Monday, April 20, 2009

Stay the Course, Space Squid!

Just under a month ago I stated I would have this game done and released by May 1st. I still plan on having it complete by this date, and I am very, very proud of how far I've come so far. I have to say I'm a fairly amazing guy for learning Flash, Flex, OOP, graphics, and input devices - and making a game - all in a single month! We should all celebrate my genius. Feel free to name your babies after me.

I think I'll have to circle "April" on my calendar and be sure to celebrate it every year with copious amounts of craft-brewed ale.

So I have 11 days left to complete my mission - including the rest of today - and I really don't have that much farther to go in the game. Therein lies the dilemma - I'm not really sure which itty bitty problem I should tackle next. I'm used to finding the biggest issues and resolving them systematically - but when you get a product that's this close to "done," all that remains are naggling barely-issues that really aren't fun to solve. So I haven't done much work in the past few days.

I think to hunker down and get this done I have to make some decisions now on what has to happen - and once armed with this list I'll have an ordered number of things to do. Let's hash this out!
  • I have to ramp up the difficulty faster so the early levels aren't as boring. This will eliminate the casual player base - so I'm thinking I'll have to add a "Hard Mode" to the main menu. My first instinct is to simply make the timer 4 seconds per star right from the get-go; maybe that's too harsh. I'll have to test it out.
  • I will have to place a bunch more sounds in the game - grab-star, victory, game over, loss of limb, reset, and boost. Maybe a few more but that sounds like a nice set.
  • Settle on a font to use in-game and use flash's text rendering to put a stroke on it to help it stand out. The current font gets too narrow at points and makes it nearly unreadable.
  • Add some random fun-facts about squids in the victory message.
  • Add the top-secret "Game Over" object
  • Clean up the "fishtank" graphic around the border - it looks like a series of rectangles right now, for some reason.
  • Straighten out some of the mantle edges on the squid graphic - when twisting in certain ways he has sharp edges.
  • Change up the squid graphic on the menu to be an identical copy of one in-game. Flash's sprite compiling tool will nicely solve this.
  • Make a Mac version that correctly labels the CTRL key as the Command key on the main menu.
  • Implement some real music (see below for more on that). Right now the game streams in some copywritten music but doesn't actually play it (for legal reasons), so at least I know the technology works. :)
  • Do up a proper website for the game complete with integrated high scores.
  • Once the SQL queries are settled on for the high score tables, port them directly into the game.
  • Depending on who (if anyone) accepts the sponsorship, might need to work 3rd party API stuff into the game.
  • Throw a release party.
Once the game is complete I'm going to have to market and distribute it. Since this isn't really an epic game by any measure (and wasn't intended to be!), it won't really survive on it's own two legs like Colin Northway's Fantastic Contraption did. I'm going to have to go the portal/sponsorship route.

That really disappoints me. I hate ads, I dislike the whole idea of portal sites, and I don't want to wrap my head around the magic that is writing several contracts to cross several portal sites. To help me out I enlisted FlashGameLicense.com - Space Squid is now listed there for publishers/portals to bid on and help make my life easier. It might go nowhere, but I'm fine with that - this game isn't costing me anything. :) Eventually I'll have Cephalopod Heaven where you can play all your favorite squid games (as written by me) and I won't have to worry so much!

Through FGL I met up with John Hughes of Twune.com. We're currently working out a deal to get some in-game music going. It'll be some basic, happy, midi-style stuff - I don't think this game will be able to support a million hits on 10mb MP3 (FC proved the problems inherent with that!). Hopefully we'll have some nice sample music up in the coming weeks!

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