Friday, July 30, 2004

Sold 3 copies of StarshipTycoon today which isn't bad, also got some dates for when it ships to the North US, and had a look at the manual for the retail copy. All very cool stuff.
I've been playing Thief 3, which is pretty good, much what I expected. The best thing in it so far is the dust motes that flicker in rays of light as you sneak around... very atmospheric. One of the few games where it really justifies having a good video card (although ive only got a geforce 5600 Se at home...)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Just gave the approval for the manual for the retail copy of starship tycoon. Quite excited about seeing a boxed version soon...
Also been playing Thief 3, which is superb. just like the others but with nicer lighting etc. I got it for £16.99 from a google adword ad for (if ire call correctly). Its a bargain at that price.

Just gave final approval to the manual for the retail copy of Starship tycoon. hurrah!
havent got my money from the russian publisher yet....
and also ive been playing Thief 3. I got it for just £16.99 which was a bargain

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Been pretty busy working on democracy, and chasing up some payments from foreign publishers which has been really annoying.
Also had trouble with one incredibly rude and arrogant customer trying to rip me off. Not a chance...
I'll be posting some screenshots showing the current state of democracy some time this week, I'm getting really into it now I have settled on a look 'in-principle' for the main game screen.

Monday, July 26, 2004

so there I was thinking, "wow starlines has been selling well through realgames today" and i discovered that its currentl the top selected game in their strategy section. w00t.
For some reason they didnt want to take Starsjhip Tycoon, they are still obsessed with their puzzle game audience. Which is weird, because StarLines INC still sells a few copies per day (albeit at a criminally low price).
I'm not complaining though, its a nice side-income.
I am off work sick today with a horribly sore throat. I'm capable of working, but its not right to go to work and infect everyone else. I hate it when people do that.
Time for a game of cossacks methinks ;)

Friday, July 23, 2004

Star Wars Galaxies  Logo Screesn - Amazingly poor customer service.

Check out the SWg forums, they are filled with people asking why they have to sit and stare at 2 logo screens every time the game starts, plus log in again, plus accept a licence screen EVERY TIME THEY PLAY.
Yet despite this demand from their customers:
1)Sony refuse to allow you to skip these logos, you have to wait for each one in turn, then press escape.
2)They actually banned me from their forums (remember im paying a monthly subscription for this) For criticising them for it.
So they lost another £15 a month or whatever.
what a bunch of fools. Listen to your customers, or they will go elsewhere. Its simple really.

I got a sudden last minute bunch of bugs reported by the US publishers of Starship Tycoon. I've fixed some already, just got one mystery crash bug to trap down (eeek).
I keep having a dilemma about whether or not to use real 3D in Democracy. I can see how its cool once its all set up, but it just vastly complicates things. Im planning (so far) to use 2D sprites drawn to make it look slightly 3D.
Im aware that it wont be a graphics-havy game, but it still needs to look as professional as possible.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

several times I have tried to deal with Its a great web comic, very funny. I even bought one of their t shirts and had a link to them on my blog.
I put a banner for them on my site once, they said you got sent some bonus stuff by email if you did that and told them.
i told them.
i got sod all.
I sent off for their advert pack, read through it, then recently replied saying id love to spend a few hundred dollars on their site.
i got nothing.
weeks later still nothing.
I guess that despite obvious comic talent, pvponline doesnt want to actually soil its hands by talking to people who want to be in touch.
I spent the advertising money elsewhere btw.
There is definitely a lesson in there somewhere dont you think?
Oh, and I took the link to the site off my blog. Why promote someone who treats you like this?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I'm increasingly interested in what you might call "Visual concept design". This isn't the same as game design which is more like "a game where you run a country and change things by selecting these options". The visual concept design is more like "The game is represented by a map filled with icons" or "the game is represented by a large group of people with differing opinions".
this is a really tough area, and one that I think most people take for granted.
Take most RTS games. The game design is basically "manage resources to build up an empire and wage war against your enemies"
But the visual design is a separate decision:
"A top down tactical view showing individual soldiers and individual factories and farms where you carry out your strategy by clicking on animated people and on target facilities or units"
This is by no means the only way to do an RTS. Take a game like Pax Solaris.
This is also an RTS (of sorts) but it uses a different 'paradigm' (awfull buzzword). And I think it does very well out of its visual design.
Now take the game 'Elite' or 'Eve online' 'Freelancer' etc etc
You could easly do these games in a  totally different visual style.
Elite gives you the view out of your starship window. You dont see your crew, and you get a 3D visualisation of space. But thats just become the accepted visual concept, not neccesarily the best.
I dont think many big games companies have the guts to challenge the established visual concepts for each genre. Maybe its the publishers fault? This is where the little guy comes in.
I'm still throwing ideas around in my head (and with a concept artists) for Democracy.
I know how the game plays, I've even coded a basic chunk of it.
But I haven't settled on my visual concept yet. I want to be 100% right I've picked the most exciting, different, usable design I can.
Eventually I will separate them dramatically in code, maybe go way beyond the shallow skinning of most 'moddable games' and create something where the simulation is truly indepedent from the representation on the monitor...
Its talk like this that frightens publishers.
Thank god for bedroom coding.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Today I released Starship Tycoon 2.24
It adds a new mission, and there are 2 big bug fixes. Hopefully it might knock sales up by maybe 3-5%.
That doesnt sound much, but last month i made $950 from Shareware, mostly from ST. thats not bad. I also probably made a good $500 odd through other publishers, and thats not counting unpcoming retail stuff. w00t.
I can spend tonight and parts of tommorow working on Democracy now ;) I've already started redoing some interface stuff.
I heard today that Introversion are delaying darwinia so as not to clash with Half Life 2. I have big issues with this.
When a game is done, you should get it out there. Sitting on a game because 'the market isnt right' is insane, especially with games being so trend and tech driven
Screw retail. they should sell the game exclusivly online anyway. In the medium to long run, retail is dead. I fully expect to end up making way more from online sales than retail (I only make maybe £2k a year from retail at the moment, which will go up tons this year).
So half life 2 is coming out is it? Yeah right, I'll believe it when I see it, ditto Doom3, Duke Nukem blah blah. And remember kids there are NO guarantees these games won't all be total crap. People have more faith in these games (which they havent played) being great than they have faith in the laws of physics.
The only people who have really seen/played these hyped up monstrosities are journalists, and we can trust them right? *cough* dr3vr *cough*
I expect HL2 will be absolutely fantastic, but nothing is for sure. not until I'm sat there playing the demo.
Don't rearrange your whole business strategy about what your rivals *might* do.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Java web start.

Whats the point?

I just tried installing 'subversion' a home-user source control system. The installer just hung. Whats wrong with an exe file? Java sucks...

In their rush to b trendy it seems some people forget that 95% of the usefulness of a program is its ease of use.

I couldnt even install this product.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I'm at the point where I am adding dilemmas to democracy. Iv been arranging things like this:

These are things the player can create or destroy, and alter on a month by month basis, adjusting their effect. An example of this would be income tax.

These are things that either happen suddenly, or are ongoing situations that are triggered by the simulation. The player cant create or destroy them, but over time through manuipulation of policy, he is able to encourage good events and bring bad ones to an end. An example would be A transport workers strike, Brain drain etc...

Situations that arise which must be dealt with immeduiately. An example would be a hostage taking or a violent demonstration. The player has 2 options to deal with the dilemma, and each option will have repercussions. The dilemmas that occur are based on the decisions the player made before, and the state of the simulation.

Gradually the game is coming together... I still havent finalised an overall visual design yet...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Well I have been working on government. I have also finally changed its name to "Democracy" and registered the domain name:
I might even do a press release about this game before it ships, although its far from that.
Also this morning I got the first 25% of my advance for the North American Starship Tycoon deal, which should get officialy announced soon. I reckon I'll buy a new laptop with the money ;)

And to top it all, I have started selling more games through my website (on commision). I'm now selling 12 games here, 7 of which I made, the rest are sold on a commision. I've been doing this for a while, but I'm taking it more seriously now. In the near future I'm going to review my sales and costs. If it turns out that afiliate sales of TV Manager bring in mroe than Kombat Kars, then I will arrange the games promotion accordingly.
I also need to keep a track of my finances, there is a danger of me spending too much on advertising.

Friday, July 09, 2004

if you buy battlefield 1941, and want to update to the latest patch its 274 MEG.
thats 274 * war & Peace.
WTF is in this patch. No game should be 274MB let alone a patch. these guys are either unbeleievably rubbish coders and artists, or they have just padded it with junk/
of course like all patronising crap from EA games it will come with a pointless video telling me I should 'challenge everything'
what a bunch of retards.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

just sat here waiting for my car pool driver to turn up. car pooling is great, its a money saver, good for the environment, AND you have a buddy to talk to en route to work. do it!
Spent part of last night creeping around in my garden slowly on all 4s with a video camera trying to video our hedgehog, which made a change from coding.
must get abck into the swing of coding govt, been distracted by too much businessy stuff.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I have 2 gripes with my card processor RegNow.
Firstly I have a missing payment of a thousand dollars and they arent responding to my emails asking where it went... (might just be delayed)
and secondly they have as an affiliate, a site which promotes serial swapping, hacks and cracks!
So unless both issues are resolved ill be changing registration proivders I reckon.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Finally got my act together and released the source code for Rocky Racers:

Looking at the code, its pretty dire stuff, but hey, what do people expect for free.
I need to knuckle down and do some work now,but its hard when someone has set up a fully fledged electronic drum kit in the office. theres nothing like bashing the hell out of some drums when you hve a difficult bug.
I'm so glad I work in games and not 'database development' or similar crap.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

working at the weekedn on the Movies as we have abig deadline on Monday. Its a greta game, with some amazing features, but I dont understand why its going to be so long till release. I also dont understand some other things that happen in the world of retail gaming either... I guess I dont naturally understand big company attitudes at all. Im a small company guy at heart!
Been fighting a major war against warez script kiddie scum over the last few days. I can almost understand people pirating a $45 game made by sony, but a $10 game made by one guy in his living room? Jeez why dont they just throw a brick through the guys window while they are about it!
Sales of St have been quite good, made $800 last month, but my direct wire transfer payment went missing, which im chasing.
to be honest wire transfers are a joke. it should be immediate and free (or a nominal charge) why do they take so long be so complex and charge so much?
Im reverting back to checks.

Friday, July 02, 2004

I just saw an advert on this page promising '250,000 credits an hour in Star Wars Galaxies - playing guide!!!" and also "become a Jedi in less than an hour!!!"

I think they should be rephrased:

"Run out of gameplay in under an hour!"
"Bypass all the games fun and content as fast as possible!"

When we people realise that MMORPGS are RPGS. they are about an alternate reality, they are about interacting with other people, livining out a fantasy, an alternate life.
You can't win
Having the most points doesnt mean you are having the most fun.
It's not a race.

I'm still enjoying the game, taking the 'grind' at my own pace. Im sure I could be a 'l33t jedi with a billion xp" by now. Then I'd be one of those dissilusioned sad people that sets a macro to play a message in the game like this:

"join my clan if ur a newbie, I give you a lightsaber and four million credits for free!!!"

People go crazy ammasing points and money, then realise they have missed out on the game itself and those credits and XP are worthless.