman and sabotaging a building in an effort to stop a one man army action hero.
So this is the last day of this site...woah...
Hard to believe that a year has gone by so fast.
Fare thee well guys, and thanks for following/reading this blog. I will keep my twitter account active until I can say what new website I will be creating/changing too.
If you have read this blog over the last year – thank you. May you live long and prosper, and your internet be free of lag.
After 8 and a half hours, and 1133 deaths, I have finally finished Spelunky:
Only a person that has climbed Mt. Everest can know how I feel:
I wanted to write about what changes I have made in each area, why I made them, and what effect I think it will have on my game overall.
1) Improving the HUD
It is important to get the balance right between too many and too few items on the HUD.
On one hand, in a tower defence game, a busy HUD distracts from the action on screen. On the other hand, it is essential to ensure that the player always has the necessary information and button shortcuts available so that the player can make the right decisions and execute commands quickly - a HUD is often the best way to do that.
Since the game I am designing is for mobile devices, I have also placed all the clickable buttons on either the left hand or right hand extreme of the screen.
Why I did that is because of how people hold their mobile devices: I noticed that when I had my clickable buttons on top of the screen, my hand would partially cover the screen whenever my hand reached across the screen to tap on them – distracting from the action.
Keeping clickable buttons on the extreme left and extreme right on the screen has made the game easier to use, and also means that you don’t have to block your eyes from the action in order to execute commands.
*I think this is the reason that in Plants vs Zombies 2 they decided to have the plant buttons on the left extreme of the screen, instead of the top of the screen like they did in the original.
2) Scaling back on the use of randomness
Although this was fun to watch, it wasn’t fun to play because the random and unpredictable outcomes of each NPC interaction made the player feel as if they had a lack of control over the outcome.
This doesn’t work well in a tower defence game, in which a player should always feel that the outcome is within their control.
What I have therefore done is make the damage rate constant between different fight animations, but kept the fight animations set to random. What that means is that the battles between NPCs are still really fun to watch, but the outcome of an NPC fight is predictable, making players focus on strategy instead of relying on chance.
Through these constant revisions, the game keeps on getting better and better. Soon I think it will be good enough to showcase :)
Have a great week everybody!
This is the second time I have tried to design a tutorial for my game.
I knew I needed to correct these issues during my second attempt at developing a tutorial. That is why I started doing research and playing many different games, attempting to find out what made a tutorial effective. What I discovered is that - amongst other things - the best tutorials are engaging, and embrace ‘teaching without teaching’.
Thanks to both Extra Credits and Game Maker's Toolkit, both of whom have made great videos on how to design a good tutorial. The Extra Credits video can be found by clicking here, and the Game Maker's Toolkit video can be found by clicking here.
K, I better get back to work
What helped me to start designing these levels is that I changed my approach towards level design:
every level now tests something specific, and therefore has a solution which is apparent if the player has developed the correct understanding.
This is an approach inspired by Jonathan Blow (I blogged about his approach three weeks ago), who said that
What I am enjoying about this approach is that it is also making me consider every aspect of my game – no design aspect is being left to chance. This makes level design a much more time consuming process, but because of the challenge involved I am actually able to have fun with it.
Progress is slow, but worthwhile.
Assuming that the game keeps on progressing as it is, soon I might be able to start showcasing it.
Have a great week everybody
Hi, my name is McDeezy – I am designing a game called FMMH – a tower defence game that satirizes action movie tropes.
I feel like I made more progress with level design in the past few days than I have in the last month. Not only have I finished designing the first five levels, I am also happy with them – even though the levels will still be reworked many times, I believe I am finally on the right track.
A word of warning to those about to play this game:
If there is one thing Spelunky teaches you, it is that hell hath no fury like a shopkeeper scorned.
Just one little bomb detonation or one small whip to the face is all it takes to set the shopkeeper off on a rampage so fierce that it makes the God of War look like Hello Kitty.
There is no escape from him, except death.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that Spelunky is a gem of a platformer. It has made me laugh throughout my 388 deaths (so far) and keeps me coming back for more. If you haven’t played this game but want a game that will challenge you, surprise you, and amaze you, then Spelunky is your game. I give it eleven out of five stars.
Have a great week guys!
I am learning the hard way that tower defence Level Design is difficult!
Even if all these elements come together, that does not necessarily mean that a level will be fun and engaging. With so many things to consider, designing great gameplay can sometimes feel like an impossible task.
That is why I was so fascinated by a quote I read this week by the creator of Braid: Jonathan Blow
So why was gameplay design such a zen process for him, and why is it such a difficult process for me? I decided to do some research and to figure out how his design principles differ from mine.
After watching an interview with him, I noticed he said “You don’t necessarily need to always have difficulty ramping up”
To many people, there is no distinction between those terms, but not to Blow. He says that “the answer [should be] right there if you know the right way to look at the world”. What I've learned from this is that I should make level progression a result of to the mastery of skills, not due to the memorisation of sequences or by trial and error.
He therefore takes out anything from a level that doesn’t focus on that level’s specific idea. It made me think of my game, and how it often feels very messy and haphazard. Often, even I don’t know what exactly a level is supposed to test – how can I expect that level to deliver meaningful epiphanies?
That is why I am going to start my level design once again from the beginning, following some of the design philosophy of Jonathan Blow. I think my game will be better because of this.
Wish me luck guys!
PS - a great introduction to Jonathan Blow's design philosophy was given to me by a video by Game Maker's Toolkit. I highly recommend it.
PSS - there are many youtube interviews with Jonathan Blow. Here is one, but there are many others. All of them are golden.
Hi, I'm McDeezy. I am currently working on a game called FMMH - a tower defence game that satirises action movie tropes.
Months ago, I read a great article by Blackshell Media called ’10 Simple Mistakes Indie Developers Should Avoid’. I suggest reading it, and you can find the original article by clicking here. I recently decided to revisit this article in order to get an idea of what mistakes I am still making, and how I can respond to them. I have written about the relevant ones.
Why I haven't already started asking for help is because I want to be able to give people a clear idea of what this game is about beforehand. I also think people will be more likely to help/team up with me if I have shown that I am serious about taking this project through to completion, and the more work I can do on the project myself, the more clearly I can demonstrate this.
I still think this is a good idea, so I will continue with my current course of action.
Mistake 9: Keeping your project a secret – I have kept my project a secret so far. The reason is because I want to make sure that I can provide an example of what this game is about - and be able showcase some of its mechanics - before I start explaining it.
According to what most developers say - this is a mistake. From what I have been reading, most developers recommend showing off something as soon as possible, some even recommend advertising your project even before you have something to show! Maybe I am being stubborn, but I don't want to show off my project until I feel I can give people a good/clear demonstration of what it is about by sharing gameplay footage. Since I am still committed to doing this (even though it may be a foolish idea), all I can try to do is work towards having a gameplay trailer as fast as possible.
To finish, it was good to revisit this article - not only did it make me realise areas where I can improve, it also made me realise how far I've come. What a journey. Well, gotta keep on moving!
Have a great week everybody