Monday, May 31, 2004

spent far too much time playing star wars galaxies. Its interesting to do it though, because you begin to realsie exactly what it is in games that drags people in and keeps them playing, and it sure isnt performance or graphics. Thats more true for a MMORPG though, where you get ongoing revenues. People only pay for starship tycoon once unfortunately.
Sales are averaging about 1.5 a day at the moment, which makes for a nice little side income. Hopefully the much talked about retail deals will get signed next week. I hope that by the end of the year Government will be on sale (working title...)
Jadzia(my cat) was traumatised by a plastic bag yesterday, i think shes slowly recovering. she has post traumatic stress at the moment.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

well i did get SOME work done on govt, but its hard to find the time when you have a ful-time job too... Anyway Im pretty close to homing in on a major bug in there somewhere. I have a solution to the gradual effectiveness, which is that each 'effect' in the game applies itself using the average of the last X calculated values, with a degree of smoothing. The problem is that the history of values is getting b0rked at some point so I need to find out where and how.
Still been playing Star Wars galaxies, its getting very good, Mos Espa is great, almost got arrested by stormtroopers last night.
I've tweaked my potentail advert banner for ST, I'll be buying some advertising space probably tonight. I need to use up some of my RegNow balance before I take out the rest and spend it. I'm still using google adwords but I'm not sure they actually create many sales.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

my car has been scratched by some idiot with his keys. I bet it made him feel really big. What a nutcase. I reported this to the police, on the grounds that when crime goes unreported, its assumed not to have taken place. I WANT the police to know every time my car is scratched or the wingmirror knocked off, maybe eventually they will do something about it. And to think that I lvie in a very ncie area... bah!
Havent done ANY work on Govt for 2 days because of my new addiction to Star Wars galaxies. This is bad...
I have been selling a good quantity of games though, over £600 in shareware sales in the last month, plus the realgames,egames etc. Not bad at all. Im about to start up some banner ads.

Monday, May 24, 2004

sales have been pretty good lately.
I get a lot of spam (which is filtered thank god) but I also get way more than that by the way of delivery failure notifications.
I DONT EVER WANT THESE. they are always telling me about a spoofed mail i never sent anyway.
You would think there would be a way to identify a mail bounce and reject them all. but no.
When is someone going to introduce a standard to such things. If things get any worse, email will become all but worthless. I've given up sending email newsletters, people probably mistake them for spam anyway (its an opt-in only list btw).
you would think spamcop would allow you to auto reject all delivery failure bounces.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Im thinking of using this banner ad: is it any good?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Government is a damned complex game implementation wise.
Take the concept of memories. This is as importanat as the slow fade in of effectiveness for policies. Lets say there is a rail strike. 2 months before the election, the strike is resolved by a dramatic increase in rail subsidies. Under the old system, this would wipe out the negative effects of the strike instantly.
But inr eal life this isnt what happens. People think about whats happened over the last 3or 4 years when they go to vote the ame party back in. If you had a major crisis that was your fault in the last year, this should be reflected at the ballot box.
So I added the idea that events would have the effect of creating memories. Voters would have a bad memory of a stirke (or a good memory of something) which would slowly degrade in its effectiveness over time.
So I implemented this system and all was great.
Its not enough to do it just forr events, it also needs to be the same for anything that influences people. So if incoe tax is punishingly high for 3 years, cutting it by 50% the month before the election shouldnt help you too much. Also if the coutnry has a high rate of poverty, socialists should carry this bad memory with them even if the poverty level drops off just before they vote.
So a more generic system is needed.
And not only that, it needs to be more generic anyway, because I have a list int he gui of the voters current top10 'concerns'. I want this to be entirely generic accross types. So some things in the list will be policies, some events, some memories of past events, some will be simulation values. for example:

1) Income Tax
2) Rail Strike
3) High Poverty
4) Immigration control
5) ID Cards
6) Memories of high unemployment

This is a complex problem to solve. especially at the weekends...
In other news. I sold 3 games today, I have a special offer, buy Starship Tycoon and get Planetary Defense for 50% off. Its working well.

Friday, May 21, 2004

feeling a bit ill today sadly.
We are considering buying a new cat, but the one we were considering is just megabucks, and what with the dreaded conservatory I just dont have the cash. pity though, cats are very cool.
Went to a typical english barbeque last night in the pouring rain. ho hum.
Im ithcing to get work done on govt, and also need to wrangle the advance payments from these publishers (which is taking forever). The Movies is going along ok, I cant wait for this game to be done and on the shelves, although thats a good 3 or 4 months away at least.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

very busy at work. im keen to get some stuff done on govt but there isnt much spare time at the moment.
I have high hopes that i might actually have found someone to tile my conservatory floor at last. dont count your chickens though I guess.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

got lots of work done on the movies. Been trying to persuade the builders to actually do the work they were paid for, and also find someone to tile the floor.
why are builders so useless? am now phoning every tiler for miles around hoping that 1 in a hundred might reply / come to do the work.
Thank god I dont run my business that badly!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Ok help me out with this....
Its obvious that in the real world, changes in govt spending might take a while to take effect. If i increase my Rail subsidies by 50%, it could take months or even years for this to filter through into an effective change wihich voters will appreciate.
So should I put this in the game?
Part of me reckons its essential, because it prevents you taking sudden action the month before an election, and means you need to actually plan for your second term during the middle of your first term, but at the same time worry about the short run too.
The problem is the extra layer of complexity and how to represent this visually to the player.
Maybe the policy slider has a 'ghosted-out' slider shwoing where it currently is, which interpolates towards the target over time?
or maybe I explain it with text?
I need it to be obvious that this is happening to the player without them reading the manual or getting confused.
will the player be confused?

still struggling with fax machines for my russian publisher. I'm going to give up and post it in a minute.
what a nightmare.
Also cant connect to the eve online server from work. how frustrating. Thankfully Ive a had a good few days game sales, a healthy fun-loving cat and my new games design is coming along nicely

Monday, May 17, 2004

Well thinsg are going well on the games front. I sold $90 worth of shareware yesterday which is unusually good ;) I have a day off work today to take jadzia to the vets. she needs her teeth cleaning (under anasthetic) and also a test for FIV. Hopefully she will test out ok. She had to be starfed from 6pm last night which was a bit hard on her... poor puss. Im picking her up later. hope shes ok.
Im working on govt today, adding some customisation to the sliders that control policies. My plan is to have some with a continous slider that lets you adjust tax levels from say, 1% up to 30% etc, and other sliders could just be described in words like "low" "high" etc.
Then for some policies that are more like laws, I could have (for example in gun control) "total ban" "strict licensing" "licensing" "handguns only" "no limit".
I think that makes the interface a lot more usable and interesting than just plain sliders.
Also been playing eve, with a new character, jesus that game is addictive.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

well ive been a bit pessimistic recently about my shareware sales but this morning I woke up to find I'd sold a copy of asteroid miner, starlines and starship tycoon, plus another starlines game through realgames, so thats a pretty good morning ;)
I've also been doing quite a bit of work on govt, which I hope will be a great game. It's going to be much mroe data driven and 'scriptable' than starship tycoon, so I should be able to ship it with a whole ton of content.
I'm afraid I've succumbed to the inevitable and started playing eve online again, albeit with a new character. people keep offering to give me ships and money, don't they realsie that the struggling to get these things *is* the game?
Anyway its good to see that eve is still popular, and still great fun.

Friday, May 14, 2004

fax machines are useless. why do publishers always want me to fax them stuff. this 2004. we have 128 bit encrypted secure email with digital certificates.
fax machines are unreliable, slow, run out of paper, have arcane instructions and are toally pointless.
Instead of figuring out why the fax machine doesnt answer i will be posting 2 contracts.
another week or twos delay then.
what a total and utter waste of time. If i ever run a big company we wont have printers or a fax machine.
this is 2004. get used to it.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

well I've wanted a new mmorpg for a while so this lunchtime I bought star wars galaxies, although due to stupid firewall nonsense I cant play it at work yet. Maybe one day someone will shoot all the hackers and spammers and we wont need that crap.
My impressions just from installing the game is that I hate sony. I dont want them to have my phone number, date of birth or any crap like this, nor do i want tor eceive markjeting bullshit from them.
I just want to play the game.
I got some cool work done on govt last night, and today I signed contracts for 2 retail deals (v small ones). I dont have the fax numebrs at work so cant fax them today.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

as promised, a picture of my special pusscat access ramp:

people are such sheep.
tommorow E3 starts. There will be lots of people going "whoah dude" and "thats the greatest game ever made" as they are impressed by booth babes, big video screens, lasers, hype, loud noises, FMV, maybe even (gasp) some video or gameplay.
But in most cases the people at E3 won't play the games. The publishers and developers won't be happy to sit journalists down with a copy of their latest game and just let them see what they think.
People aren;t allowed to form their own opinions of a game now. We have to read reviews written by people who were wined and dined at the publishers expense, introduced to all the people working on the team, personally guided through the very best bits of the game by the games designer, all while PR people splutter superlatives into their ears.
This is how games should be evaluated by the press.
a gold master CD arrives on their desk, with a manual.
they play it
they review it.
Because like it or not, that is how YOU the consumer will experience the game, no booth babes, no laser shows, no PR, no free lunch and complementary champagne...
Keep this in mind when you read all the glowing hyperbole that will get splashed over websites over the next few days.

Monday, May 10, 2004

City of heroes looks like a good game, but Im not going to spend money on it till I've played a demo. if there isnt a demo, then they wont get my money. I note there is a video of the gameplay, but Im buggered if im setting up a fileplanet account just to download it.
I dont see why the retail companies cant learn from us shareware dudes and
a)always make a demo available
b)host your own files so we can get the demo easily.
if you make it hard for me to buy your product, I just wont buy it.
simple really.

eeek blogger is all different. how bizzare.
Just saw some great screenshots at for a game called gunslingers. a cel-shaded wild west shooter. looks greta, pity there isnt a website or a release date.
That got me looking through the garagegames list of projects, and some of them are pretty dire.
So many of their games seem to have more thought and effort put into the 'company logo' than the concept for the game.
Most of them go something like this:

Liquid Hyperl33t entertainments present:
Redemption! Codename:nemesis
A next generation FPS set in a futuristic cyberpunk world where you are fighting the evil whatever blah blah
no screenshots yet.

So these projects EVER get as far as a screenshot? let alone a demo or a finished game (or a sale). How ever many times its written in tutorials, kids never get the message that their first game needs to be a pong or asteroids clone, not the latest half-life 2 beater.
I shouldnt complain, this is why there isnt much 'real' competition for indie games.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Got some more work done today on govt. got events working better and added support for policies to have a 2 way effect on a voter type. In english, this means that (for example) motorists could have a positive view on low car tax, and a negative one on high car tax, with a sweetspot of indifference somewhere in between.
for this to work, those policies need to be non cancellable, so I think I might have maybe 2 or 3 policies per group that you can adjust but not cancel (like income tax or military spending). I think the game could be great fun.
I played a puzzle game called pipeline today. its very good.
get it here
Also spent well over an hour building a ramp for my cat so she can get into her cat-flap 'tunnel' from outside in the new conservatory. I'm very proud of it, theres twin side support struts and a number of rungs to avoid slippage. She can get into the tunnel without it, but nothings too good for my cat.
I'll probably be sad enough to post pictures of it tommorow.
Pesky puss hasn't used it yet, despite much encouragement.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

interspersing some work in the garden with some work on my latest game ;)
Here is how government (working title) looks at the moment:

All the icons are currently tanks, which isn't final obviously, although i think I might go with just 2 color icons to keep the screen looking clean and uncluttered. Ive started working on events and also the gui for selecting new policies to implement. Its still a long way from being playable.
In other news, Starship tycoon is going to be shown at E3. This is great news, wish I could be there to see exactly how the game is presented to people. Hopefully there will be some good feedback from this, and some good sales. I might even get some hard cash from those 2 retail publishers next week. I'm already fantasising about what to spend it on.

Friday, May 07, 2004

i finished starmonkey this lunchtime. w00t. Thats the best damn arcade shooter ever written. why arent there more indie gamers doing games like this? maybe they just dont get the publicity? surely we have enough puzzle games by now. I need to get some work done on the events system for govt. I'm really looking forward to getting at the stage where I can put the data in ;)
meanwhile my nightmare struggle with builders continues...

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I got quite a bit of work done on events for government. I haven't written much code, but the code design is in place, which is 99% of the effort. Its going to work in a very data-driven way, reusing the same neural network structure that the rest of the game uses. I also sketched out a basic interface for it, and I'm now happy with the new blueish grid like interface (with icons) that ive got for the main policy screen. Ill upload screenshots soon.
Sales of Starship Tycoon have picked up again, and I still have high hopes of getting paid by at least one of these publishers, which might mean I'll be in the market for a laptop. I'll have to spend the money on some kind of geek toy, otherwiseit will just end up emptied into the money pit that is owning your own house.
I've never actually owned my own laptop, although I'e had work-provided ones in the past. I'll probbaly go for a dell one, as my dell laptop was great and they seem extremely competitive on price these days.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Ok things have been busy at work with E3 stuff, but the movies is looking very good indeed.
I've been selling a few copies of Starship tycoon and StarLines over the last few days, which isn't bad, plus today I got my monthly Realgames check which is about $250 which isn't that bad. I've just been checking out This site which doesnt seem bad as a general resource for shareware develoeprs such a smyself.
I keep reading about people who are developing indie puzzle games which seems total insanity when there are at least 50 decent ones on the market already, and hardly any decent shooters RPGs or sim games. I hope this bodes well for my government game.
I'm about to add some new code to the game, which I haven't done for a while, as I've been re-evaluating the games interface. I'm concious of the fact that its current design leads itself to just having the player discover the 'sweet-spot' for the simulation and leaving it there, with a bunch of happy voters. I'm going to add events (like terrorism, general strikes,recessions epidemics etc) to mix things up a bit.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Is pearl Harbour the worst film script ever written? what a load of jingoistic cliched crap. I can't believe people wrote this crap without getting fired. Were they taking the piss?

Well after much pestering I have turned on this trackback malarkey.
The consensus in shareware land is that sales are dipped because its exams time in the US, which is as good an excuse as any. I've sold quite a few games through realgames this last month so I checked to see if I was on the front page or something, but apparently not. I'm still suprised they can sell moon tycoon, deep sea tycoon and lemonade tycoon, but didnt want starship tycoon. ho hum. I think I agree with those who say that the trick is to self publish anyway.
I'll be popping into lionhead later to get some last minute E3 stuff done later.
Heres some fun and exciting sales figures:

Last weeks shareware sales:

total income: $66.01

StarLines INC: 1 copy
Starship Tycoon: 2 copies (1 through affiliate)
Asteroid Miner: 2 copies ( 1 through affiliate)

Not exactly a kings ransom is it? Its normally better than this. And you can add on the egames (quarterly) check for another $280 plus whatever I earned from RealGames this week(probably another $50).

Sunday, May 02, 2004

well its a nice sunny day and the garden looks great, but ive been driving around doing errands like a maniac and now Im at work fixing some last minute E3 stuff for the movies. on the plus side I might not have to work tommorow, so I can have the bank holiday off work, which will be very nice.
I need to chase both my retail publishers.
looks like sales of starship tycoon have picked up again at last.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

This URL made me laugh for a bit because its exactly the kind of thing that I would sit and code, and get really obsessed with. Theres also a cool blog by the same guy HERE.
Got laods of work done on restructuring the mess that the backend sim for GOVT is. its kind of cool to play with neural networks.
got a royalty check from egames this morning, fantasised about it being 3 thousand dollars before oepning it and finding $283.00
Oh well, that indie life for ya.
Got chums coming round later so its great food night! tommorow will be hectic as I've got people coming round AND I need to nip into work (E£ is coming up ad there are lots of little things to tidy up and finish off.