Saturday, April 30, 2005

I just saw the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy film. I have to say I thought it was a disaster. Trillian suddenly a hot chick who falls in love with Arthur? WTF? Why was marvin so unfunny? did trillian really need a shower scene? what was all this crap with the vogons, and who is the mystery woman with them? Why add new crap content when so much was left out?
The film made no sense and wasnt vaguely funny. It was the very worst example of hollywood wrecking a genuinely funny quirky english story. I havent been so gobsmacked at the tackyness of scifi since that vulcan woman did a gratuitous shower scene in the first episode of enterprise (the last episode I ever watched).
Thinking of seeing the film? do yourself a favour, dont bother, rent the DVD of the BBC series instead.
In happier news, Democracy is no longer selling like hot cakes. The cakes are now well and truly flame-grilled and superheated to blinding intensity. And this is without all the new improved stuff that will eventually be in a bigger patch, which im currently working on.
w00t etc.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Elixir went bust today. Thats significant to me because I used to work there, and learned a lot there (in some ways).
One thing that i did learn, and its worth remembering, is this:

innovate on tech, or innovate on gameplay. Don't do both at once.

Republic didnt need an infinite polygon engine. It was a mad idea to have that as your first game. Although Evil Genius fared better, I think the writing was on the wall because of the extended dev time of Republic. People sometimes forget that everything you say and do is completely irrelevant until you ship a product. And all that matters then is the quality of that product.
I wish the guys at Elixir well, they had some really hard working guys there and sue, the admin person was especially good. I hope they all get good jobs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Democracy is VERY hard to balance. Im assuming I did a good job of it as sales are so good, but with the iminent release of 1.0.1 I'm paranoid my adjustments have thrown the balance out. There are so many different variables, and different starting conditions for each mission thats its seriously hard to get a setup which works fairly accross all of them. Especially given a constantly variable difficulty level.
I was hoping to upload 1.01 tonight, but I think I need another 24 hours testing and balancing before I do that. Then I need to do a 1.0.0 to 1.0.1 patch. I think when you write a computer game you need to multiply any estimate for balancing time by at least 4.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Mondays are never much fun...
Anyway, sales of all games are pretty good today, this months sales look likely to beat last month by a factor of 2 at least so that's pretty good stuff. There is already some modded content starting to appear for Democracy which is superb news. Making an indie game moddable is the smartest move you can make.
I'm just at the testing stage of the new patched version (1.0.1) right now, maybe it will get uploaded tonight, maybe tomorrow, haven't decided yet. Sales are so good that I'm paranoid about changing 'anything' even if I think its probably a big improvement.
I need to get my skates on in terms of the marketing stuff, but I'll be doing that once this versions on sale ok, and once I have some feedback from a few publishers who are awaiting the newer version. Its all good stuff!
I played some WW2 RTS today, battle for arnhem or something? Anyway its blatantly Desert rats v Afrika corp with different levels. Fat chance of me paying £35 for that. Can't big retail companies have more than 1 idea every 20 years?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Great Sales, Great Headphones.
Democracy continues to sell like hotcakes, outselling Starship Tycoon by a huge margin. And I havent patched it or done any advertising yet, so this is excellent. I'm adding some events and dilemmas and also sprucing up some bits of the GUI, and hopefully I;'ll be in a position to release a patch by Monday. With any luck, my first democracy banner ad will be ready by then.

I can't praise my Bose QuietComfort headphones highly enough. Most of the time when I need quiet I just unplug the cable and wear them without listening to music, often without even needing to switch them on, they are so good at blocking out noise. Some people might think that its a silly price for headphones ($250 dollars). but consider this:
If you wear headphones 10% of your day. And they last 5 years. Then you are basically spending $50 a year to vastly improve something that you wear for probably 40 minutes every single day. Now take that $250 over 5 years and invest it in higher rent. what difference would that make to your quality of life? an extra 0.002 square meters of living space? These headphones improve my quality of life measurably, and they are a bargain :D

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Haven't posted for a while as I have been super busy. Democracy is selling like hot cakes, and there is a lot of press interest too. This is good news, as its been a relatively slow month for Starship Tycoon sales.
I have a few reported bugs to look at, and I'm hoping to make editing instructions available to the community too. Yesterday I finished off a new screen for the election bit. Rather than just dumping you at the election results window, this counts the votes in fron of you showing you a constantly adjusting bar chart of you and the opposition, then when the result is clear it takes you to the results. I'm really happy with it, its one of those things which you visualise and then it turns out exactly how you imagined it. This will all make it into a free update I have planned for a week or so.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

well its finally on sale!
buy page:

Its a low key launch for the first few days while I check everythbing is ok, and eventually I'm sure there will be some minor fixes and patching involved. but it's finally on sale! This is the scary bit where I find out if it was a great or awful idea for a game...

BTW did anyone watch Derren Brown on CH4 on friday? He is my hero. A total genius. its like watching a real life jedi knight. He made some guy feel ill and almost collapse just by looking at him. Now thats skill... David blaine isn't fit to lick derren browns boots.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Well I got my copy of cossacks 2 and I have to say as my first impression...
Its crap.
Firstly it installs some starforce crap onto my CD drivers. Then it has a load of tedious startup videos and logos, then it transpires the soldiers all speak in American accents.
let me remind you of the games name:
Cossacks II - NAPOLEONIC wars.
As in, mainly fought in Europe....By Europeans. Ironically the developer is Ukrainian.
This is the end of the sane world as we know it. Also the game has bugs, is hard to control, looks and sounds awful and is generally inferior to the original.
Maybe I'll come to like it, but I'm tempted to just sell it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Been extremely busy lately. Lots of polishing work has gone into the final builds of Democracy, although playtesting reveals its still a bit easy in the long run, so I'm fixing that today.
I'm becoming swamped with interest from publishers which is a very nice position to be in. Now I'm at the fun part, which is the actual contract negotiation bit. It will be nice to have it all wrapped up and the proper wheels in motion. I have a million ideas for expansion packs and further games...

I have my summer holiday booked, and its nice to go on holiday during summer when places are actually open! Is it gratuitous to book a villa with a swimming pool when neither of you really swim? bwahahahahahahaha! It will be a nice last break before the insanity that is the last days of working on the billion dollar project that is 'The Movies'.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

I have finally stopped adding features and data to Democracy, and bar finding any noticeable bugs, I intend to release it this coming friday. I just need to get 1 more icon from the artist, check the installers include everything, and maybe do a readme or html manual to include with the game. Then its just a matter of paying the PR guy, updating the web page to include buy links and voila!
I'm going to try a price of $24.95 which I think is about right, any lower would be a bit of a downer what with the dollar being worth about as much as gravel these days... Its only good news if you spend your money on sillt things like imported headphones and replica lightsabers...
Inbetween all this I have a list of publishers whom I have promised final copies for evauation, and hopefully I'll be talking to some of them as well.
Sales of my other games have slumped for a few days but look like they are slowly picking up again.
Its now only a week or so until THIS GAME is released and I become an RTS addict again.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Been very busy lately fixing bugs on democracy. Found some quite bad ones such as memory leaks, and some issues with the text rendering. I use GDI for some text and I'm not used to checking my GDI handles, hence the flakiness of that code.
I also need to do some play balancing. America is too easy (it starts as a crime free utopia HAHAHAHAAH) and Italy is impossibly debt ridden from the start.
Lost of tweaks to do, lots of things to fix, but I'm not releasing it until I'm 100% happy. In retrospect I probably showed it to publishers a bit early, but you live and learn, and the game is getting more stable and better every day which is good.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

My new lightsaber from turned up. Thats a picture of me looking like a geek on the right there. Its very cool, and very geeky as well. Now I own 2 lightsabers. I am truly a l33t g33k. This one has sound and a motion sensor and the beam travels up the blade. Geeky? yes. Cool? yup.

Anyway... I'm in the last section of working on democracy now, putting together a playable demo etc. I have a big backlog of beta requests but I think I have enough feedback now, so its probably going on sale in the next week. I'm waiting on some last artwork, then some banner ad design work, and of course I'll spend some more time looking for bugs and balancing issues. I'll also hopefully add a few more events and dilemmas to the game.
I'll probably start with a fairly low key un-advertised launch for the game so I can get any feedback on bugs I might miss or don't find on my system, Then I'll go for a big advertising splurge.